Okay, so maybe Aaron Copland isn't the first name that comes to mind when you think of great masters from the past imparting knowledge on the current generation of children's book writers. But he has to be at least fourth or fifth, right?
I've been hopping around in Aaron Copland's enlightening book, What to Listen for in Music, and I'd like to draw some parallels between musical composition and kidlit composition.
Here's an important note about finding your own voice, even when the voices of the masters hold you under their spell:
"My love of the music of Chopin and Mozart is as strong as that of the next fellow, but it does me little good when I sit down to write my own, because their world is not mine and their musical language [is] not mine."
On the question of whether one needs to be inspired in order to write:
"The composer, therefore, confronted with the question of inspiration, does not say to himself: 'Do I feel inspired?' He says to himself: 'Do I feel like composing today?' And if he feels like composing, he does."
On the concept of innovative writing:
"...musical speech-- if it is truly vital-- is certain to include an experimental and controversial side. And why not? Why is it that the typical music lover of our day is seemingly so reluctant to consider a musical composition as, possibly, a challenging experience?"
And finally, just for fun, this thought (yes, Musicland has its version of James Joyce):
"The dodecaphonic school of Schoenberg is the hardest nut to crack, even for musicians."
So there you have it, from a kindred kidlit spirit, the words of Aaron Copland. He's really not so far from us if you think about it. He did write that wonderfully rhythmic ballet, Billy the Kid; and that was all about a kid, right?
- ► 2010 (48)