chapter  7
18 Pages

Musical style

Children aged 10–14

If learning to handle music as a time-based medium is one of the long haul aspects of compositional development in the middle years, another is the ongoing struggle to make your music sound the way you imagine it. Part of this is the relatively straightforward, though tough, problem of knowing what it is you are hearing in your mind; which pitches, which harmony, which instrumental combinations. If the aural images are reasonably clear and strong, the skills that address these difficulties are as much those of aural analysis and basic theoretical knowledge as anything, though these skills are hard won and take much practice to acquire. More fundamentally however, when pupils say that their music ‘doesn’t sound right’, ‘doesn’t sound like I’m thinking it’ or ‘isn’t the way I want it’, the underlying issue is often one relating to musical style. In many guises, it is questions of style in music that form the main agenda for the period of development during which young composers move into adolescence, although these questions begin to surface much earlier. And style is not just a matter of what you do; it is also and essentially about the way you do it.