Looking for Just the Right Bit of Nastiness
Typically, fledgling composers are taught harmony and counterpoint according to more or less rigid, traditional rules, with dissonances carefully chosen and studiously resolved. But when they write in contemporary harmonic idioms and a nifty dissonance is called for, young composers are too quick to think that any old combination of pitches that produce some abrasive snarl of a chord will do. Not so, says Mr. Hartke, and it's a point he impresses on composition majors at the University of Southern California.
"I spend a lot of time with students on clarifying harmony," he said. "I try to make them understand that even if you are writing post-tonal music you have to think about voice-leading issues." Write nasty music, Mr. Hartke would say. Go haywire if you choose, but make the pitches matter.
I wonder if Mr. Hartke could be persuaded to give a few similar talks to young choreographers?????