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Craft 2: Material and Technique

Writing music is like digging clay out of a riverbank so that you can make a pot.  The first draft is a lump of clay. As you begin to shape it, the material suggests things to you. The way it develops takes you down paths you wouldn’t have thought about. The music teaches you. You develop skill with the materials.


A precise understanding of the materials we use to make stuff, and of the techniques we use to make it is necessary for good work to emerge. In music, the materials are pitches, rhythms, timbre, etc. Technique is the ways that you manipulate the material. Having no technique means you wind up doing the same thing over and over again. Actually, that describes having one technique. Having no technique means you can’t do anything.

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