Good words on music, for the here and now:

Every note has an end as well as a beginning. The way a note begins is extremely important .... but the way a note ends is just as important.
--- Elaine Fine

We have a duty towards music, namely, to invent it.
--- Igor Stravinsky

...Do I have to tell you about the spiritual cannibalism of the culture, our culture, which has been bombarding us with ultrasensory overstimulation aiming to reprocess us into fulltime consumption machines, stealing above all from us our time (not an inch of time without an imprint of message), and even our very sense of time (to be measured in lengths of no more than one message unit each) under the guise of entertainment, and even of ‘art’, commoditizing the eternal, hyping the primal? Our time is the sine qua non of our identity. We need to take extreme measures to reclaim it for ourselves and each other.”
--- Benjamin Boretz

In any creative activity, art is madness, craft is sanity. The balance between them makes the work.
--- Simon Callow

...Tonal music had the wonderful advantage of being stabilized for a long time so that people knew the predictable patterns. There was a first layer in the education and memory of the listener upon which a composer like Beethoven could play his music and say, "Okay, you're all for waiting for that type of modulation, but I -- Beethoven -- am going to design it differently. So I will trigger a surprise to the listener." So this game between predictability and unpredictability, expectation and surprises is what makes time living and musical. How can we now make such a game between predictability and unpredictability without an established musical language?
--- Gérard Grisey

To those composers who use MIDI and drum machines: Keep using them! Realizing your scores via MIDI is not inherently better or worse than hearing them in your head. If you haven't already, you will eventually figure out how to make your MIDI devices do things no one ever thought they would do! And then you might learn how to hear those kinds of things in your head, something that [the conductor] Dennis Russell Davies will never be able to do.
--- Corey Dargel

My experimenting is done before I make the music. Afterwards, it is the listener who must experiment.
--- Edgar Varèse

With me, the plan and the piece develop at the same rate. I don't believe in making plans. In architecture you have to. If you build a house without a plan, it will fall down. But in the other arts, you don't need one: those huge paintings by Brueghel, full of a lot of small figures, do they have a rigid composition? I don't think so.
--- György Ligeti

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
--- Mignon McLaughlin

...You'll be interested to know that one Moroccan on hearing the first tape of Lou Harrison's music couldn't rest until he'd copied it. He came by yesterday to report the reactions of various friends: Senegalese, Iraqis and Nigerians, all of whom expressed more or less the same thought -- that it was music which described Paradise of one kind or other.
--- Paul Bowles

I want to allow the state of the piece to continue to radiate, and expand itself, to allow the substance to spread over the surface of time that we're in, in an evolutionary way. To that end, I've always been fascinated by slow movements in music of the previous century. Part of it is being able to hear everything, but I also love to expand time, to make it bigger than it normally is. It's not slow motion, but intimacy. I want to bring it up very close, so that it almost becomes your world. You could stand on a beach and look at millions of pebbles, or you could bring one up very close and it's bigger than the ocean, with all of its subtlety and nuances and gradations.
--- Linda Catlin Smith

The New has branches to suit all tastes: there is the plain New for the brisk vanguardians, the Near-New for the faltering, the Old New for the laggards. A little ahead and in a seasonable haze stands the New-New, from which at times, by tremendous effort, particles of the New-New-New detach themselves, like a helium nucleus out of radioactive material. All these arrangements have in fact been brought down to a science. Dozens of specialists will tell you about any part of the operation you care to examine.
--- Jacques Barzun

Just listen with the vastness of the world in mind. You can't fail to get the message.
--- Pierre Boulez

For me, every sound has its own minute form -- is composed of small flashing rhythms, shifting tones, has momentum, comes, vanishes, lives out its own structure.
--- Annea Lockwood

...See the artist has an incredible problem. Especially if they're young and they're growing up, because everything is right. Bach is right... Gluck is right, Palestrina is right, Karlheinz [Stockhausen] is right, everybody is right. The confusion of a young artist growing up is not the confusion that everybody is wrong and I'm right, the confusion is that everybody is right.
--- Morton Feldman

I don't owe the society anything, because it ignores me -- as virutally any composer of what I like to call "unpopular music" is essentially ignored.
--- James Tenney

What I'm saying, of course, is that you just can't worry about trying to be completely clear, because it's just not possible to write music on such a low and obvious level as to do that. On the other hand, I find that most composers exaggerate in the other direction. They think that if musical structure is clear the music will somehow lose its mystery, or people will think the composer is stupid. I find, though, that the more you understand music the more mysterious it becomes, and this is even true of pieces that have been analysed to death, like [Beethoven's] Fifth Symphony. I also find that intelligent people always respect the intelligence needed to construct a simple structure in a clear way that really works.
--- Tom Johnson

As far as being booed by the general public is concerned, who cares? My wife boos me, my children are frightened by my music...
--- Joseph Benzola

...How conservative was the avant-garde of the sixties, and how conservative has experimental music become today? I could speak about academic experimental music, but then I’m talking about killing all of the possibilities that an experiment can have. In an experiment, the end result is very difficult to predict. Certain processes are unpredictable, but experimental music has become very predictable. I’m not interested in the old opposition of avant-garde and rear-guard. I’m a classic example of someone who did things that weren’t in the mainstream during the time of the avant-garde. To obey the rules of style, I was always absolutely against that. Pieces that are written without anarchy, without going against style, against the stony dimension of style, are more-or-less impossible to hear.
--- Mauricio Kagel

It is possible to make sounds on a piano that are more orchestral than those of an orchestra.
--- Olivier Messiaen

Every tremolo, or interval, or tam-tam noise is as intensive and new as the context you stimulate for it. To liberate it, for a moment at least, from the historic implications loaded into it, this is the real challenge. It's about breaking the old context, by whatever means, to break the sounds, looking into their anatomy. Doing that is an incredible experience, full of this ambivalence I mentioned. You can still see that you knew that sound before, but now it has changed. The creative spirit did something with it. This is the only reason for me to make music - to hear, in a new way, what you knew before.
--- Helmut Lachenmann

One of the reasons [I call my music "sound art"] is that in the past 25 years the public, the people who listen to our art, don't believe that what we do is music. They ask, "Why don't you make real music?" It's because of this that I asked myself the question, and I think it's better to say that we make art. It's more "sound art" than it is "music". People perceive it this way also, because it involves noise and other sounds, not articulating a musical language. Therefore, removing the word "music" and replacing it with "art" made the statement much clearer. Art can be something new. I consider that what I do is music, but I find it boring to always answer the question of why we don't do real music. In the people's mind, music has a lot of tradition and historical background, a lot of dimension, such as people on stage, a manuscript, melody, harmony, a beat, and instruments. None of those things are present in electroacoustic music. The word art can always be redefined, and is much more broad - it leaves the door open. (Laughing) Many of my colleagues don't agree with me on this, maybe because they think that the word "music" is more noble, and also because there might be performing rights concerns. The performing rights societies might not decide to represent that art form.
--- Francis Dhomont

In my hours of gloom, when I am suddenly aware of my own futility, when every musical idiom -- classical, oriental, ancient, modern and ultramodern -- appears to me as no more than admirable, painstaking experimentation, without any ultimate justification, what is left to me but to seek out the true, lost face of music somewhere off in the forest, in the fields, in the mountains or on the seashore, among the birds?
--- Olivier Messiaen

For me, composing is not about finding the notes. It's about losing them. The most difficult thing isn't knowing what to write down; it's knowing what not to write down.
--- John Luther Adams

The more original the material, the less it is capable of calling forth that rich set of inextricably interlocked associations which is the indispensable foundation of style-specific interpretation. No, I don't think that composers can off-load this particular responsibility onto the performer; it is they who, in the final analysis, are directly charged with providing binding compositional contexts to be interpreted -- and that means, on some level, if not a "unified language," then at least an underlying and apperceivable group of communal assumptions.
--- Brian Ferneyhough

Composing for the prepared piano is not a criticism of the instrument. I'm only being practical.
--- John Cage

In the course of the past twenty years, the ivory tower has acquired some pretty audible gaps ... Well and good. In music there are sometimes similar states of affairs. What was admissible up to a certain point in time gradually can’t be done any more; musical means that were once regarded as legitimate lose their credentials... Reflection on the role of music in the many levels which constitute our society must not stop. Where clarity is the point at issue, nothing is clear. There will always be questions enough.
--- Mauricio Kagel

Before I compose a piece, I walk round it several times, accompanied by myself.
--- Erik Satie

...That is one of the main causes of this arrogance: the idea of power. Then you lose your true power which is to be part of all, and the only way you can be part of all is to understand it. And when you don't understand, you have to go humbly to it. You don't go to school and say, 'I know what you're going to teach me'.
--- John Coltrane

In three thousand years the West has abandoned values, beautiful and significant things, that in toto are at least as important as what we have preserved.
--- Harry Partch

So the answer to “What does it sound like?” is: “What century are we in?” This structure is so evergreen that it survives and mutates into completely unforeseen possibilities. That’s why I think rhythmic structures -- which is what I was getting out of studying Balinese music, which is this guy playing once every 64 beats on this gong -- what an experience that is, every eighth note is laid out, the music is going by very, very fast, music is going by moderately, music is going by incredibly slowly at the same time. Wherever your attention goes is the experience of the music that you have. But they’re all sort of sitting there on a plate for you. Do you want to go fast, medium or slow?
--- Steve Reich

... the first thing you have to face when you compose music, is how soon, and in what way, you have to reconsider what you've done.
--- Robert Ashley

We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters and the voices of the beasts and birds. We have certain helps, which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it; and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller and some deeper... We have also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.
--- Francis Bacon, "New Atlantis", 1627

My compositional system is thinking. I just think -- listen and think. I feel one shouldn't underestimate the act of just thinking and listening, especially when structuring a piece. Just thinking and listening -- very powerful compositional techniques.
--- Richard Ayres

A lot of composers in America today cling to this attitude: what I call a "macho intuitivism". I call it that, because of the sheer pride with which they announce: "I don't use any maps or charts. I just do it by 'feel'." I always get the sense that such a statement is uttered very antagonistically, as if they are daring someone to claim that they should be using "maps or charts." That it is quite prevalent in the American composition world today I find, in a way, saddening. Many composers think that they are composing directly "from the gut" or whatever, but that's not really what's happening: they are re-composing the surface habits they've learned from listening to the music of their teachers and colleagues.
--- Christopher Bailey

We don't play to be seen. I'm addicted to music, not audiences.
--- Miles Davis

For years, evidently, he [Conlon Nancarrow] lived on practically nothing but coffee... It's silly, I know, but sometimes when his music takes on a particular nervousness or intensity, I can't help thinking of Conlon diligently roasting, grinding and drinking his coffee. Perhaps Nancarrow's stomach is as "rugged" as his music! Now, despite being on doctor's orders, he remains unrepentant: "I have no regrets. Do it while you're young, and can!"
--- Peter Garland, 1979

For some time now I have been using time-brackets; sometimes they are fixed and sometimes not.... It was part, I thought, of a movement in composition away from structure, into process; away from an object having parts, into what you might call Weather.
--- John Cage

Great music is better than it can be performed.
--- Artur Schnabel

I've come up with another formulation about style: that it's essentially a manifestation of a certain habitual set of limitations. It's what a composer does NOT do that defines a style.
--- James Tenney

What, for me, is very important is to have a sort of ecological attitude toward different sounds, to just accept them as they are and try to find the right place or right function for them in the context of the piece. This is one of the problems composers have -- how to find the right function of the right sound at the right moment. The second problem is how to deal with time. There is no concept in the world that can tell you this is too long or this is too short and tells you exactly why.
--- Gérard Grisey

Joan Retallack tells the story of a person who asked Cage the initial idea he'd had for one of the "Number" pieces. As I remember it Cage said, "I began with the idea of thirty minutes," saying nothing further.
--- Rob Haskins

Electronic music has liberated the inner world, for one knows that there is nothing to be seen outside oneself, and that there can be no sense in asking with what and by what means the sounds and acoustical forms are produced... The inner world is as true as the outer.
--- Karlheinz Stockhausen

I like most music unless it's wrong.
--- Coleman Hawkins

A couple years later Ravel finished the Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré... Do you suppose he was impressed by my interpretation? Not in the least! All his interest focused on a single note: "How do you make that F on the E string sound as though it's on the G string?" I could have massacred the opening of the Berceuse without him noticing. Each time I played it he waited for "the note" which for him was the ultimate joy: the revelation of an unknown sonority.
--- Hélène Jourdan-Morhange

More incredible still than the heavenly flower or a dreamflower is the flower of the future, that contradictory flower, made up of atoms that are now in other places and whose arrangement does not yet exist.
--- Jorge Luis Borges

...There are younger composers currently emerging whose main strategy resembles a game of chicken, in that their means are intentionally stretched so thin and taut that excess expressive energy is engendered by the ever-present prospect of them self-destructing altogether. In a time of relative cultural complacency, that is surely one legitimate ploy for creating high-tension resistance in individual circumstances.
--- Brian Ferneyhough

People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts.
--- Paul Hindemith

Something is being made. And to make something is to constrain it. I have found no answer to this dilemma. My whole creative life is simply an attempt to adjust to it.... It seems to me that, in spite of our efforts to trammel it, music has already flown the coop -- escaped. There is an old proverb: "Man makes plans, God laughs." The composer makes plans, music laughs.
--- Morton Feldman

Death, for example, a supreme misfortune, is a part of life. We sense it, we anticipate it. But we prudently avoid speaking about it, as if it were a guest that we must avoid. Nevertheless, it is there, omnipresent, at our sides. Our organism, degenerating every second, knows it. Now, this definitive disappearance can be transposed in the domain of work: choices that I make when I compose music, for example. They are distressing, for they imply renouncing something. Creation thus passes through torture. But a torture which is sane and natural. That is what is most beautiful: to decide at any moment, to act, to renounce, to propose something else. It's great. The joy is the fufillment of living. That's what it means to live.
--- Iannis Xenakis

I have to keep reminding my students, asking them, "What is your experience of listening to this? Don't tell me about the notes you see on the page, tell me about what you hear."
--- James Tenney

I soon began to realize that whatever American character my music had would be the character of myself making music.... To chart a cultural development here, it seemed to me, was a waste of time, while what was and is more important is to make the present, with all its connections to the past and anticipations of the future, exist more powerfully than either of these.
--- Elliott Carter

I’ve been told that my music tells a story, but I don’t know the story.
--- Tristan Murail

For me as a composer, the meaning of music can't be a matter of soothing people and making them compliant by promising a communal spirit that crosses all frontiers. I can't make reality any better than it is.
--- Olga Neuwirth

Such Balanchine ballets as The Four Temperaments or Stravinsky's Violin Concerto are so eventful, so tightly packed with complex movement, that they can overwhelm the first-time viewer. And you know what? They're supposed to. Nobody in the world could possibly see all there is to see in The Four Ts on a first viewing, any more than he could hear all there is to hear in The Rite of Spring on a first listening. You see it, you're blown away, your head is so full of dazzling images that you can't remember any of them clearly...and there's something wrong with this?
--- Terry Teachout

My music has a very private feeling for me, and yet I don't see why eighty-three million people couldn't enjoy that private feeling. Solitude could be a universal treasure in a crowded world.
--- David Behrman

I go broke and I get ticked off, but success for me is measured by the satisfaction of performing and recording, that’s why I keep doing it. I like my own music, I listen to my friends’ music and to a lot of music... A lot of composers don’t listen to music, they don’t have time. I find that odd. I didn’t get into this business to make a lot of money, but because I love it. Well, sometimes I hate it. People ask me, "Do you really want to do this? Are you still composing?" Yes! I’m going to be composing until I die.
--- Allison Cameron

All those musics are good, all those musics are nice. Ah! Pluralism! There's nothing like it for curing incomprehension. Love, each one of you in your corner, and each will love the others. Be liberal, be generous toward the tastes of others and they will be generous to yours. Everything is good, nothing is bad; there aren't any values, but everyone is happy. This discourse, as liberating as it may wish to be, reinforces, on the contrary, the ghettos, comforts one's clear conscience for being in a ghetto, especially if from time to time one tours the ghettos of others.
--- Pierre Boulez

(Playing a standard tune is) like having to know the results of all the changes before you even play them, compacting them in your mind. So I did that, and once I had it all compacted in my head I just literally REMOVED IT ALL and just PLAYED.
--- Ornette Coleman

The abolition of non-harmony leads back to harmony. But this newly evolved harmony is not the same as the former harmony -- the historical process is irreversible.... The intervals as such are the same as in earlier music, but they are handled in a fundamentally different way: with the sounds of a dead language a new language is being evolved.
--- Gyorgy Ligeti

Music, which today is in the full vigor of its youth, is emancipated, free; it does what it likes... New needs of the mind, the heart and the aural sense necessitate new attempts and even, in certain cases, the abolition of ancient laws.
--- Hector Berlioz, 1862

Please don't try to make things nice! All the wrong notes are RIGHT. Just copy as I have -- I want it that way.
--- Charles Ives

In the Western World at the beginning of the twenty-first century, someone making an abstract painting out on the street will be observed with interest, but someone playing abstract music will be ignored (unless he's very loud), and someone reciting abstract sound poetry will be regarded as out of his mind, and eventually taken to the police station. To me there is something there that IS NOT RIGHT.
--- Jaap Blonk

...the first time I heard a Stockhausen piece was during the Hungarian revolution, because jamming was stopped. It was on 7 November 1956 and it was the first broadcast of Gesang der Jünglinge. The Soviets had come in and everybody was down in the cellars, but I went up so that I could hear the music clearly. There were detonations going on, and shrapnel, so it was quite dangerous to be listening.
--- Gyorgy Ligeti

...At the same time, I was studying with Luciano Berio and writing 12-tone music. The way I wrote 12-tone music was like, “Don’t transpose the row. Don’t retrograde the row. Don’t invert the row. Just repeat the row over and over, and you can try to sneak in some harmony.” And Berio said, “If you want to write tonal music, why don’t you write tonal music?”
--- Steve Reich

Years ago, I became interested in the idea of involuntary speech... I had been observing people -- particularly in New York -- and noticed that many many people were talking to themselves, publicly. Since I talk to myself privately, there seemed to be only a thin line between their madness and my madness. (Except that I thought of mine as music.)
--- Robert Ashley

Is this way of fusing music and words -- spurting out a phoneme when words literally fail us -- no more and no less than an attempt to organize delirium? "What a nonsensical idea," you may say, "and what a truly absurd juxtaposition of terms!" Wait one moment. Are the frenzies of the improvisor the only ones in which you are prepared to believe, then? Or the powers of some "primitive" rite? I am increasingly inclined to think that in order to make it really effective we must not only take such "frenzy" into account but even organize it.
--- Pierre Boulez

It's up to you whether you want to be on this side of the barricades or that one.
--- Arnold Schoenberg

He [Egon Petri] actually gave me very little technical knowledge, but the thing that made him the healing teacher was that as I walked through his door coming for a lesson, the questions I had all evaporated. He basically said, without actually putting it in words, "you could use me in a pinch, but you have the capacity to figure all this stuff out yourself." When we first met he said, "I think we'll work out just fine because you came on time, I see that you have a car out there, and I'm going to teach you how to prepare my favorite drink."
--- Julian White

I don't think we're going to do American opera on stage at the Met. I might be wrong but I don't think so. I think that our opera should happen in our living rooms. I don't think that the moral burden that television puts on you is any different from what is put on you by the San Francisco Symphony.
--- Robert Ashley

I recall a grumpy Louis Andriessen one day complaining that he now had students who didn't know about Honegger. I didn't tell him I had heard only precious little of Honegger's music; instead I pointed out that it's only natural that composers get forgotten. Andriessen said: "But they shouldn't forget the good ones!"
--- Samuel Vriezen

After my first work, Kruezspiel -- which sounded very strange to me when I conducted it for the first time -- I felt that a new era was beginning, with completely different methods of composition. The music was my state of the soul at the time. I composed it as if I were an astronomer from the outer world reorganizing planets and sounds and circuits and time proportions. So I was not so much identifying with sounds, but creating new sound worlds. Since then I know that a new music began about 1951.
--- Karlheinz Stockhausen

It's hard to do a piece anymore that lasts less than an hour.
--- David Tudor, 1974

To make music means to express human intelligence by sonic means. This is intelligence in its broadest sense, which includes not only the peregrinations of pure logic but also the "logic" of emotions and intuition. My musical techniques, although often rigorous in their internal structure, leave many openings through which the most complex and mysterious factors of the intelligence may penetrate.
--- Iannis Xenakis

I first played the organ at eleven. We were spending the summer holidays in a village near Karlsruhe. Somehow I managed to get permission to ascend to the organ loft, switched on the motor and played for hours (mostly tutti) what I had improvised on the piano. Suddenly — by then it had become evening — the motor stopped working. The inhabitants of the village were so upset by my playing that they cut out the electricity. That was my first experience of public response. Until then, my audience had been made up of schoolmates, teddybears and family — that is, all positively inclined.
--- Wolfgang Rihm

The things that I did in Philomel were so determined by what was possible electronically. Remember, I didn't turn to the electronic medium for "new sounds;" nothing gets as old quickly as "new sounds." It wasn't for the superficial titillation of sounds. It was for, above all, music time, the way you can control time. There's such a difference between being able to produce a sound as a performer, being able to strike the keyboard, it's automatic. To produce a duration, it's totally different. Teaching a child to imagine rhythm, a succession of durations, is so much more difficult than teaching someone to put their finger down in the right place on an instrument. Time has always created problems with contemporary music -- that's why the music wasn't performed and when it was performed, it was done sloppily. We were tired of this.
--- Milton Babbitt

John Cage believes that when people today get to understand and like his music, which is produced by banging one object with another, they will find new beauty in everyday modern life, which is full of noises made by objects banging against each other.
--- Life Magazine, 1943

Feedback comes real fast. I don't know if you remember, but before the modern computer there was a very primitive kind of computer that used cards, punched cards. I think that what happens is that there is a certain hole -- you run through all these cards until you find all the cards that have the same hole. There's a certain moment when these two items are lined up, like on an astrology chart... So what we have then is the composer who doesn't know ANYTHING. He's just sitting there stewing. He's stewing. Then there's the IBM card. He doesn't even know what that is. But he's improvising, he's improvising. Nothing. Improvising more. Improvising... BOING! There's a little match for a second. You don't need a huge explosion to get the thing going. The tiniest little flicker is enough. When you improvise, when you pretend parts of words in a poem, when you're just dabbing at your canvas, when you're just sort of stirring up an egg, you're waiting for that moment when things are lined up, SOMEWHERE, to give you a handle. It's like using pitons in mountain climbing: you don't want to step on the poor whole mountain, you just want a tiny foothold, a tiny access.
--- Julian White

A lot of this hand-wringing about the future of classical music is really stuck on old-fashioned expectations of how things work, the notion that sophisticated professionals should loyally patronize some big institution once a month and follow the latest intrigue in the world of Good Music. But I rarely meet anyone that narrowly focused on one genre -- everyone's a dilettante. "Success" in new music belongs to those who know how to retain the attention of a culture-saturated audience, and remain realistic about what kind of turnout they will get.
--- David Smey

...I have very often been to juries for composition all around the world. When you look at the scores of young composers, very often you don't have time to look at the scores completely. But the most important moment is the first change. The composer comes and establishes an idea that everybody understands. Everybody can have an idea. Everybody. The problem is to have a second one. This is a greater problem. And the major problem is to know where and when to bring in this second idea. And very often, you realize after a few pages that he is not a musician.
--- Gérard Grisey

If you know anybody who knows more popular music of the 1920s or '30s than I do, I want to know who it is. I'm serious. I mean, I grew up playing every kind of music in the world and I know more pop music from the '20s and '30s, it's because of where I grew up... We heard everything from the radio; we had to do it all by ear. We took down their arrangements; we stole their arrangements; we transcribed them, approximately. We played them for a country club dance one night, and for a high school dance the next. They would be different tastes, of course.
--- Milton Babbitt

Deep Listening is listening to everything all the time, and reminding yourself when you're not. But going below the surface too, it's an active process. It's not passive. I mean hearing is passive in that soundwaves hinge upon the eardrum. You can do both. You can focus and be receptive to your surroundings. If you're tuned out, then you're not in contact with your surroundings. You have to process what you hear. Hearing and listening are not the same thing.
--- Pauline Oliveros

…I really write for people… I've never been very interested in the systematic development of microtonality for the simple reason that it's not important to me. It's not important to me to found a school; it's not important to me to have disciples. What's important for me is to communicate the vision that I have in sound with the audience that's hearing it. And it really seems to. My music really seems to do that, if left alone. Not if somebody is lecturing people on what they should be hearing!
--- John Eaton

So if you want to explain the secret of Mozart's music - how can you? You can describe the formulas that he didn't even invent, because he was a child of his time... you can analyze it whatever way you want. Then you listen, and you realize that you didn't speak about what really happened as you were listening to it.
--- Helmut Lachenmann

I'm very curious, and I can live as a composer only once. It's a regrettable fact, but also a useful one, because a composer above all must know how to make use of time.
--- Mauricio Kagel

I think that what can be learned from rock is the nature of its appeal, the nature of its imperfection (something composers and classical performers can't abide), and the nature of its risk-taking (and its ephemeral nature, as well). Those of us who are in our fifties have to keep our mental eyes on the garage band past we all had (even if we weren't in one).
--- Dennis Báthory-Kitsz

I attempt, as long as I can, to pose questions. Perhaps I can only hear and understand what I want to hear and understand… But I do believe I have the talent to be uncertain in a productive fashion.
--- Wolfgang Rihm

For years I didn't even ask myself, "Ah, how could I be a composer and not living a professional life?" But the Americans I know, even of other generations, never thought of composition as a profession. Yesterday's amateurs become today's professionals. Yesterday's professionals become today's amateurs.
--- Morton Feldman

It's true that I'm trying to search for new sounds, but this is not my aesthetic aim or credo as an artist. With conventional or unconventional sounds, the question is how to create a new, authentic musical situation. The problem isn't to search for new sounds, but for a new way of listening, of perception. I don't know if there are still new sounds, but what we need are new contexts.
--- Helmut Lachenmann

I also remember what Xenakis said to me in a cafeteria at the New York Airport as if it were just yesterday: "Human beings are bound by their own perception of time and space. Is it possible to escape from the labyrinth of this sad glass box, and be awakened to Being which envisages the 'now' as the 'forever', and the 'here' as two-hundred-million light-years away?"

The best things in Bruno Maderna's own music, the prize moments, sprang from this immediate, irrational musical sense, and for this reason his most succesful works are those that leave the most initiative to the players. At the end of his last work, an oboe concerto, he wrote: "I hope that I have provided enough material for the soloist, conductor and orchestra to come to terms and enjoy playing what I have written." In a way he gave birth to a music that he carried, like a mother, and then absolutely trusted.
--- Pierre Boulez

I believe strongly in hierarchies, in values. The fascination of music is that it is meaningful on many levels. It's wrong to listen for only one element, because there are so many things going on. There's more than just melody in Bach, and there's more than just pitch relationships in Schoenberg. The listener's depth of understanding has to do with the number of relationships he can find. The ideal listener is the one who can catch all the implications; the ideal composer is the one who can control them.
--- Luciano Berio

I hope that both techno and electroacoustics will continue to evolve, in parallel with each other. We shouldn't take the model of the pop music concert, or let popular music become the only mode of musical expression. There are composers that want to have a large audience and make a lot of money, and that's fine, and there are composers/artists that want to be more in the expressive arts and reach a smaller audience, not necessarily to make money out of it. But those people that select concert music should not complain that they don't have an audience, because that is the nature of the form. I am very happy when 100 people come to my concert and have interest in it. I find that wonderful.
--- Francis Dhomont

The concept of line is something performers all understand, but composers are usually the last people to get it. Line for me is not melody, or harmony. It’s the succession of one sound after another, in a manner that the ear can follow the logic, and that there is some kind of journey involved. There are many levels on which that can happen. It can be purely visceral, as it would in a pop tune, or in a highly rarified way as it does in the Boulez Structures. Nevertheless, there has to be some kind of followable aural logic to what is going on. Continuity is part of it, but it’s also that the composer has made sense of why two sounds happen side by side. The ability to continue that, and make it into something somewhat longer, is a comparatively rare gift.
--- Gary Kulesha

What I’m trying to do is something that I love, what I like, and think I need. In that moment, you have to be very honest. A few months ago, during a podium discussion in Scandinavia, I was asked to give advice for young composers, and my only word was to be honest. If you try to be honest with yourself, and write what you think you need, not what you think other people need, or music critics, or colleagues, you will then be trying to communicate your truth. If it has that truth, then it will be interesting.
--- Mauricio Kagel