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#1152169 - 01/28/08 08:34 PM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_deb:
So, odd as it may sound to a musician, referring to the composer of a poem, etc. is correct.
[/b]
Correct perhaps, but confusing. Well actually, not so much confusing as not specific enough for me. I do find that language is getting more and more general, and in so doing is not as bright and vivid as it could be. Anyway, son is pleased to be finished with English and is heading off to uni to study his first love, science \:\) .
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1152170 - 01/28/08 08:46 PM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi,

I think that this is more a matter of accepted common usage and personal preference than ‘correctness’ as such.

The words composer and composition have a wide range of uses, but they don’t always go hand in hand.

For instance, we might talk about the ‘composition’ of a painting, but we wouldn’t then talk about the role of the composer – we’d say ‘artist’ or ‘painter’. Similarly we might argue about the composition of a football team but we’d hardly call for the ‘composer’ to be sacked – we’d just say that whoever picked the team got it wrong.

If I got angry and lost my ‘composure’ most people would accept it if I said that I needed to go outside for a moment or two and compose myself. But some might giggle at that and find it a slightly quaint way to put it. There’s no hard and fast rules based on the original derivation of a word.

It’s perfect usual to refer to essays, poems and the like as ‘compositions’ but most people would expect their creators to be referred to as ‘authors’, ‘writers’, ‘poets’ or a number of other possibilities before ‘composers’. It might be technically not a mis-use, but it would still sound odd to many people. Depending on the area in question, you may find 'composition' widely used yet the verb form 'to compose' more rarely, and 'composer' not at all.

However, common usage changes constantly, so if a word gets used often enough in a certain way, then – like it or not – that’s what it comes to mean. Some words that we use today started out historically meaning the exact opposite of what we use them to mean now.

Cheers,

Chris
_________________________
Who needs feet of clay? I can get into enough trouble with feet made of regular foot stuff...

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#1152171 - 01/28/08 09:03 PM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Beginner:
There’s no hard and fast rules based on the original derivation of a word.
[/b]
Good points, Chris, and interesting. I would actually refer to the "composition" of a photograph, but I would be meaning "the putting of this object here on the left and balancing it with this other thing over there", not the act of clicking the shutter. And i would definitely call its creator a photographer and not a composer, just for clarity's sake. Maybe "creator" is the general all-purpose word I'd prefer to the English course's "composer".
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1152172 - 01/28/08 09:12 PM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi again,

Here's another example. I might talk about the 'composition' of a chemical compound. I might even say "it is 'composed of'... " but I'd probably be unlikely to say "Im off to compose a new compound..." or refer to somebody who did as a 'composer'.

No real reason, except that we don't usually use the words that way. ;\)

Actually, there is a reason. \:\) English is an unusually mongrel language that has absorbed words from all over the place - Latin, Greek, French, German, Scandinavian languages, even from India, China, America, etc, etc. So we have an unusually large number of synonyms and alternatives to choose from. And we have a habit of switching from one form or usage to another in a way that must be completely baffling to non English speakers.... \:D

Chris

Recommended reading: Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. A very readable book on the development and use of the English language.
_________________________
Who needs feet of clay? I can get into enough trouble with feet made of regular foot stuff...

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#1152173 - 01/28/08 11:59 PM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
Maybe "creator" is the general all-purpose word I'd prefer to the English course's "composer". [/b]
I'm with you on that one too. \:\)

I've done a fair bit of writing over the years, including co-authoring manuals, occasional poetry, song lyrics, work for the theatre, odds and ends for newspapers, etc. But I never thought of myself as the 'composer' of any of it - just the writer. However, the beauty of having so many options in English is that you can also employ less used words to add a bit of extra meaning, such as in: "I'll have to compose a suitably apologetic letter to the Board.." or "I've been asked to compose an ode to Councillor Blowhard on the occasion of his retirement"... In that case, you'd normally use 'write', but 'compose' adds a touch of slightly tongue in cheek seriousness to the process. Maybe they just thought that calling them 'composers' made the course sound a bit grander than it really was?


Gotta love English though....

Cheers,

Chris
_________________________
Who needs feet of clay? I can get into enough trouble with feet made of regular foot stuff...

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#1152174 - 03/25/08 06:14 AM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
blacvi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 48
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Beginner:
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
for me:
writing music = composing
one who writes music (of any sort) = composer
music which is composed = composition
composition which is sung (solo or small group) = song
one who writes songs (of any sort) = songwriter. Or composer, depending on the context. I'm happy to call Schubert a songwriter! [/b]
For me too!

And, incidentally, for any dictionary that you'd care to consult as well. ;\)

Where the personal opinions, bunfights and general snootiness comes in is when you capitalise it and start talking about Composers[/b] with a capital C.

Rough Rules of Thumb for Recognising Composers:

1. Dead (the deader the better). During his lifetime Puccini was probably regarded as a popular tunesmith - much like Andrew Lloyd Webber - but he is unquestionably dead enough now to be revered as a Composer. As a long time fan of Opera By Dead People, I can assure everybody that much of it was as corny and awful in its day as anything modern (and if you remove the veneer of deadness respectability, much of it still is. ).

2. Serious. No jingle writers, penners of pub tunes, or dirty limerick merchants please.

3. Extra points for bizarre hair and/or episodes of madness or angst.

I am a composer (small c). I have created and written music. I can even (grammatically correctly) claim to have composed the odd thoughtful letter (usually asking for something). However I'm definitely not a Composer (but check the obituary columns, I'm not getting any younger... :p )

Cheers,

Chris [/b]
Ahah, that made my very short day.

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#1152175 - 03/26/08 05:37 AM Re: "Composing" vs "Songwriting"
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
I consider myself a composer/songwriter.

A "song" is only one kind of composition. If you only write songs, then you're a songwriter or a “composer of songs”.

If however, you write instrumental music, you're a composer.

If you wear both hats, you're a composer/ songwriter.

At least that's how I see it.

Best, John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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