Monday Musings: Where Are The Women?

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Courtesy of skeeze @ pixabay.com

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017! I hope all your holidays and festivities went well. If they didn’t, well… I hope things get better for you in the coming days.

I’m doing all right. Just came back from a wonderful winter vacation with the family and the Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson show in Las Vegas, so music is on my mind.

Though rather than the upbeat Michael Jackson kind of music, I’m going to talk about classical music, film score music, video game music, and all that good instrumental stuff.

Because I love writing and listening to that kind of music.

My Relationship With Music

As I wrote last year, music is one of the most influential sources of creativity for me. Some people get inspired when looking at a painting or watching somebody dance. I get inspired to write stories when listening to music, and I get inspired to write music when writing stories.

On many daily morning drives to middle school and high school, when I didn’t need to study for a test or try to complete homework in the back of the car, I’d ask my mom to turn on the radio to the classical music station KUSC. I daydreamed about characters parting from each other and falling in love — about Roman gods and each of the planets named after them. Although I stopped taking piano lessons around freshman year of high school and didn’t study much in the way of musical theory and history after that, I got so much exposure to all different kinds of composers and styles across time from Baroque to Romantic (the Romantic Period’s my fave, by the way).

It was in these moments I came to name my fave all-time classical composers: Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Bizet, Satie, Ravel, and more. It’s what also made me look more closely at the film score composers I enjoyed like John Williams, Joe Hisashi, Miklos Rozla, Jerry Goldsmith, and Hans Zimmer. And then, that me me look more closely at the video game composers I enjoyed like Toby Fox, Koh Ohtani, Miwako Chinone, Suzuki Marika, and Yoko Shimomura.

And only now, after it’s been eight years since I’ve quit my piano lessons and dived headfirst into the world of composing music, it hits me like a brick on my head.

The great majority of the composers I look up to are men.

And I’m not a man.

I’m a woman.

Where Are The Women?!

I’ve heard of female authors. I’ve heard of female musicians and songwriters. Tons of them out there.

But what about the gut-busting orchestral symphonic composers? The cinematic classical composers? The video game composers?

Where are they? Where were they? Where will they be?

Am I paranoid or just unaware of their existence? And if I’m unaware of their existence, why am I unaware of it? Why don’t I hear about them more? Why, in August 2015, does Jessy McCabe, student of Edexecel, have to petition for more female composers on the syllabus?

I’m not saying that I dislike the composers that I’ve come to love. They have their merits.

But… what about the female ones? Why isn’t Clara Schumann taken more seriously than her husband, Robert Schumann?

And how many people have heard of Amy Beach and her fabulous Gaelic Symphony? (The podcast and the actual symphony are both awesome, by the way. You should take a listen, if you have the chance.)

I just wish the world of music would take a break and acknowledge that there are female composers out there that are doing the same thing. We can’t just hide behind the assumption that everyone back in the day was sexist and that no women in the world didn’t want to compose. And we can’t hide behind that assumption now.

I can’t because I break that assumption as a composer.

Heh… I’m all fired up now.

Watch out.

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