Celebrating Composers: Understanding the Art of Music Creation

January 15th marks Composer's Day in Mexico, a celebration of the authors, composers, and music publishers who bring music to life. Learn about the creative and technical aspects of composing and the important role it plays in connecting us with the world.

Celebrating Composers: Understanding the Art of Music Creation
Honoring Musical Composers by Deciphering the Complexity of the Creative Process. Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Music is omnipresent in our lives; it forms a part of our emotions, whether we're happy, sad, pensive, or angry. This art form connects us with the composer, even if we don't know who they are, and the connection is intuitive.

Composers are musicians who have always existed in all cultures, civilizations, and eras. They are known for their natural musical talent, creativity, and technical prowess. "Composers have a musical vision as well as the desire to experiment," says José Francisco Cortés Alvarez, composer, producer, arranger, and UNAM professor. "They are creative, but the process of composing also requires technical knowledge, such as harmony, counterpoint, transitions, and melody."

In Mexico, January 15 is celebrated as Composer's Day. On this day in 1945, the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico was founded to recognize the rights of authors. In 1983, the celebration officially began, and the Mexican Union of Authors, Composers, and Music Publishers was created.

According to Professor Cortés Álvarez, creativity is hard to teach, but techniques help composers come up with new musical ideas. He distinguishes between a performer, who follows the score; an interpreter, who adds their touch to the work; and the composer, who is the interpreter of their work, or someone else with a deep understanding of the music. Cortés Álvarez, who studied Music Composition at UNAM and received a master's degree and doctorate from Indiana University in the US, says that while composers have better musical analysis, composing takes a long time to master.

Cortés Álvarez, who is also the founder of the Program in Musical Composition at the School of Fine Arts of Universidad Panamericana, believes that audiences should be open to new proposals in contemporary music. He says that orchestras like the UNAM Philharmonic or the Minería Symphony have a more open audience, who are less traditional and more receptive. He adds that modernism, the desire to differentiate from the past and create something new, has existed in music and other arts since the beginning of the 20th century.

In the 1950s, the 1960s, and 1970s, creators were free to experiment with abstract and novel musical proposals without having to please the audience. Today, there is a multitude of musical styles and tastes, ranging from abstract symphonic music to pop and metal. In conclusion, Cortés Álvarez believes that it's appropriate to celebrate Composer's Day as it brings art closer to the people and makes this profession visible.