Role Description

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Photo of Composer

Composer

As Primary Roles

    • None

As Secondary Roles

    • None

A composer (literally meaning 'to put together') is a person who creates music, usually in the medium of notation, for interpretation and performance (which may be repeated an unlimited number of times) by other musicians. The composer is the 'author' of the music.

The level of distinction between composers and other musicians varies, which affects issues such as copyright and the deference given to individual interpretations of a particular piece of music. For example, in the development of European music, the function of composing music initially had no greater importance than the function of performing music. The preservation of individual compositions received little attention, and musicians generally had no qualms about modifying compositions for performance. Over time, however, the written notation of the composer has come to be treated as strict instructions, from which performers should not deviate without good reason. Performers do, however, play the music and interpret it in a way that is all their own. In fact, in the concerto form, the soloist would often compose and perform a cadenza as a way to express their individual interpretation of the piece.

More recently, scorewriter programs have become available, allowing composers to typeset music without the need of an engraver.

The term 'composer' is often used specifically to mean a composer in the mainstream Western tradition of 'classical' music. In popular and folk music, the composer is typically called a songwriter (since the music generally takes the form of a song).