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All Content ©2019 by John A. Carollo

Musical Viewpoints

Staying Consistently Great

Every composer can write some interesting music, only a few can compose music that keeps you wanting more with every listen.  Only a few can consistently write music that keeps your attention, entertains you in ways you thought were impossible, and does not dull you with mindless derivativeness.   With each and every listen you hear something new, you hear something fresh and alive, you hear a genius express his greatness to the world.  These great composers have something in common: greatness against the time and greatness with the time.  They write for themselves, and for future generations with an open heart.

Take Advantage of Unintentional Incidents in Music

During the process of composing music unintentional events occur that can sometimes take you in a new direction.  Instead of fighting the urge to continue on a path that was "pre-calculated" it often occurs to me to flow down the path that the unintentional incident takes you.  New inventions often happen when an "accident" occurs as it gives the inventor an idea that was not considered.  In music we desire a mix of the old and new in a newly composed work and, therefore, "unintentional incidents" can get us thinking of new possibilities which enhances rather the detracts from the overall listening experience.  

Freedom to Create

The beauty of creation lies in the freedom of expression that artists bring to their “creation palette.”  The range of colors stimulates the ears, eyes and all the senses. Form is essential as well as repetition and contrast.  Everything in nature stimulates; every recombination is possible.

Inspiration

I have always believed that inspiration comes from the ether and cannot be taught.  Composition teachers can advise on the techniques that modern composers use and what was used in the past, but they can never teach inspirational techniques!  A friend just e-mailed me and said the following: “The greatest music can’t be devised with a step-by-step intellectual process, it is as though it comes from some other place outside of our minds and even beyond time, and those composers know this.  Otherwise, anyone could study harmony and counterpoint through the 1700s and then become another Mozart!”

 

So true Michael, so true.

Final Edits Part II

Final musical edits include a total auditory review of the end product being produced.  These can include, but not be limited to, small tweaks to rhythm, placement of notes on staff, pitch adjustments, making octave displacements, or perhaps giving titles to a work whose emotional impact arrived after the score was completed. The composer often makes the comprehensive review of the entire work, remembering to take into consideration the above aspects of musical language, after completion of the final draft.

Final Edits

Just as in other art forms, in music the final edits complete the overall vision of the creator.  Often, it’s the smallest change that makes the biggest difference. We zoom in to change the smallest aspect of the work in progress.  As the painter helps to define a close-up image with a few brush strokes, the composer alters the sonic landscape for an enhanced listening experience.  

The Muse Never Leaves

There was a time when I composed music and wanted to sound like JS Bach.  I admired him so much.  Now I create music effortlessly without thinking about inspirational

sources.  The muse never left since childhood when the gift of music entered my consciousness.  The force guiding me resides within the boundaries of awareness, such that its presence can be felt throughout the creative process.  Therefore, I never fear for lack of inspiration as the muse remains till death do us part.

Music's Completion

I am at the end of composing my new sextet for the love of my life who died in March.  I never imagined that my longest single movement work would be composed during the Grim Reaper's visit.  But then all great music comes to an end, the moment in time when it's death is inevitable and we all die with it.  But during its exhilarating existence we celebrate the highs and lows, the sensual conversation that leads to one of many climaxes glorifying the joy of life.

Capturing Special Moments

I do not often dedicate music to anyone in particular.  It has to be a special event, memory or an inspirational moment that captures the imagination.  In these memorable occasions, music flows effortlessly and the art of creation intensifies.  Capturing the essence of meaning is easier than one would think.  Feelings are enhanced and its translation to sonic realities is mostly effortless.

Without Formula

True originals act by instinct and without formula.  They seldom understand their own works as an historian, theorist or critic might. Mozart created out of need and spontaneity. He could not understand the theory behind his work. Words are ineffectual.  They cannot articulate the divine. Art is indescribable yet thrills the senses for all time. 

Composers Defined

Composers change over time, sharpening their skills as their music evolves.  If you define a modern artist by one early creative outburst you run the risk of neglecting future-defining works that will give you an overall musical perspective of his/her career.  Long ago someone mentioned how disappointed he was in Dylan's new release, I replied that it is our responsibility to look forward to the next work, the next creative outburst.  It is more rewarding then dwelling in music heard, where familiarity could breed jadedness.

Music Discovered

When we buy a book, we often set it aside for future reading enjoyment.  Often, too many competing interests engulf us, leaving the newfound treasure to sit among a shelf of publication wonders. Likewise with music purchased for listening we may not hear it until the proper time comes when its rediscovery pleases the senses.  When the time is right, all things have its moments of discovery and wonderment.  It's music that has not been heard that we should revere.  The moment of discovery may be remembered far longer than its 9th listening experience.

The Good Use of Musical Materials

Quality music requires the use and reuse of inspired patterns of invention.  These patterns can be new, used or altered.  When listening to music, the brain seems to need something to latch onto, some repetitive figure that can be remembered.  If the music is too random, we loose interest.  Take an idea, which is new, use it again and then alter its shape.  The alterations can come from the bag of tools all composers use. These include: octave transpositions, canonic devises, ostinatos, coloristic effects, etc.  Using patterns of invention is the easier part of the equation.  Inspiration seems to be present at birth; the talented artist lives and breathes his art.

Composers As They Age

I have been getting several of my early piano works in Finale software and came to the realization that as composers age their music gets more sophisticated. The music improves over time and it becomes easier to write music.  You can endlessly borrow from yourself, correct past mistakes and enhance the new music as it begins to dry on the printed page. Composers seldom run out of ideas, which keeps the music interesting and novel.  Most live to a ripe old age composing for self-entertainment, jollification and amusement. Nothing can be more satisfying as a sentient being.

Fame's Entrapments

Self-deception seems to be a human folly.  You often hear of a person's rise to fame as a journey through loneliness, drug addiction and/or pain.  The Residents is an art band from the San Francisco area.  They wear costumes when they perform to hide their identities.  Whether or not this may be a gimmick to keep music sales higher, when they all go home they are not hounded by the paparazzi or deluded fans.  Michael Jackson wished he could have walked down a street without hassle and with anonymity.  When you are content to create art for its beauty and its total satisfaction to move you, fame becomes secondary and most likely not desirous.  I relish this thought.

A Musician's Creative Life

When you look at the complete works of a musician's creative life, you can cull from these a handful of pieces worth listening to.  You just do not have the time to listen to it all and if you do, you really will only hear it all once or at the most twice in your lifetime, unless, of course, you are a scholar and your life's ambition is to know everything about an artist. It behooves us to read the best books written by a writer, likewise to hear the best music composed by a composer.  The beauty of the iPod is that you can have a playlist of those masterpieces you enjoy and take it with you on long walks as you absorb nature's beauty.  It turns out that we all have preferences and will hear one particular favored work many times while hearing a less inspired one only a few, if at all.  And given the ever-growing world's music library we will never hear many artists' works for endless different reasons.  How sad, too much music, not enough time! 

Simply Complicated

When creating a new musical work we are often reminded that performers are expected to master the new music and then give its premiere.  (You can opt to not have this expectation and create music for no one to perform.  This option has all kinds of implications, including music sitting on a shelf in the backyard barn for no one to hear until the composer is long dead only to live when the music flows into the airwaves.)  Let's imagine that you are creating a work for a performer to play at his/her next concert.  How simple or complicated should this music be?  It turns out that it is all complicated!  New modern music, though a score may look simple, is always complicated.  This was true 300 years ago and it's true today.  Unless it's a simple Fanfare of 12 seconds duration, most music has its intricacies that challenge the performer and hopefully challenge the listener to experience a wondrous display of sonic vibrations.  This means that the executant has to study the score(s) with attention paid to detail and always latitude for personal expression, which gives the music uniqueness and adds to the complexity of the overall work!

For Whom or For What Reason?

An artist can create a work of art for different reasons.  Among them are: to make some quick cash, to add to his/her repertoire, for a dedication, to satisfy a commission's demands, for the love of it, to answer the muse's calling, to explicate an academic argument, to satisfy the appetite of your audience, out of sheer boredom, to add to the historical cannon of musical works, to display your compositional acumen, to fill up a CD's space requirements, to elucidate a compositional device, or to complete a part of your oeuvre.  Making assumptions about the purpose for a piece of music is like walking through a nest egg of possibilities.  For whom a musical work was composed or for what reason has intimate answers that can be best answered by the composer.

Musical Anticipation

When you are listening to a familiar piece of music, you can anticipate what will happen next.  This predictive power makes the listening experience enjoyable.  But, if you are hearing a work for the first time it becomes a bit harder to know for certainty what will happen next.  It can be argued that not knowing the musical outcome increases its listening pleasure.  As a creator of new music, not having a "map" to outline its future course can be both exciting and challenging.  When we do not know what will happen next the musical creation gains intensity and power as it develops and our listening experience matches what the creator experiences as his "invention" unfolds.

Freedom From Verbal References or Musical Shackles in Music Manuscripts?

I once had a musical lesson with a double bassist who reviewed my violin and double bass work.  He mentioned that you could never have enough descriptors for musicians directing their interpretation of the music they see.  It reminds me of the modern musical movement called serialism, where composers use a series of values to manipulate different musical elements.  But to control every aspect in music is to chain the musical elements in shackles, thereby stifling creativity.  For these reasons, I like freedom from verbal reference (or absolute music) in musical manuscripts.  Executants will, therefore, be able to express themselves as they interpret the composer's artistic statement, which really is a template of musical ideas organized in a meaningful manner.  Each musician construes for themselves the composer's intentions giving an artistic license to be creative during the interpretation process.  A new listening experience for the audience is the outcome and a musical statement that is fresh with each performance.

When Musicians Die Young

I can think of several young artists that died just as their song writing abilities were becoming strong.  It is a profound tragedy.  Sandy Denny is one of them.  Her song, I'm a Dreamer, was on her last release and will be known as a classic song along side of several other heartfelt creations.  I think of what could have been and the lack of many creations that were not to be.  It's not like they had a fruitful long life and we could choose between many works.  We can, however, remain pleased that we can select a handful of gems that were written in youthful bursts of energy as part of their legacy.

Folk Music

Folk music gives us many reasons to celebrate the cultural diversity of music making from around the world.  With its rich tradition of grand story telling that imparts meaningful wisps of wisdom with each tale, to its judicious use of complex rhythms and unique combinations of instrumental wizardry, we are blessed indeed.  My huge collection of English traditional music gives me many hours of entertainment and inspiration for my own musical undertakings.  We should be thankful for every musician that partakes in musical adventures which gives humanity glimpses into the lives of our gifted musical brothers and sisters.

Conducting While You Are Composing Music

It seems to me if you begin to spontaneously start to conduct the music that you are writing as you are hearing it, the music, in all probability, contains that elusive element of quality.  We often ask ourselves, once a work is completed, "Does it have real substance?" If you are moving to your music, then yes, indeed! :)

"No Serious Music Has Been Written in 75 Years"

is what a person posted in response to a NY Times article about the current music of OMD.  Being a composer who is writing serious music, I responded:

 

"Gordon, your remark that no "serious" music has been written in 75 years is misinformed. The history of classical music includes artists who are discovered years after their deaths, where other composers "resurrect" the music that has been sitting in barns, bookshelves, or lined as garbage bags for the trash. I have just completed 9 orchestral works since the beginning of this year, a Fanfare for two trumpets that will be recorded at 2:00 p.m. today for the 10th anniversary Honolulu Triathlon, 9 miniatures for piano solo and a solo violin work. We do not need fame, nor desire it. It's the music that matters most above anything else. It will always have life as long as there are executants who choose to perform it."

Endless Editing

When composers die their music making days obviously comes to an end and they can no longer edit their own music.  That presents a problem for those left to help preserve our nation's musical heritage.  We can think that when a musical work has been performed and recorded that the composer's intention have been elucidated, but that would be an error in thinking.  There really is no final musical statement of a composer, a place where perfection exists and there can be no improvement. Perhaps it could be true of a genius-master composer, let's say Mozart.   But, if he were alive today, he may voice complaint about how his music has been treated over the centuries.  He may prefer one musical interpretation to another.  Even then, he could be critical about the smallest detail, the tiniest of nuance, or some minuscule defect that could not have been improved upon because of budget limitations or of performance shortcomings.  In the end all we can do as composers is strive for perfection knowing that, ultimately, as mortals, it is out of reach for all of us. 

PBS

I received a phone call from a PBS phone solicitor thanking me for my most recent donation.  She asked if there was anything I would like them to do differently.  Because I was composing music at the time and my brain was involved in hearing altered vibrations, I said no and thanked her for the contact.  It was only a few days later that I realized I had squandered a great opportunity.  Since PBS exists mainly by donations through fund drives and they collect millions of dollars from music lovers every year, why not start commissioning composers in their respective communities to write some music?  It would stimulate every community across America to be involved in

musical undertakings.  PBS could then showcase their community composers and have on record a unique collection of music specific to their geographic region.  Typically, they do just the opposite by asking composers to donate a musical work during a fund drive with the proceeds going to the radio station.  I think it is time to support local musical artists who are expected to bring forth their projects with no financial support from anyone.  

Hearing the Potential of What Could Have Been

Music is an art form where perfection occurs at the next performance. Because human beings are not infallible, unwanted errors creep into the musical experience, whether it is a live or recorded performance. For example, during a recorded studio performance many takes are required to get the right articulation of a musical passage or the right musical dynamic.  Listening with a critical ear can lead to exhilaration or disappointment depending on what your criteria is for a "great" performance.  Expecting too much can lead to dismay while attending into a particular aspect can lead to joy.  Perhaps it is best to guard against being overly critical, thereby avoiding musical paralysis, and just enjoy the moment, being aware that we all strive for that allusive thing we call "perfection."

Virgil Thomson

The Selected Writings of Virgil Thomson (1924-84) continues to inspire eleven years after its first publication.  He has got to be one of the finest writers about music in the 20th century. Full of wit and charm and seemingly so accurate about all aspects of our musical landscape, you discover a gold mine of musical insights and delights with each

paragraph.  A great composer in his own right, Thompson also worked for the Herald Tribune from the 40's through the 60's where he contributed essays about how we make music, perform it and send it to the market place. You need to read his Why Composers Write How and How Composers Eat, essays from 1939, to get a good description of how composers have made their living though the ages. He corrects misconceptions you may have about the musical life of composers and will reinforce the notion that many of us make very little from the art of composing music.

The Musical Painting

As I complete my Orchestral Suite, I see it as a musical painting.  Knowing what follows the initial brush strokes is not merely intuition, but a sense of having a mental picture of the total design.  No need to sketch it out as it is already there mapped out in its entire mental splendor, ready to be realized through the conduit of creativity.  Musical shades appear as timbre, the color of music, making for a varied, interesting listening experience.  A painting, as well as music, has logic and a particular language, which comprises the cohesive elements that we recognize as form.  The composer's series of musical variations are just the painter's use of common themes and styles that are varied with each re-production.  Your musical painting needs to speak out giving people a reason to cast their constructs to construe a unique observation of the new work of art!

The Final Edits or Avoiding Future Embarrassments

There are two moments when you say to yourself, "I have completed my composition until rehearsals begin."  The first is when you have expressed your final notations and the second is when you have completed your enharmonic interval reviews.  I used to dislike the latter as it was a lot of work (3 or 4 days) and no new music was being created (the real agony).  Now I see it in a new light where I get a chance to improve the musical work, as indeed music improves during the editing process.  Mistakes are discovered, thereby avoiding future embarrassments.  New ideas form from looking at the music in more detail; I call this "the magnifying effect!"  When looking at the overall musical design, we can miss the minutiae that hold the piece together.  Looking at the music up close can offer a wealth of opportunities for improvement. 

Rules of Musical Engagement

While composing music, I often set up rules that are not overtly stated, but silently adhered to.  Being an admirer of George Kelly's The Psychology of Personal Constructs, it is easy for me to understand that we formulate theories about the world we live in, as incipient scientists, constantly canvassing our world for familiarity in which to cast our constructs upon.  Our "labels" help us to understand and validate the events that pass by while we actively engage in our activities.  So, as I compose a new set of piano miniatures, one each day, as a break from orchestral writing, my rules include: short, easy pieces, no longer than 2 pages; if anything can add to 9, all the better; these works will be templates for larger pieces in the future; take the first "musical impression" that comes to mind on the keyboard and work with it (the pieces need to sound spontaneous); the music can sound old and new at the same time; breaking traditional musical theory rules are ok and not to be feared; and children can be as easily entertained as adults while sight reading.  What fun I will have crafting the last 7 pieces of "Miniatures."

William Moritz in Search of Visual Music

I had the pleasure of meeting William Moritz 30 years ago.  We met through a mutual friend in San Diego, California and went to LA together (after reading a Frank O'Hara poem at his house) for a Shakespeare play in Topanga Canyon.  I also witnessed his glorious poetry readings with his fellow poet Margaret Porter.  I was saddened to read his obituary yesterday.  He died in 2004 after a long bout with throat cancer and discovered that he penned a book entitled "Optical Poetry" (a definitive biography on the works of Oskar Fischinger).  I ordered it from Amazon.com and am waiting with much eagerness for its arrival.  Bill gave me many of his poems (he was a giver with such a gentle heart), posters, and magazines and wrote a personal letter asking to meet to read poetry and share intimacies.  After 30+ years, he went on to write two plays, became a great film historian, authored more than 100 articles, became an expert on animation, experimental film and visual music, and created 34 films!  WOW, what a creative life!  I am astounded that our paths met for a few months and that we both took on different artistic endeavors.  His desire to create "a moving, abstract image, as fluid and harmonic as auditory music," began during the time of our brief interlude.  His quote reminds me of one of Bill's films we previewed which took the music of Ray Davies (Celluloid Heroes) as a background of a film crowd exiting the theater in a slow, romantic dance that, in reflection, was his artistic statement of filming harmonic images.  He died just before the publication of his monumental book that will be arriving in a few days. I wait with fond aloha and regret not having scored some film music for him, but he probably would reject the offer given his artistic aesthetics.

Musical Reflections Upon A Hill

Went hiking up a mountainous path to reflect upon things musical.  I am reminded of a song from Family, an inventive rock quartet from the 1969-70's, "Observations From a

Hill."  Experiencing inspiration during long walks through nature allows you to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life and gives you a chance to look inward, letting go of the stresses of modern life.  Compositional life is a solitary one.  No one can assist you except a mentor who can guide you through untold pitfalls, teach you what can not be found in a book, and do musical reviews with thumbs firmly in the up position or down.  After awhile you can be your own judge, and ultimately, you have to be enthusiastically excited by your creations or no one else will be.

To Improve a Work or Music Seldom Arrives in a Perfect State

One of the many ways to improve a musical work is to transcribe it for an ensemble.  As you orchestrate your new piece, you discover the "mistakes" of the original work.  Often, you also add ideas that did not arrive when you had the first inspiration.  Not only do you have another gem to add to your growing catalogue of works, but also you will be able to improve an older work, which is what we all do eventually anyway.  Music seldom arrives in a perfect state.  We have to edit our creations until the feeling of complete satisfaction arrives.  As I compose orchestra works this year (just completed one), I get to improve my Piano Etudes.  What a joyous outcome indeed!

Aesthetically Speaking

We can learn much from other composers.  It has been a tradition to study scores and extract its core essence.  Dangers arise when we "extract" and "borrow" too much and therefore, our own creations sound like our predecessors, derivative and not very original.  Other pitfalls include "throwing in" too many ideas into a score.  I can look back at my own creations and see that what is one piece of music is really ten.  Being crisp and concise is now a conscious effort, taking an idea and expounding upon it.  Reflecting back on my own writings, I can see that the poems that stand out are the ones delineating a single subject matter.  It is the simple idea that is the most complex to elucidate. 

The Need to be Different

I am often told, that as an artist, you need to be different from the rest.  You need to have something that sets you apart from the race to be an established, influential, go-down in history composer.  Call it “style,” “technique,” “methodology,” “form,” “approach,” or “modus operandi,” it is true that there is this “something” that sets the real McCoy apart from their contemporaries.  The identifying features from my perspective is simply being yourself and doing what you like best.  It can be complicated or it can be simple depending on your aesthetics.  And that is OK.  You have to be passionate about your art and love it to the point that it owns you.  Your art is your addiction. Nothing else really matters except that you keep your art flowing out from the ether.  And it matters not that it gets exposure.  It is the act of creating, that solitary set of behaviors you have established, that makes you different.  You have no need except the need to create and, therefore, your uniqueness will shine henceforth and for posterity.

Institutional Support

Artists who have institutional support have distinct advantages over those who do not.  It is both expensive and challenging when you do not have institutional support.  Booking venues, licensing fees, programs and promotions cost money.  When you have financial backing, you may believe that your music travels a smoother yellow-brick road.  But some rejoice in the very act of music making while caring not about the opinions of financial barons, be they institutions or private benefactors.  A dictate by any other name is still a dictate.  And a bitter pill can become hard to swallow when your music is in the hands of those who control purse strings and gives you musical dimensions that are not in line with your aesthetics.

Recombination

My thoughts have been about the nature of musical construction as I complete my Piano Suite VIII in 9 sections today.  It is all about recombination and the casting of musical materials the composer chooses as his musical language.  One language is not better than another.  One language is not more useful than another.  Musical material from the past gets reorganized and presented in a way that sounds unique because the means by which the music gets rearranged is new.  We borrow methodologies from the past; interweave them with our musical language and the resultant new music gets cast into the future.

Music on a Shelf

The title of this blog, Music on a Shelf, reminds me of books on a library shelf, many sit waiting to be read.  Such can be the life of an artistic endeavor.  I often get the feeling of dread that another completed musical work would spend its life on a shelf, unheard.  Nothing Shall Come of This, which will be recorded next June in Olomouc, Czech Republic, is a string orchestra piece, which started its life as a solo piano work.  Performers do not readily seek out new works unless they are paid well and composers are expected to bring forth their creations on their own, with no financial backing to produce it.  Nothing Shall Come of This attempts to capture the human condition we label as “sadness,” when creations that excite the creator are left to idle among a collection of neglected works.

Supporting Our Children’s Artistic Needs

Our children inherit the world we design.  We need to support their artistic desires as early as possible so they can improve on our creation when they become adults.   They model after our behaviors and we shape their destiny.   How we support their artistic needs now determines future outcomes for our mother earth.  Parents may feel that there is no “money” in art.  That may be true, however, art is neither about money nor recognition.  Art is about the ability to craft a unique vision and sharing it with the people we love.  You can make a living with art or you can express yourself in any work setting to your advantage.  A musician, for example, may be working for the Health Department and offer to compose a song to raise money for the mentally ill.  We are all artists designing our future one day at a time.  Let’s instill a sense of artistic wonder in our future artisans when they are young and naturally artistic.

Parallels to Counseling Techniques

I studied Clinical Psychology for a period of time where we learned various counseling techniques.  The idea of “tightening” and “loosening” became etched in my mind and it seems to apply to music composition as well.  This particular counseling technique implies that you allow your client to expand or contract their construct system as therapy unfolds.  As composers, we often expand or contract a musical idea as the music composition unfolds and when we review the score after a period of rest.  Often musical ideas are malleable and are able to be thinned or developed.  Just as sentences are uniquely constructed to express an idea, likewise are musical phrases, but there seems to be many ways to “express” the idea that can be understood by all.

Composers and The Internet

I have often wondered whether my music would be different in its style and texture if I had lived in a thriving musical community that currently exists in NYC, Vienna or San Francisco.   We live in a computer world now where communication is quickly and effectively sent by digital transmissions via satellites.  With music software improving every year, it is easy to send quality-looking scores by e-mail attachments.  Music dictionaries are readily available on-line, likewise orchestra music manuals!  Given all of the above, you can live anywhere and produce music of high quality within the confines of your home music studio.  It does seem to me, however, that a composer needs to have a cadre of available musicians to “bounce” his musical ideas off of.  There is no replacement for a live musician who knows his craft well to execute your musical ideas so that you can hear in real time whether or not what you intended is what will be conveyed.  Thankfully, competent musicians live everywhere now and this should not be an issue for most composers.

Everything is New

Popular forms of art music like “New Age” or “Minimalism” rely heavily on repetition as part of their musical aesthetics.  Rock music, in turn, has borrowed heavily from these art forms and also uses repetition copiously.  Repetition in music is certainly nothing new and when used effectively can be pleasing to the ear.  I have been of the opinion, however, that music in its most exalted state should be fresh and new, resembling the moment, which is always unique.  There are no two identical moments in observable nature.  This does not mean that repetition cannot be used judiciously.   The inner ear does need to hear something familiar as it is changing.  This makes music making a challenge to say the least and above all most satisfying.

Persistent Patterns

Persistence is that quality of mind which we need to accomplish most goals.  A musical work cannot be completed unless a composer spends time each day sculpturing its foundation and erecting its structure.  It’s through the use of patterns that we recognize a work of art.  Edward Gorey used a patterned cloth to design his figbash and salamander dolls.  Our senses recognize these patterns and artists use them to define their work’s distinguishing characteristic.  Each artwork differs greatly from each other (the figbash and salamander dolls do not share the same distinguishing shape) because their patterns differ.  The distinguishing characteristic, its patterned style, is what makes each artwork and is what distinguishes one artist from another.

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