Diane Montagna has an interview up with sacred music composer, Peter Kwasniewski. They talk about what it’s like to be a composer, where he gets his inspiration and what a composer must keep in mind in this era:
Isn’t there a danger, though, with modern music—that it can alienate listeners? Maybe by being too dissonant? Yes, for sure, we have struggled with that problem, although the atonal revolution of the 20th century has mostly died out by now, and the “new tonality” has taken its place. Any church composer worth his salt understands that one has to have a certain “conservatism” when writing sacred music. Whatever is “modern” in the piece should not overshadow the whole character of it so that it seems only modern and cut off from the past. The past offers us perennially vibrant models. If you look at the great composers and sculptors and architects of the past, they did the same thing. None of them ever tried to start from scratch. They were always building off of the models that came before. That’s part of the humility of a great artist. It’s standing on the shoulders of giants. If you’re a composer, you try to learn from the great composers; you don’t ignore them and think you can do better than they have done.
Of course, the question is referring to sacred music, but since the DC staff has felt alienated before with non-dissonant church music, we’ve got a fun poll for you. Here are 2 examples of music that you may hear in church and we would love to know which one you would prefer.
This is a piece from Kwasniewski; it follows the modes of the mass and is very reminiscent of Palestrina or other traditional sacred composers:
This is a hymn that you may have heard in church, by Cary Landry:
What do you think?