Musical Variation Is Like a Good Set of Kitchen Knives

Variation in music is like having a good set of kitchen knives.

  • If you use them properly, cooking becomes easy and fun . . .
  • If you use them carelessly, somebody loses a finger . . .

Likewise, in composing music, variation is NOT inherently valuable.

How you use it makes the difference between

  • Giving your audience goosebumps . . .
  • Or making them fidget, cough, and check their watch . . .

Less deadly to be sure, but still deeply disappointing.

To use another cooking metaphor, wantonly adding variation to your music is like using too much salt — it makes your audience want to spit it out.

In short, musical variation is essential, but it is NOT inherently valuable.

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