I'm interested in understanding what makes a particular composer sound like themselves. I'm asking for references to text books or videos that will dig into this.

Here are some examples of the kind of thing I hope to understand. Note, these are not separate, additional questions. They are just an attempt to explain what I'm looking for in the instructional materials that I'm hoping someone can recommend:

I'd like to know why some late Mozart symphonies remind me of Beethoven.

I'd like to know why I can immediately identify a hymn as coming from the shape note tradition.

I'd like to know what Peter Schickele knew so he could imitate so many composers.

Finally, I'm really looking forward to pursuing Uncle Bob's answer. I hope I can thank him when/if this question gets the hold taken off.

  • It's a rapidly advancing field engadget.com/2017/05/04/… [TBH I am not currently able to find the most dramatic examples ] – Rusi Apr 1 '19 at 6:55
  • You could transform your question getting 4 different questions. In my opinion they can be answered. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 1 '19 at 14:46
  • Nahre Sol has videos about how to sound like specific composers; e.g. here's the one about Rachmaninov: youtube.com/watch?v=imGbhF2AEPw – Your Uncle Bob Apr 2 '19 at 2:39

All composers are going to have their own specific style. They will all favour certain sounds, progressions, instrumentation and melodies. Many composers throughout time have had to write thousands of small pieces, and as such you would expect them to either consciously or unconsciously re-use some material. I was recently at a concert specifically featuring Vivaldi, and some of his lesser known works were performed. Within these works, I could pick out specific melodies and themes featured in some of his great compositions (The Four Seasons, Violin concertos etc.)

The way people replicate these sounds is by trying to imitate their "style". This style is influenced by the instruments and technologies available to them at their time, and what part of the world they are/were from.

As for Beethoven and Mozart, Beethoven is rumoured to have had a few lessons from Mozart and they met each other multiple times. This exposure to a style of music would have rubbed off on Beethoven for sure.

As for orchestration, specific sounds produced by specific instruments and styles of playing always contribute to the sound of a composer (along with the actual instruments used).

  • Wait, I thought the story was that Beethoven took lessons from Haydn (on recommendations that Haydn was the best passer of Mozart's style) for a few months. – Dekkadeci Apr 1 '19 at 7:59
  • In honor of the day, I will claim that Beethoven took lessons from PDQ Bach.... and then did the exact opposite of everything he was told. – Carl Witthoft Apr 1 '19 at 14:07
  • Individual style will be a correct answer, but we should tell the features of the individual styles. One point will be - as Ben Marshall says - the development of new instruments. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 1 '19 at 14:51

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