Thinking about Composition
The practice of composition is common to most creative and scholarly undertakings. Composition is where artistic or intellectual inspiration runs up against the everyday struggle of making. It comes from the Latin for "putting things together” — com-ponere. It involves questions of unity and linkage, of transition, of beginning, of ending. Many artists struggle (some famously) with the practice. Others delight in it. Some make it a theme of their own work.
In the second of a series of conversations, we focus on the "how" of composition by bringing together a group of master practitioners working across a wide range of forms and media: acclaimed jazz flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell, who directs Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh; cultural historian Josh Kun, who holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from Berkeley and is director of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication; and poet and scholar Chiyuma Elliott, a faculty member in Berkeley’s African American Studies department and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. In a conversation moderated by Berkeley professor and jazz pianist Myra Melford, panelists share their ideas about what it means to compose.