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Candy Floss and Merry-Go-Rounds: Female Composers, Gendered Language, and Emotion

When I was first starting out as a composer, a composition teacher offered me some bracing words of caution: “Sarah, you’ll have a difficult path. Your music is direct, lyrical, expressive. When a man writes like that, it’s brave and admirable; it’s going against type. But when a woman writes like that, it can be seen as sentimental and indulgent. Stay strong; don’t let it deter you.” At the time, I didn’t believe him. It was the late 1990s, after all—third-wave feminism, the riot grrrl movement, and queer theory were informing much of the broader arts and cultural conversation. Sure, classical music could be a bit slow to evolve, but times had long since changed there, too—right?

Read this great article by composer Sarah Kirkland Snider in full here.