There is a wide disparity between the number of female composers and the number of male composers, and so part of the message of #ComposeLikeAGirl is as a positive, empowering message to young female composers to see composing as a viable option. The other half of the coin, though, is that these female-composed works have to be performed to enable these composers to succeed. And so the other part of this message is to bring awareness to conductors, to allow them to actively think about gender inequality as they program – not so that they ignore male-written music but so that they intentionally include others. The argument I hear most often is that we should be gender blind as we program, that the music should simply be good, honest, personal, etc., and that should be enough. But if we’re not intentional about inclusivity, nothing will change. You can’t ignore diversity, you have to value it.
This problem is even worse at the symphonic level, where getting music to the stage is even more competitive for a composer. In 2018, when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced their season, of the 54 composers programmed, not one was a woman. The same was true for the Philadelphia Orchestra (which has since been changed – intentional diversity). (NPR)
And even if we zoom out to the concert world as a whole, the problem is still there. New statistics from the Women in Music Project have shown that “only 76 classical concerts among 1,445 performed across the world from 2018 to 2019 include at least one piece by a woman. The figure amounts to about 95% of concerts having music only composed by men.” (Guardian)
To encourage women to compose, to encourage conductors to intentionally diversify their programming, and raise awareness that gender inequality is an issue in the arts, those are the goals of the #ComposeLikeAGirl campaign. Graphite Publishing publishes the works of 20 composers. Of those, 6 are women. We too have work to do in striving toward gender equality. And while we won’t diminish the quality of catalog to do so, it is an active commitment we have made to ourselves, to composers and to the arts industry.
1: (Easy) No divisi in voice parts, accompaniment doubles or supports vocal parts, diatonic, symmetrical phrases, textures mostly homophonic, simple rhythms, stepwise voice leading (conjunct), moderate ranges, no extended techniques, and limited sustained singing.
2: (Medium Easy) Limited divisi, voices somewhat independent from accompaniment, some chromatics, phrases may be longer or more fragmented, mostly homophonic, moderate rhythmic complexity, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderate ranges, extended techniques are simple, limited sustained singing.
3. (Medium) Limited divisi, unaccompanied, or with independent accompaniment (voice parts not doubled), many chromatics, phrases of varying lengths, more contrapuntal textures, moderately complex rhythms, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderately difficult/challenging ranges, extended techniques are potentially challenging, and some sustained singing.
4. (Medium Difficult) Abundant divisi, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, many difficult intervals (disjunct motion), difficult/challenging ranges, potentially difficult extended techniques, and a demand for sustained singing.
5. (Difficult) Adundant divis, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, extreme ranges, use of challenging or unusual extended vocal techniques, abundant sustained singing.