Gender Issues in CONTRAST

While speaking of contrast, I was told that I could think about contrast in terms of ‘female’ as opposed to ‘male’. I felt odd, because I think that gender is fluid, there is no absolute contrast in gender. There are men that are more female than I am.

Photo by Saeid Anvar on

People differ more in terms of character than in terms of gender.

In addition to that: I find myself in a mens’ world, playing tuba, learning how to conduct and composing. But we all see that world is changing: a lot of female musicians, conductors and composers will conquer the musical world soon. I am part of that changing world, I change the musical world by contributing as a female composer. I think that the ‘male’ aspect of music will change the coming period.

Thinking that contrast in music is about ‘male’ contra ‘female’ will sound outdated soon.

Since I started thinking about contrast as ‘waves’ and not ‘walls’, I thought, in between the peaks and hollows there must be grey’s, but not just grey, but a play-full shading in-between of those extreme contrasts. Or maybe, even extreme contrasts don’t exist? When there is white light, all the colors are there, we just don’t see them separately. We see all of them at the same time together. It’s not, that the colors are not there because we don’t see them. It’s not that the colors themselves disappears when we shade it with a little black. The colors mix and can turn out to be white or absorbed to be black or any other color. Use a prisma.

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It’s easy to draw a parallel between colors and instrument groups: When one color sounds, it’s a recognizable quality. When sounds mix and diffuse, the sound-color changes the way blue and yellow make green. When a tutti sounds, all the colors are mixed: a white. When there is a silence, it’s a black, all the sound is absorbed.

The tutti of every orchestra sounds different, there is no definite white of black in music. A tutti of a symphonic orchestra sounds different from a wind orchestra. It’s both loud, hardly any individual instruments are recognizable, but we still know what orchestra it is.

Lot’s of painters have looked at shades of whites and blacks, and I think so should composers. When does a climax sound best? Is it pure white or off-white? The daylight in Iceland is different from that in California, but we both experience them as ‘white’. The light from the sun reaching the earth is nowhere the same.

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Thoughtful music doesn’t have extreme, black-white contrasts.

The contrast between light and dark is only an absolute contrast in our minds, because we think about it as a contrasting concept. In real life, there is no absolute contrast. Black and white don’t exist in their absolute forms.

There is no contrast between genders, there is only shades of characters.

When music is about emotion, why would extreme contrast be important? Isn’t there always a little sadness in the happy moments? Thoughts about the sacrifices you had to make to get there? About the people we can’t share this happy moment with any-more?

Waves work better than walls, because they are more representative of our own emotional inner world

Back to thinking about contrast as contrasting genders, isn’t that strange? As if there was a battle going on between two opposite sexes? Shouldn’t we think of music as gender-neutral? As playful, colorful mixes of and shades of colors?

Talking about this subject, some-one pointed out, that transgender community doesn’t have it’s own ‘tune’. There is no transgender, gender-neutral anthem. Maybe it is time we wrote one?

By Anneloes Wolters