Music is, in short, organized sound. The various methods used to organize sound produce predictable associations and connotations (the seeds of which are largely culturally drawn) in the mind of the listener. I believe that as a composer I must, at the very least, be mindful of these tendencies and attempt to predict the musical, cultural background of my intended audience(s). I can then utilize my knowledge of music theory, acoustics, appropriate/engaging pacing, and musical culture and legacy, combined with the aforementioned predictions, to play into and/or subvert the audience’s expectations and to draw out emotional reactions.
Depending on context, music also has different secondary functions. In games, music can accentuate and adapt to the actions of the player, be semi-interactive, and sometimes assist in evoking a state of flow in the player. In film (and games), music can respond to what’s onscreen and imply subtext otherwise unseen. In concert music, the music acts more on its own, but visuals still have a role in terms of the performers’ physical behavior. In any music intended to be performed by humans (and even to a much lesser extent computers), I also need to consider the ability of the players to execute the musical instructions I am writing. A virtuosic performance of an especially difficult passage also tends to add its own excitement that is generally less present in “easier” and unperformed pieces of music.
Music is here to enrich our experiences and our lives. As a composer, I must always keep this and all of its contributing factors, functions, and effects in mind.