I don’t know that I have a musical style, but I think that one of my compositional strengths – for those who consider it a strength rather than a limitation – is that I draw out the idea of each piece, each movement, very clearly. That is, given recordings of the first five measures of most of my pieces, plus a random measure from later in one of those pieces, I think even a child could match the random measure with the correct opening. The first conductor of my Transcendental Sonnets expressed amazement at how clearly the five songs were differentiated from each other, no two having the same approach to harmony. Many composers are language-based; by many, I mean almost everyone from Bach to Schoenberg and beyond, and by language-based, I mean that they have a continuing musical language evident in piece after piece, in which their ideas are expressed. But I’m more image-based, meaning that for each piece I choose a handful of elements, some of which appear nowhere else in my music. I’ve got pieces entirely in 2/4 or 4/4, some with constantly changing meters, and some with 2 or 4 or 7 tempos always going at once, so characterizing “my rhythmic language” is a fool’s errand. (On the other hand, I think I have a certain melodic style that no one has ever drawn attention to, and I am a little overly addicted to encompassing my music between high, sustained flute tones and a pizzicato bass line.) One of the main questions I’m always asking my composition students is, “What is the idea of this piece?” It’s one they are often reluctant to answer, sometimes even seem to resent, and perhaps it’s not as universally applicable a query as I try to make it. But, for instance, one could ask Beethoven for the idea of the Appassionata sonata, and I would imagine the answer having something to do with going from the tonic precipitously to the Neapolitan chord and working one’s way back. That answer would not explain as much about the piece, though, as my answers about my own pieces tend to do, because Beethoven was implementing that idea within a common classical language.