Music, like all art, is a way of expressing our deepest yearnings - a way of remembering what it means to be human.
As a composer I try to allow the most vulnerable parts of me to come out onto the page.
If it doesn't scare me to write it, I question whether I'm being honest.
That, in my view, is what distinguishes genuine from derivative art, regardless of the style or language - regardless of, say, whether it is tonal or not.
The opening of Cascade.
Because every person is, ultimately, unique. So if you're really telling the truth in the score, it can't be derivative.
That's not to say it won't have been influenced by others. Of course it will: there's a community of expression that it lives in.
A fragment from Speak, Child.