Yep, sad to say, Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book claiming that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice can make anyone an expert, was all wet.
What makes me think of this was putting up those pieces by Steve Reich. He is what you call a talent, a massively talented talent. Give the man two pieces of wood and a pulse and he will make a piece of music you can listen to:
You see, that's talent. But not all composers are talented. In fact, a remarkable number of them just ape the incidentals of good music, like the pulse or the percussion or whatever, but from these materials, they create, well, nothing much:
This is going to sound crazy, but I suspect that the majority of composers writing today are actually lacking in talent. What happens is that they really like music, so they attend a conservatory or university and study composition. They become both skilled and credentialed through hard work (there's those 10,000 hours) but, truth to tell, they don't really have a creative bone in their bodies. Luckily for them, neither do most of the people handing out degrees, awards and honors. Most unfortunately, these days few critics are willing to do their job and point out when someone is massively untalented. Instead, they get given Pulitzer Prizes for, again, pretty much a waste of musical time. Blogger is messing around again, so you have to follow the link:
I wish it were an easy matter to explain why that is empty noodling and this is not:
But that is very, very difficult. To a musician, it is like the difference between chalk and cheese, but hard to explain in words. I could point to, for example, how the entry of the second performer in the first clip above puts us in an interesting, syncopated rhythmic universe that causes an immediate physical response, while the entry of the other performers in the second clip just confirms the deadly dull and dreary nature of that piece. I could point out that droning on with the same notes for a very long time has already been done much better than in the third clip--in Das Rheingold for example, and tacking on some environmental boiler plate doesn't make it more interesting.
But these are suggestive rather than conclusive. The truths about music are so hard to put into words. Actually, that's why we write music!