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Interviews
Frank J. Oteri

Christopher Cerrone: Everything Comes From Language

While composer Christopher Cerrone has not written any original prose fiction or poetry, he approaches his own musical compositions in much the same way that a writer weaves a narrative. Whether it’s the site-specific multimedia adaptation of Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities (which was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music), a Tao Lin-texted song cycle, E.E. Cummings, or a Philip Larkin-inspired concerto grosso for string orchestra, literature is the primary inspiration behind almost every piece of his music.

Articles
Joseph Branciforte

From the Machine: Conversations with Dan Tepfer, Kenneth Kirschner, Florent Ghys, and Jeff Snyder

They discuss their unique approaches to the compositional and performance possibilities offered by computers to generate, manipulate, process, and display musical data for acoustic ensembles. It’s potentially one of the most promising vistas for musical discovery in the coming years.

How-Tos
Dafna Naphtali

Resonating Filters: How to Listen and Be Heard

To finish out this month of posts about live sound processing, I will talk about a few more effects, and some strategies for using them. I hope this information will be useful to live sound processors, as well as instrumentalists processing their own sound (particularly in real time) and composers who are considering writing for live processing, or creating improvisational setting for live electroacoustics.

Articles
Lisa Bielawa

Vireo, My Tenacious Muse

“Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser” was more than two decades in the making. Here composer Lisa Bielawa recounts the evolution of this ambitious work from idea to visionary production.

Articles
Joseph Branciforte

From the Machine: Realtime Algorithmic Approaches to Harmony, Orchestration, and More

This week, Joseph Branciforte shares some algorithmic techniques that he’s been developing in an attempt to grapple with some of the compositional possibilities offered by realtime notation. However, he also stresses that there are inevitably situations where theoretical purity must give way to expediency if one wishes to remain a composer rather than a full-time software developer.

Articles
Dafna Naphtali

Delays, Feedback, and Filters: A Trifecta

Interaural time difference, interaural level difference, and head shadow are useful not only for an audio engineer, but are also important for us when considering the effects and uses of delay in electroacoustic musical contexts.

Articles
Elliot Cole

Questions I Ask Myself

At the last New Music Gathering, Elliot Cole shared a list of questions that he’s been wrestling with—questions about culture and career choices, about what his music can offer others as well as how it shapes his own life. They are tough questions, but he also found them helpful and clarifying. Others agreed and asked him to share them more widely, which he has generously done here.

Articles
Joseph Branciforte

From the Machine: Realtime Networked Notation

The possibility of instantiating realtime compositional intelligence in machines holds the most radically transformative promise for a paradigmatic shift in music in the years ahead.

Articles
Dafna Naphtali

Delays as Music

The use of delays in music is ubiquitous. We use delays to locate a sound’s origin, create a sense of size/space, to mark musical time, create rhythm, and delineate form.

Articles
Sirius Quartet

Progressive Chamber Music

The aesthetic of the Sirius Quartet and our Progressive Chamber Music Festival is an expression of the ongoing blending resulting from the gradual breakdown of the barriers between contemporary academic music and popular and folk music traditions. We don’t rule anything out in the music we write: tonality, atonality, groove, form, etc., and we like to incorporate improvisation in various ways to achieve various goals in our music.

Articles
Joseph Branciforte

From the Machine: Computer Algorithms and Acoustic Music

Western music has made use of rule-based compositional techniques for centuries, but with the advent of realtime computing and modern networking technologies, new possibilities can be imagined. A composer’s live data input can work in concert with conditional, aleatoric, probabilistic, and pre-composed materials to produce what might be called a “realtime composition” or a­n “interactive score” for acoustic musicians in live performance.

Articles
Dafna Naphtali

Live Sound Processing and Improvisation

Over the past 5-7 years there has been an enormous surge in interest among musicians, outside of computer music academia, in discovering how to enhance their work with electronics and, in particular, how to use electronics and live sound processing as a performable “real” instrument.

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

Stefania de Kenessey: 20 Years After Rewriting History

In 1997, composer Stefania de Kenessey launched the Derriere Guard movement to promote a “return to long-forgotten, long-abandoned ideas rooted in history and tradition” but now, 20 years later, she believes that the current range of accepted aesthetics has rendered the Derriere Guard no longer necessary.

Articles
Hannah Schiller

Building Audiences for Post-Genre Artists

Not only does genre-based language mislead listeners about post-genre music, but it also affects how the music itself is monetized and thus how artists make their living and find their audiences. Hannah Schiller concludes her three-part series with a discussion of roadblocks and possible paths forward.

Articles
Hannah Schiller

The Role of Listeners in a Post-Genre Context

If a composer has no intent of writing within the “classical” genre label, then attempting to understand the piece through a classical lens is irrelevant. But what about the listener? There is no doubt that all listeners have pre-existing connotations surrounding certain types of sounds.

Articles
Eugene Holley, Jr.

Notes from the Custerdome: A Jazz Appreciation of Steely Dan

Steely Dan proved that pop music could be harmonically complex and quirky in the early to mid-’70s, when the then-new FM format allowed for longer cuts, and more expansive playlists, genre-wise. But the source of their signature sound was their incorporation of the jazz aesthetic in every aspect of their already broad musical conception.

Articles
Hannah Schiller

Thinking About Language in a Post-Genre Context

Hannah Schiller’s research into polystylism in today’s new music led her to question the utility of a genre-based framework entirely. But when those terms are absent, how do we create cohesive language that can be realistically used to discuss and promote music?

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

Remembering Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017): A Citizen of the "Fourth World"

According to Tommy McCutchon, “‘Fourth World Music’ has become a dominant sub-genre designation for any music that combines avant-garde electronic processing with a mélange of world music aesthetics.” But Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) was a citizen of the Fourth World throughout a three-quarter century career as a composer, teacher, and musical thinker.

Articles
Joey Baron

Harmonies That Welcomed Imagination—Remembering John Abercrombie (1944-2017)

John Abercrombie set the template for me as far as how to play music with an open mind. The special thing that stands out about John is his natural democratic manner as a player and writer. He could not help it—it’s just the way he was.

Articles
Shi-An Costello (世 安)

Orientalism in American Classical Music

The perpetuation of Orientalism is alive and well in U.S. classical music circles, and it needs to stop. The more conscious we are of our words and actions, the more likely we are to replace them with more humanizing gestures, in hopes of a kinder, more tolerant world.

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

George Walker: Concise and Precise

If there’s any quality that distinguishes all of the music of George Walker, who at the age of 95 is still actively composing, it’s its conciseness and preciseness. Walker often creates visceral music, but his compositions are also filled with moments of tenderness and beauty even though, for Walker, beauty might be a by-product but it is never an explicit goal.

Articles
Stephen K. Steele

Suspending Time and Figuring Out the Impossible—Remembering David Maslanka (1943-2017)

My first exposure to David Maslanka’s music was a monumental, life changing experience for me as a young college wind band conductor. His music speaks, regardless of the technical proficiency of the individuals or the collective ensemble, and it communicates at a deeply intense and personal level. I grew very close to his music and this quiet, generous man became my dear friend.

Articles
Will Robin

New Horizons, Old Barriers

Funded by the organization Meet The Composer, the New York Philharmonic’s Horizons festivals represented a major shift in how new music was supported in the 1980s, as composers newly embraced the orchestra, turned away from academia, and entered the classical music marketplace. But declining to properly represent the diversity of the American musical landscape was one of its failures.

Articles
Elaine Walker

Composing Xenharmonic Music

You can throw most of the harmony lessons you’ve ever had right out the window when composing xenharmonic music. Dissonance is just as important as consonance. Any tuning can just as easily sound ugly or exotic or beautiful. In musician speak, if it’s close enough for rock’n’roll, it will sound in tune!

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NewMusicBox receives major support from the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts and The ASCAP Foundation.

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NewMusicBox is funded in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and with support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and The Amphion Foundation, Inc. Support for New Music USA and its many programs and activities is provided by foundations, corporations, government agencies, and hundreds of individual contributors.

NewMusicBox receives major support from the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts and The ASCAP Foundation. NewMusicBox is funded in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and with support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and The Amphion Foundation, Inc. Support for New Music USA and its many programs and activities is provided by foundations, corporations, government agencies, and hundreds of individual contributors.