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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Karin Rehnqvist was never afraid of being labeled a composer for amateurs (nor was she afraid of being labeled a feminist), and after numerous commissions from professional ensembles and international performances, she didn’t have to prove herself. The amateur path she started on actually showed itself to be an ideal schooling in outreach and entrepreneurship.
Even if you are an acoustic musician, I suggest expanding your xenharmonic universe into the digital world because there will be more choices of tunings and sounds. And vice versa.
How do you get an opera company to produce an opera that’s not really an opera? You don’t—you do it yourself. But it takes a network of support. Ryan Ebright explores the personal connections and professional collaborators that allowed Steve Reich and Beryl Korot to self-produce their first video opera The Cave.
As a composer, what drew me to use scales that have more, or less, notes per octave than our standard twelve-tone tuning–or xenharmonic music–was the boredom that crept up on me over the years of using the same twelve notes over and over, plus a curiosity about other possible tunings and what emotional chords they might strike.
As I got older and began to compose, I began to understand why all of my local music teachers talked so much about Charles Ives. It wasn’t what I suspected growing up, that he was a middling-famous composer who happened to have been born in our town. No, they kept talking about Ives because he really is that important.
Using a different number of notes per octave, it is possible to write new music with new harmonic relationships that humankind has never heard before.
Despite his fascination with extremely dense structures, California-based composer Chris Brown is surprisingly tolerant about loosely interpreting them. Chalk it up to a musical career that has been equally devoted to composing and improvising.
As a young and very green teacher of both classroom and private students, I have no illusions about making mistakes in my teaching. Teachers face challenges in managing many different personalities in a classroom, particularly in equating vocality with interest or aptitude.
We must build greater gender and racial diversity into curriculums and concert programs so that students may see themselves in history.
In the 1980s, OPERA America members became concerned with the dearth of new American operas and the stagnation of standard European repertoire. In response to this perceived crisis, they decided to take action. But the need for financial support was only part of the problem.
The vast number of people in this world that the great Geri Allen has influenced is undeniable. She has been an outstanding musician, mother, educator, mentor, and role model to many—including myself.
In October of last year, Ashley Fure became a mentor to me without her knowing it. Beyond the striking impression of the music, I was moved by Fure’s comments about it.
Why is it important to include women in curriculums or histories? Why is it important that women’s contributions are visible? If they’re not, we run the risk of their absence being accepted as some kind of unquestionable natural state. We need to actively resist this by ensuring women and their music are present in our classrooms and concert halls.
Anyone who knew her would agree that multifaceted composer, musicologist, teacher, Schoenberg disciple and punk rock singer Dika Newlin (1923-2006) was one of the most brilliant, eccentric people they ever encountered. Her extant works certainly deserve to be rediscovered. But for her multimedia pieces, it is almost certainly too late.
In the wake of questions surrounding SoundCloud’s future, it may seem important to quickly figure out “What service do I use now?!?” But Gahlord Dewald suggests that we might first take this opportunity to clarify our goals when we share our music online, and then let those answers lead us to the best tools. He’s found several to get you started. What would you add to the list?
Having someone as a mentor figure who was outside of music–Vickie Sullivan, a popular professor at Tufts University particularly well known in the political science and classics departments–was really grounding: it reminded me that my art and the skills I need to make it didn’t exist in a vacuum.
Tara Rodgers chats with Anne Lanzilotti about electronic music, gear, gender, and the ways in which music is a starting point for exploring questions of belonging and nonbelonging, of identity and difference.
Today is a net neutrality day of action! New Music USA is certainly interested in preserving a free and open internet and has filed a comment with the FCC to this effect. Eddy Ficklin outlines what’s at stake–especially for creative artists–and shows you how to submit a comment of your own.