Ah, Thanksgiving: a holiday as rich in calories as it is in cultural significance. What’s the proper soundtrack for a day that means so many different things? Why not canvas the work of Chicago composers for music that’s as complex as Turkey Day?
After today, I would never know if a student went on to accomplish something, continue his education, or even be released from prison. I realized as I distributed the scores that I had included my full name as the composer; I was supposed to protect my own privacy.
In open data sets, Suby Raman found a lot of really interesting stories to tell about the performing arts. Because he’s a composer, he knew what to look for in the data and what would matter to people. Because he’s a programmer, he knew how to handle the big data set itself.
If I write music that both satisfies and excites me, and is music that I want to hear, and I’m being honest about all of that, then I’m good. Anything beyond that is a lucky perk, and anything less than that can be worked on until it’s up to snuff in my musical worldview.
Composer, improviser, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn came up playing country and western music, but her ear eventually led her down a decidedly more singular experimental path. “You’ve got be naked in your mind to be able to play and express yourself—you have to be naked and fearless and that’s not easy, especially the older you get.”
We tried to describe what different instruments looked like and we realized that what we needed was a live concert. There was great concern among the prison administration that the violin was a dangerous instrument. The strings could be turned into a weapon. Emails and phone calls went back and forth for months.
Listening to and trying to understand as much music as possible, even music that you don’t enjoy, is an incredibly important part of becoming a better and better musician. Knowing, experiencing, and learning from more than I knew, experienced, and learned from yesterday is a worthwhile goal.
Haitian rhythms were perhaps of equal importance in early jazz developments as Latin ones. And now there is a growing cadre of jazz musicians of Haitian descent, as well as other Caribbean arrivals or first gens, who openly embrace elements of their rich musical heritages.
It was shockingly easy to forget, in the midst of the classroom environment, that the majority of the students were serving life sentences for committing horrendous acts. I reminded myself that my goal was to share the joys and mysteries of music making, to try to understand their need for creative expression, and in turn, gain insight into my own personal and artistic motivations.
Today marks the 200th birthday of Adolphe Sax! Here at NMBx, we took the occasion to go digging through the archives in order to revisit some of the wise words and remarkable talent that players of this instrument have brought to our site.
Who is to say that my interpretation is best, or that a best interpretation even exists? And why should we limit ourselves, as composers, performers, or listeners, to just one option? We’re the creative ones, right?
In making the award announcement, Musical America referred to Adams as perhaps “the world’s only Green composer.”
Imagine a class where every student feels it is a privilege to learn, yearns to participate and be heard, and absorbs all of the material with passionate curiosity. Within the nightmare of incarceration flourished the dream of education, an unabashed, provocative insight into musical meaning and expression.
Electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel sees a lot of common ground between the seemingly oppositional aesthetics of folk traditions and the digital realm. But whether she’s creating a computer-realized algorithmic composition, crafting a short piano piece or orchestral score, or jamming on a guitar or a banjo, the most important element in all of her music making is emotional engagement.
Some NMBx thoughts on Halloween: costume ideas with Matthew and critic-at-large Moe.
Learning Hindi in its written and sung forms simultaneously has been revealing in so many ways. Little idiosyncracies I would have otherwise missed in the language are illuminated through song.
Steve was tremendously disciplined. He composed every day, whether he wanted to or not. He completed everything he started. You could count on him for advice. He gave me the best financial advice of my professional life when he said “Just envision the amount of money you will need next year, believe it, and it will be there.” He was right.
The American Composers Forum (ACF) has announced that twelve new music projects have been awarded grants through the Jerome Fund for New Music (JFund).
We mostly listen to recorded music, and we likely hear it alone—in a car, through headphones, maybe through a set of speakers at home. This kind of listening space is simultaneously ephemeral—in that it is fundamentally malleable—and monumental—in that its infinite repeatability aspires to cultural permanence.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of Nicolas Collins’s Pea Soup, a piece that uses electronics to “play” the signature acoustics of a space. In honor of that milestone, Collins today unveils Pea Soup To Go, a free virtual jukebox programed with recordings of 70 different versions of the work.
The unlikely collisions between the two musical cultures I inhabit bring up so many questions for me about musical perception: What do people from one musical culture hear in the music of another culture? How much of our aesthetic association with specific music comes from repetition and reinforcement within our musical culture, and how much is simply hard-wired into us as humans?
Institutionalized jazz is safe, museum-piece jazz, but the music still happens in basements and lofts and living room performance spaces. These are the alternative venues and institutions for a music that, by definition, is outsider music, counter-culture music.
It was Open House Chicago this weekend. Open House is, apparently, a worldwide celebratory architectural free-for-all phenomenon that started in London. But I’ve only ever experienced it in Chicago. Here, it usually falls in late October, when each rainstorm is a tender rite of passage that strips the city of a bit more color.
Twelve orchestras and composers have been selected to receive Music Alive: New Partnerships grants of $7,500 each, the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA announced today.