Before heading off on vacation, I had to share some of Dominick Argento’s comments about compositional aesthetics that I heard during the University of Maryland’s ten-day Argento Festival.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but to teach only the composers discussed in someone else’s textbook, chosen by someone else’s narrative, would surely be an impoverished and lazy approach to pedagogy.
As interesting as the previous discussions have been, they only scratch the surface of what can be done to gain a better self-knowledge of who we are as a music community and ultimately expand our audiences and their appreciation of our work.
One of the speakers at Barbara Lea’s memorial said, “Music without lyrics isn’t really alive.” Although I don’t agree with the statement, I do agree with his assessment that the way a melody is delivered to our culture is with the words that are ascribed to it.
Hearing this much music in a relatively short span of time reminds me that the music I find to be the most satisfying possesses an effortless quality that I’ve never been able to completely pin down. It’s as if the music spontaneously erupted into being without any difficulty whatsoever.
Don Byron, Rinde Eckert, Bill Frisell, John Hollenbeck, Vijay Iyer, Nicole Mitchell, and Meredith Monk are among the 21 American performing artists working in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre, and multidisciplinary work who have been named as part of the first class of Doris Duke Artists, a new initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The musical life of composer David Froom is steeped in a sense of community. As a self-described extrovert who derives energy and inspiration from the company of other composers and musicians, he has developed a strong circle of performers and music-making opportunities in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area as well as in his St. Mary’s City, Maryland home.
The thing with canons, there’s always a catch.
The problem of stock compositional “moves” weighs on my mind: What are the consequences of returning to a much-drawn-from personal well of musical ideas (at any level, from concrete material or sounds to formal or experiential shapes)?
The six pieces showcased below were all performed at the kick-off event for the MTC Studio, held at 92YTribeca on October 15, 2010. Now New Music USA is going back into MTC’s archive and bringing these performances out for the world to see.
I’ve become intrigued by this divide between the will of the performer towards beautiful tone and of the composer towards expressive variety. Certainly these two goals can coexist and even can enhance each other in order to create music that approaches the sublime; however, at times they appear incompatible.
Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts by Kevin Puts has been awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
If we were miraculously transported back to April 1912, we would have a very different view of the previous century than we do now. Imagine it. Just barely twelve years into the 20th century, Elliott Carter and Olivier Messiaen would have been three years old; John Cage would not yet have been born.
Over the past two weeks I’ve been going over lists of composers and their repertoire to see if I could find some common threads that stood out as being both important and new in some way. I would like to take you through my process and show you why I nominated the three works that I did.
You can’t practice improvising; you’re either improvising or you’re not, right? Reexamining my own practice habits, I realize that I spend a lot of time practicing improvising.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced its 2012 fellows in the United States and Canada. A total of 181 Fellowships have been awarded to scholars, artists, and scientists—among them ten composers—chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.
Music is all about playing with our expectations—as listeners, participants, and creators. One of the most striking things to be gleaned from studying the great melodies in music is how many of them employ the same rhythmic profile for each measure, with one or perhaps two affecting variations.
SoundCloud.com has quickly become the default go-to site for music hosting by all manner of musicians. The following overview is intended to provide an introduction to making use of SoundCloud, including some tips for maximizing one’s efforts, as well as some passing contextual and tactical thoughts on why SoundCloud has proved as popular and functional as it has.
Austin is still a relatively small city, but the ease with which one can find a last-minute replacement for that “contrabassoonist who also owns his own unicycle” part is impressive, and it’s this high concentration of strong, adventurous players coupled with a titanic work ethic that has allowed ANMC to flourish in the last ten years.
Having written many semesters’ worth of unwarrantedly difficult music, I’ve lived many times over the student composer’s plight when it comes to locking down players in the absence of a carrot or a stick. But this time—a matter of weeks away from my Ph.D. defense—something in me put its earnest little foot down: I am never doing this again.
Imaginary Islands, the latest entry in Bridge Records’ rather extensive Lansky discography, is composed expressly for and performed entirely by a symphony orchestra with no electronic elements whatsoever. Throughout his life, Lansky actually had composed for corporeal performers on acoustic instruments, or—as he jokingly describes them in his notes for the present CD—“carbon based life forms,” even though his reputation as a composer was established almost exclusively on the basis of his electronic music. Nevertheless, the three compositions collected on this new disc, all of which were composed within the last five years, chart a remarkable new compositional direction.
Sometimes as I compose, I find myself turning back to the same creative solutions that worked in the past. No matter how different various projects may be, I can be tempted to impose the artistic tics that have embedded themselves deeply within my subconscious. Whether I’m working on the musical equivalent of a tote bag, a greeting card, or even a bird sculpture, I find myself putting a bird on it.
Part of the appeal of things that defy expectation is their ability to surprise. But of course, repeat exposure to an initially jolting experience eventually makes it normative.
The award-winning composers share prizes of over $40,000 and receive complimentary copies of Sibelius software. They will be recognized at the annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards at Merkin Concert Hall in New York on May 24, 2012.