Years before Hollywood cemented the theremin’s association with the alien or otherworldly, critics heard different qualities in its sonority: emotional expressiveness and excessive sentimentality.
In addition to the acquisition of skills, there lies something more at hand—something in addition to the technical dexterities we need to practice and hone in order to produce our work to its fullest capacity. Since the classical age, the Greeks have been calling this missing ingredient “play” (paidia).
The Recording Academy handed out many other awards yesterday aside from the ones featured in the televised presentations during last night’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony. Here are some of the ones we are most excited about.
In order to guide us all toward a more perfect harmony in writing for the chorus, and because writing for the chorus is often neglected in the training of composers at academic institutions, I have put together a compilation of some of the most prevalent pitfalls that I have seen over and over again—even by some of today’s most reputable composers.
This week, Kelly Hiser begins a tour of encounters between audiences and new electronic sounds with a look back at the Telharmonium, installed in New York City from 1906 to 1908 and occupying TWO floors of “Telharmonium Hall” at Broadway and 39th Street.
In the music world, being a fan isn’t a bad gig. Unlike musicians, you can book yourself, so to speak, at any venue you want. You don’t have to go on the road unless you want to. You can avoid promoting yourself, finding a record label, and coming up with music to play. Of course you’ll never be applauded by an audience, yet you’ll almost always be thanked for “coming out tonight” by the musicians you go to see.
I realize that numbers are a bit sterile, especially for something as artistic as opera and as unique as voice, but they could be replaced with words. The challenge is to find words that are descriptive but without the built-in prejudice from earlier voice type systems.
When we use the phrase “singers and musicians” in one breath, we communicate—even if inadvertently—that they are mutually exclusive categories. In other words, singers are not musicians. That’s a problem.
Ellen Reid’s instinctive team spirit, as well as her awareness that sound always exists alongside other sensory stimuli, informs all the music she creates, whether it’s the score for the emotionally traumatic yet life-affirming opera p r i s m, the soundtrack for a motion picture, incidental music for theater, a sound installation, or a work for chamber ensemble or orchestra.
The toy piano is a different beast from a modern grand—and in a way that’s what makes it a great instrument for exploring piano preparations. Toy pianos are a lot cheaper, after all, and a lot easier to repair or replace if you damage one. But that aside, this diminutive instrument also offers a great timbral world all its own to experiment with.
Political Music, Musical Politics: A Discussion Panel with Samuel Adler, Maria Grenfell, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Catherine Likhuta
The intersection of music and politics is a perennially fascinating topic, though ideas and philosophies often rub uncomfortably against actual musical practice. How is it, for example, that Beethoven’s music of universal brotherhood could also serve as the anthem of an apartheid nation-state? Composers Samuel Adler, Maria Grenfell, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Catherine Likhuta sat down with Ryan Ebright to share their wide-ranging thoughts during the 39th Annual New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University.
Harmonics? Muting? Glissandi and Pizz?! Alan Shockley continues his video series on prepared piano playing with an introduction to a handful of techniques on the strings that will provide many new timbres to explore.
Work the Work, Daily: Community-Building, Music-Making, and Conference Culture with Tenderloin Opera Company
If we in the new music community truly want to open our field and welcome more voices, we will have to come out of our comfort zones. Jacob Richman draws on his experiences working with the Tenderloin Opera Company, a homeless advocacy music and theater group, to present this powerful look into the impact of community art and what it takes to make deep and effective connections.
An ideal updated system for vocal classification would serve singers, composers, and producers. The goal is to create more flexibility for singers, a more usable tool for composers, and more detailed information for producers when it comes to casting and programming.
Alan Shockley dives in deeper with detailed video demos of even more piano preparations that will allow you to continue to explore without fear!
I was expecting something cool but fairly low-key. This isn’t New York or LA, after all; Winnipeg is only the 7th most populous city in Canada (which has one tenth the population of the US). What I found was fairly mind-blowing. A week-long festival dedicated entirely to contemporary music from Canada and abroad. With searing −40° weather outside.
If a mezzo-soprano and a countertenor share the same range and often the same roles, then why are they separate types? And why is there an obvious gender difference?
Lots of pianists and composers are a bit intimidated by the idea of reaching inside the piano, or of inserting foreign objects into the instrument. For those who would like to do some exploring but are feeling apprehensive, Alan Shockley is here to walk you through a few simple preparations and give you the confidence to get started.
If you’re an ambitious person (and I bet you are), you probably have lots of things on your list that you’re going to start “once you have time.” That can be a losing proposition, though, because rarely do things actually calm down. Rebecca Hass is here to help you enter 2019 with a plan to prioritize and take better care of yourself by making small changes—starting now!
My experience as a transgender nonbinary singer has led me to question the effectiveness of the voice type classifications that we currently have in place.
In our day and age of dazzling musical talent that’s available at the push of a button or the click of a link, the music and legacy of George Walker may represent possibilities that are more and more difficult to find: The devotion to a personal vision at a time when many composers conform to an extant musical scene. My brother and I will never forget what it was to be loved by our father. But today any musician or music lover who’s willing to challenge themselves can share with us what he was.
It all started with a conversation. What could we possibly do as teachers and as artists to make things better? We wanted to do something more profound, more long-lasting and impactful.
Composer Roberto Sierra frequently likes to tell the story of how, when he was growing up in Puerto Rico, he would hear Pablo Casals playing his cello on television while salsa recordings of the Fania All-Stars blared outside on the street. Most of Sierra’s music—which spans numerous works for soloists, chamber ensembles, and orchestra as well as his massive Missa Latina—has forged a synthesis of these two musical realms. But the question of what kinds of music are local or global is more complex than it might initially seem.
Before we sing another chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” and bring the curtain down on 2018, we have an annual tradition among the staff here at New Music USA of revisiting some of the tracks that caught our ears and hung on for any number of good reasons.