Category: Podcasts and Discussions

dublab — The Current Landscape in Composition, Film Scoring and Publishing

Web Header (1200 × 500px) - Sen Moreira & Casey MQ

Warp Composers‘ Sen Moreira is joined by producer and composer Casey MQ in a conversation about the current landscape in the world of composition, film scoring, and publishing in an ever changing music industry.

Sen Moreira is the North America Licensing & Composer Manager for the newly established Warp Composers, representing composers across Warp Publishing and Warp Records rosters from their offices in Los Angeles and London.

Casey Manierka-Quaile is an artist, producer and composer from Toronto, now based in Los Angeles. He is classically trained as a pianist and has written and produced under the artist name of Casey MQ, collaborating with the likes of Oklou, Christine & The Queens, Flume and more. Winner of the 2021 Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song, Manierka’s scores have premiered at TIFF, SXSW, Berlinale, Sundance and Rotterdam Film Festival.

This program is part of New Music USA’s web magazine NewMusicBox “Guest Editor series”, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with dublab. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.

The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition.

The Guest Editor is the first such series in the magazine’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.

dublab — Staying True in the Film Industry

Chanda Dancy & Chandler Poling

Dublab Radio DJ Chandler Poling of Studio Soundtracks interviews film composer Chanda Dancy about her musical upbringing, her inspirations, and her creative contributions to the Sony Pictures’ feature film Devotion.  Together they discuss the public perception of what a composer is and how Chanda’s work challenges that perspective.

Native Texan Chanda Dancy started composing orchestral works at the age of 12. She has been described as a “phenomenal composer” (Ted Chung, Zacuto: Featured Filmmakers) and “quickly gaining recognition as a foremost black American contemporary composer.” (Anthony Parnther, Conductor, San Bernardino Symphony). Her works are described as “emotionally penetrating” (John Malveaux, Africlassical.com) and “rich” (George Heymont, Huffington Post).

An alumnus of the USC Film Scoring Program, and the Sundance Composers Lab, Chanda is both an accomplished film and television composer with over 18 years of experience and an emerging classical concert composer. Arts Boston named her one of “10 Contemporary Black Composers You Should Know”. She is known for her work on the Sundance award winning documentary Aftershock (Disney/Onyx Collective), the hit Netflix TV Original The Defeated starring Taylor Kitsch, the Korean War era epic Devotion starring Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell, and the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, directed by Kasi Lemmons.

Chandler Poling is the Co-Founder of White Bear PR, a Public Relations firm specializing in Publicity for Composers, Songwriters, Music Supervisors, and Film & Music Festivals around the world.  Throughout his career, Chandler has run successful Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy, BAFTA and Emmy campaigns securing nominations and wins. His clients have been featured in national and international publications, such as Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, New York Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian, LA Times, and Rolling Stone Magazine to name just a few. He created the first ever composer-focused panel at Comic-Con San Diego, the World’s Largest Pop Culture Convention.  These panels are now an ongoing tradition – a platform for composers to discuss their craft and meet their fans. In addition to producing and moderating panels, Chandler has been invited to give lectures on PR for Composers at Berklee College of Music, Royal College of Music, NYU, USC, and internationally in Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Krakow, Cologne, Ghent, and others. In Los Angeles, he is a radio DJ for the independent station Dublab where he hosts a monthly program called Studio Soundtracks featuring conversations with music professionals in the film, television and video game industries. He is proud to be part of the founding leadership of The Alliance for Women Film Composers and Vice President of Qweerty Gamers – a non-profit LGBTQ video game advocacy organization.

dublab — Samora and Elena Pinderhughes in conversation exploring the boundaries of creation

dublab: Samora and Elena Pinderhughes

Samora and Elena Pinderhughes in conversation around the blurred boundaries between composer, musician, instrumentalist, producer and songwriter. The musical multi-hyphenates dive deep into anecdotes, personal narratives and a bit of philosophy around their processes, their truths and the ways they’ve evolved as creators. They converse with a depth only collaborators who are also siblings can reach.

Samora Pinderhughes is a composer, pianist, vocalist, filmmaker, and multidisciplinary artist known for striking intimacy and carefully crafted, radically honest lyrics alongside high-level musicianship. In addition to his active music career and multidisciplinary artistic work, Samora is a PhD candidate in Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry at Harvard. Elena, who happens to be Samora’s sister, has been a celebrated flautist since she was 9 years old. Having toured and collaborated with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Common, Christian Scott, Future, and many more, Elena is also a singer and songwriter, most recently featured by Apple Music “Freedom Songs” Juneteenth series.

This program is part of New Music USA’s web magazine NewMusicBox “Guest Editor series”, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with dublab. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.

The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition.

The Guest Editor is the first such series in the magazine’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.

dublab — Compositional Curiosities

Web Header co branding (New Musicn USA & dublab) - Beatie Wolfe & Mark Mothersbaugh

Listen to Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh and visionary artist Beatie Wolfe talk about the art of composition and other creative curiosities their worlds collide with, including their viral campaign Postcards for Democracy.

Presented as part of ON AIR LA ANNEX, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh and “musical weirdo and visionary” Beatie Wolfe discuss the art of composition, building worlds, and how being a conceptual artist can further open up and inform these spaces. Straddling multidisciplines, the pair also revisit Postcards for Democracy, their 2020 collective art campaign in support of USPS, and chat about its impact and how they are still receiving cards today ahead of the next election.

This program is part of New Music USA’s web magazine NewMusicBox “Guest Editor series”, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with dublab. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.

The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition.

The Guest Editor is the first such series in the magazine’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.

dublab – Composing for Film: A Conversation with Emily Rice

An altered image of Emily Rice against a blue background with the NMUSA and dublab logos superimposed

 

For this edition of dublab x New Music USA, join Elyn Kazarian and film composer Emily Rice as they discuss the process behind composing, collaborating with directors, finding your own voice, and ways to build a strong financial foundation. The first hour of the program will include a 30 minute mix of songs from various film scores composed by women.

This program is part of New Music USA’s web magazine NewMusicBox “Guest Editor series”, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with dublab. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.

The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition.

The Guest Editor is the first such series in the magazine’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.

 

Tracklist

“Life As A Carer” – Rachel Portman
“Eviction Notice” – Pinar Toprak
“Something to Believe in Again” – Pinar Toprak
“Main Title” (The Shining) – Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind
“Rocky Mountains” – Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind
“Defeated Clown” – Hildur Guðnadóttir
“Gallery” – Hildur Guðnadóttir
“Northwest Neighbourhood” – Emily Rice, Ro Rowan
“Smoke” – Lesley Barber
“Manchester Minimalist Piano and Strings” – Lesley Barber
“Coco’s Theme” – Kathryn Bostic
“Rising” – Morgan Kibby
“When We Were Boys” – Morgan Kibby
“Ronsel Leaves” – Tamar-Kali
“But For Love” – Tamar-Kali

Elena Ruehr: Turning Emotion Into Sound

 

Ever since I heard the Cypress Quartet’s first recording of three string quartets by Elena Ruehr over a decade ago, I was entranced by her music. And after hearing the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s 2014 recording of works of hers inspired by paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, I made a mental note that I needed to talk with her for NewMusicBox one day. This fall turned out to be an ideal time for us to finally connect. Her opera Cosmic Cowboy, created in collaboration with librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs, just had a successful three-performance run at Emerson College, and Guerrilla Opera will give the first performance of another Ruehr opera, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, created with librettist Royce Vavrek, at MIT in February. Plus her Ninth String Quartet is receiving its world premiere the first weekend of November.

It’s a remarkable amount of activity after the last two and a half years of pandemic-related cancellations. But Ruehr was nevertheless extremely active during that period, composing over 30 new pieces, some of which were even performed during that time, either in virtual concerts or masked up in controlled environments. Ruehr’s prolific output is a by-product of her maintaining a consistent composing schedule (five hours every day from Noon to 5:00pm) as well as her never-ending inspiration from the visual arts and her constant reading (four books a week), plus her desire to communicate with listeners.

“Beauty is really important, but also accessibility,” she opined during a Zoom chat we had in late September. “I’m sure that your average non-classical musician isn’t gonna necessarily like what I do, but I think most people who like classical music, even standard classical music, will find that the music that I write is something that they can approach. And that matters to me. That’s important to me.”

All the other details that go into creating a piece–whether its her fascination with combinatorial diatonic pitch sets (an influence from serial music that sounds nothing like serialism) or how she sonically interprets O’Keefe paintings and novels like Cloud Atlas and Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto–are ultimately much less important for her than the emotional impact she hopes her music will have on listeners.

“I write it not caring whether you know the references, because it’s the emotional transference of one thing to another, and that’s the thing that I hope that the people who are listening get,” she explained. “If they have the references, it enriches it. But, if they don’t, the emotional thing is hopefully contained in it. … I try to make a sound out of the emotion that I’m feeling. And when I say ah yes, I captured it, then I write it down, and then I work on it. So it’s all about turning emotion into sound. As far as I’m concerned, that’s my job; that’s what I do.”

Her love for O’Keefe makes a lot of sense. (“She was doing representational art at a time when abstract art was sort of the thing. … Her story gave me courage to do what I wanted to do, which I think is more representational and less abstract, or more narrative and about expressing emotion.”)  But sometimes the things that have inspired her are quirkier. She actually attributes her attachment to writing for string quartet as well as her music’s polystylistic inclinations to hearing the Beethoven and Bartók quartets when she was a little girl and mixing them all up, erroneously thinking that they were all composed by someone named Bella Bartók, a female composer!

From that formative mash-up, she went on to immerse herself in Medieval and Renaissance music, minimalism, world music, and even pop. Now it’s all part of her compositional language.

“Anything that I like, I will just incorporate or steal, or whatever you want to call it,” she said with a grin.

We had a very pleasurable hour chatting about all these things and I felt it could have gone on much longer. But I made sure we ended before Noon so she could embark on another composition.

dublab – Natural Soundscapes

Noah Klein in a park

Dublab co-founder Mark “Frosty” McNeill visits Griffith Park to chat with Noah Klein, co-founder of the Floating collective which hosts a weekly series of roving soundscapes and soundbaths activated in unique and natural spaces. During the course of their conversation, Klein discusses his personal musical practice, history of community organizing through the lens of music, deep love of nature, and dedication to creative placemaking.

Launched during the thick of the Covid Pandemic, the Floating series was just what Los Angeles needed—an invitation to come outside and hear the city in new ways. Through a weekly series of roving soundscapes and soundbaths activated in unique and natural spaces, the Floating collective have opened up Angelenos’ ears and spirits to the wonders of the environments around them.

These all ages happenings are generous affairs both for the audience and performers who are encouraged to embrace the indeterminacy of outdoor performance and expand into the infinite potential of the moment. Floating succeeds in merging the ambience of the city with the intentionality of sonic artistry and as collective co-founder Noah Klein puts it, “Finding the threads between soundscape and landscape.”

dublab co-founder Mark “Frosty” McNeill sat down with Noah Klein to discuss his personal musical practice, history of community organizing through the lens of music, deep love of nature and dedication to creative placemaking. Their conversation took place under a canopy of trees at Trails Cafe, in Griffith Park over a chickpea salad sandwich and cold beverages.

This program is part of New Music USA’s web magazine NewMusicBox “Guest Editor series”, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with dublab. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.

The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition.

The Guest Editor is the first such series in the magazine’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.

Joy Guidry: Transforming Trauma through the Creative Process

Joy Guidry

Composer/Bassoonist Joy Guidry shares how they protect their own mental health while exploring personally traumatic content in their art. We discuss their critically acclaimed debut album, Radical Acceptance (2022), which traces Joy’s personal experiences of Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. Joy differentiates between the harmful nature of forcing oneself to relive a traumatic personal memory in order to create art, and the act of reclaiming and transforming one’s experience through communal storytelling. Lastly, Joy shares what they wish others knew about Bipolar Disorder and how musical institutions can be more ADA compliant and accessible.

Raven Chacon: Fluidity of Sound

Banner for the Raven Chacon episode of SoundLives featuring a photo of Raven writing music on a piece of score paper.

Raven Chacon in conversation with Frank J. Oteri
Recorded Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 10:30 A.M. over Zoom
Additional voiceovers by Brigid Pierce; audio editing by Anthony Nieves

When Raven Chacon was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music in April for his composition Voiceless Mass, quite a lot of attention was given to the fact that he was the first Native American ever to receive this accolade. He is also perhaps the most experimental composer to get the nod, and that is true even considering that previous honorees include Henry Brant and Ornette Coleman. But while his idiosyncratic graphic scores are stunningly original in their conception and have been recognized as works of visual art in their own right (several are in this year’s Whitney Biennial), they have a larger social purpose.

“I think a lot about people who didn’t have the privilege to come up in an academic music setting or western music education,” explained Chacon when we spoke over Zoom earlier this month. “I think about the students I teach on the reservation and their lack of access to classical music, or western music education. Even having an instrument is a privilege for students out there. And so a lot works that I’ve made, especially these graphic scores, they’re done because they want to include more people. They aren’t these kind of esoteric languages that are hidden from everybody and they’re also not open interpretation kind of documents either. They have a language that is shared with people who want to contribute to their meaning, to add to the possibilities.”

The ideas that generate Chacon’s often highly experimental sound results are charged stories with deep implications about ecological concerns or social justice, such as Tremble Staves, an immersive work about the environment created for the San Francisco-based duo The Living Earth Show, or American Ledger No. 2, a visceral aural as well as visual response to this nation’s shameful history of enforced repatriations which received its world premiere in the parking lot of the Oklahoma Eagle in the Greenwood District of Tulsa.

“It’s thinking about this space that is existing in a city where there’s folks who don’t have privileges and resources,” Chacon said of the latter work. “Also talking about the policy of forcing native peoples from other tribes into Oklahoma. Once these minoritized communities become successful, such as the black community of Tulsa in the early 20th century, they were then driven out. Were forced out. And so sonically, I was interested in seeing what this system does. Does it create chaos? Does it create organization? Does it create a steady beat? Does it create voice? What happens inside of this?”

To hear Chacon speak of sonic experimentation this way makes his often intentionally inaccessible-sounding music extremely accessible. His occasionally jarring sonorities are always a means to an end. It isn’t always something that even he himself finds pleasant to listen to as he acknowledged when talking about his wind band composition American Ledger No. 1:

I can’t say that I particularly like the sound of the chopping of wood. I was thinking about this as an instrument and realizing I didn’t think it was a good way to make music. And I had to work with that. I had to think if I’m just making music that should be something that I like to listen to. And even if it’s a sound that nobody likes to hear, I wanted to weigh the meaning of what it could mean. And so in the case of American Ledger 1, the chopping of wood signifies the building of ships. It signifies the building of the colonies that happened in the place after the ships arrived. And it has the potential to talk about then cutting down those buildings–chopping them down with an axe, lighting them on fire. A matchstick is another instrument I use in American Ledger 2 and in Tremble Staves. And I do like the sound of a match being lit. That, on the strike pad, is a beautiful sound.

One of the most extreme examples of this is his early composition Report in which an ensemble of eight people fire shotguns according to a precisely notated musical score. His feelings about that work now and around whether to let future performances of it occur in an era when mass shootings occur somewhere in the United States every week, are understandably extremely complicated.

Because societal awareness is so central to Raven Chacon’s aesthetics as an artist, he has proven to be a natural collaborator, often placing himself in situations where few composers would feel comfortable. For the opera Sweet Land, which was produced by The Industry just before the pandemic lockdown began in 2020, he immersed himself in a total collaboration with another composer, Du Yun, both contributing their own music as well as harmonizing, orchestrating, and further developing ideas of each other. His collaborative sensibilities were on display most recently in the score he composed for Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli’s documentary film, Lakota Nation vs. United States, which just received its premiere screening at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

“I appreciated not being in the foreground for anything,” Chacon said. “I appreciated being able to reach into archives of things that I have that didn’t fit my normal music. You know, like Baroque fugue or something, why couldn’t that end up in the documentary about the Lakota nation, you know? Because we’re contrasting different times of American history. And sometimes the placement of just music you don’t expect is going to add to telling that story of that conflict. What we’re talking about throughout this documentary is conflict, encroachment. … That was how I approached it because again the last thing I wanted to do was bring new age, reverbed wooden flutes to this score. That’s what’s expected. And so the producers and directors had known my music, and that’s what they wanted. They wanted noise. They wanted the things that one does not associate with native people. Because to do so, might place them in the past. And we’re talking about an ongoing disrespect of Lakota treaties and people that something had to bring it at least into now and into what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Frank Ticheli: Overcoming Anxiety & Trusting the Subconscious

Frank Ticheli conducting

Composer Frank Ticheli shares his experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which manifested in his 30’s in the form of chronic pain and impeded his ability to compose. We discuss how Frank reframed his relationship to his writing process in order to reconnect with his work, difficulties with medication and therapy, and how cultivating a dialogue with one’s subconscious enriches creativity. Lastly, we discuss Frank’s An American Elegy, commissioned by the Alpha Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at Columbine High School, and the role that educators can play in caring for and monitoring their students’ mental health during increasingly anxious times.