Composers Forum is a daily web log that allows invited contemporary composers to share their thoughts and ideas on any topic that interests them--from the ethereal, like how new music gets created, music history, theory, performance, other composers, alive or dead, to the mundane, like getting works played and recorded and the joys of teaching. If you're a professional composer and would like to participate, send us an e-mail.


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Judith Lang Zaimont

Composer Blogs@ Sequenza21.com

Lawrence Dillon
Elodie Lauten
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Alan Theisen
Corey Dargel



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Thursday, July 14, 2005
I am in the Union even if you think I suck

Glad to see that my call to unionize has gotten some attention in the sequenza21 blogosphere (would that be 2 Gís Derek?). You should probably read my blog entry called Composers Union, and the few comments to get caught up on the union discussion.

I have to agree with Corey Dargel that a union made up of self proclaimed lazy composers is possibly a bad idea. Though who is to say that lazy composers canít write good music. And also, who is to say that just because a composer is lazy, that they should be banned from our union.

Perhaps lazy is the wrong word? Are the French lazy because they have a 35 hour work week? The 35 hour work week seems to be in the spirit of lifestyle. And this is a lifestyle that I do believe composers should have access to. Though my use of the word lazy is not my own invention, it comes directly from our Ďgo getterí composer culture. Perhaps the Puritans are to blame as Judd was saying. I sure am used to blaming the Puritans for just about everything here in Boston: Oh why does the damn T stop running at 1am? Oh why do bars close at 2am? It is those pesky Puritans.

Anyway, my point is that our microscopic composer sub-sub-culture is what says you are lazy if you donít go for it and work those 80 hours weeks. I am just pointing it out. Think about it. If you worked only 35 hours a week as composer (this includes teaching, for those of you who do it) is it possible to have a composer career that is anything better than almost mediocre? Unless of course you donít have to teach, or work in a book store, or drive a cab. Yes, I guess those who are independently wealthy, or have parents, or a rich uncle helping out, can work 35 hours a week at composing and not be in the Union and not be lazy, and spawn an above average composer career. They of course may have others take care of things like copying, preparing parts and scores, mailing out to competitions, jockeying for performances, perhaps even writing their blog...

The other point that Aaron Cassidy made about talent is a good one. Perhaps more than half do give up. Perhaps it is because they do not believe they have talent. Others who have talent and do not want to work the 80 hour a week composer scam, end up writing in obscurity.

I do believe that our Union should be made up of talented composers, but then the question is who judges talent. We have all been to too many new music concerts, I am sure. How often do you say, now that composer has talent. I think that it is safe to say that most of us think that most of us suck. This is not a personal thing. A critique of someone elseís music should probably not feel personal, on either the giving or receiving end. So if most of us think that most of us suck, then what do we do about the Union? Do we accept having people who we think suck amongst us? I guess we do that already, so why not in the Union. Solidarity seems more powerful than navel examinations of how much does thee suck, and will we still let you in the Union.

 



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