Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A Gnarly Composer Speaks to His Audience
Towards the end (as of the evening of 12/19, anyway) of the hypertrophied comment thread a couple entries below here, Jerry Bowles contributed the following:
Let me try again. Because I am not a composer or a musician, I react to music viserally. It doesn't have to be sappy but it needs to touch me in some sensual way. Gnarly music seems to be asking me something but I usually don't understand the question--certainly not in the sophisticated, inhabited way that most of you folks do. But, like many consumers of music, I do know what I like. ... I mention all this because I think I am more or less typical of the audience most of you are trying to reach. I'm not suggesting that you change your style so us civilians will like it but you should be aware of what turns on our lights.
This is important, so I'd like to respond here - not on behalf of anyone other than myself, but I imagine that my attitudes about this issue are similar to those of other "gnarlyists."
Do I want you to enjoy my music? Absolutely.
Do I want you to care what I have to say, musically speaking? Absolutely.
I wouldn't write the music I write if I didn't feel it was somehow important, effective, and worth being heard. But what I want to be heard is this music - not another that may be more in line with the previous experiences of an unpredictably composed audience. I don't "want my music to be heard" in an abstract sense - I don't want to be famous; I'd settle for being respected by those whom I in turn respect. I simply put my work out there, to the degree possible, with the hope that others will discover in it what I find fascinating enough to devote my life to it.
In other words, I am speaking to the audience (and that itself is a very problematic concept for me, but that's another post) as equals - not as pupils, not as disciples, not as ignorant masses in need of enlightenment, but as fellow human beings with whom I want to share something that excites me. If it doesn't, then it's no so much that I have failed, nor that the audience has failed, nor that the music has failed, nor that the performer has failed, but that the fit wasn't right, and that is nobody's fault. It's an oft-repeated trope that what I am forced by circumstances to call "gnarly" music is hostile to the audience, or indifferent to it, or deprecatory; to me the truth is precisely the opposite. My attitude is not one of hostility or indifference but the greatest respect.