Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Works that changed the way I hear sound.

Lawrence Dillon posted, “What pieces from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s have changed the way composers think about composing?”

Well here is a list of works that at the time changed the way I looked at music. I had not been exposed to much music post-1945 so these works opened my ears to a new world of sounds.

XAS for Saxophone Quartet (1987) - Iannis Xenakis
This was the first work of really new music I heard. It blew me away. I had not known that sounds like that existed. It was the most exciting thing I had ever heard, even though I was listening to a poor performance by the Rascher Quartet.

Piano Concerto - Gyorgy Ligeti
Piano Etudes Book 1
Both of these works are from the early to mid 1980s. I really think they are revolutionary works. I have only heard the first two books of etudes so far. I am partial to the first book. They are amazing. The concerto is definitely a masterpiece.

Kottos for solo cello (1977) - Iannis Xenakis
Kottos is his second major work for solo cello. I enjoy it much more than his other work for cello, Nomos Alpha. Kottos is very exciting. I think Xenakis composed very lyrical music, and this is a great example of Xenakis at his most beautiful and energetic.

Black Angels (1970?) - George Crumb
I have never been as creeped out by music as I was the first time I listened to this work.
It was another work that showed me new worlds of sound possibilities. I also love Vox Balanae, Music for a Summer Evening and Mundis Canis.

Concerto for Orchestra (1969) - Elliott Carter
I was really amazed at how weird this piece was (to my ears at the time). I am still not a fan of the Concerto for Orchestra but it prompted me to listen to a lot of Carter’s other works that I do enjoy. (His 2nd & 3rd String Quartets rock!)

I guess I jumped head first into some of the more hardcore new music.
Composer Everette Minchew (born 1977) is consistently active in the creation, performance, and promotion of contemporary music. Moderately prolific, his catalogue includes small chamber pieces for violin, piano, various wind instruments, harpsichord and electronic music. Current commissions include a string trio and an opera based on an 11th-century crusades tale. His earliest musical training came at the age of eleven when he began playing alto saxophone; it wasn’t long until he began his first attempts in composition.

He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music History from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he studied saxophone under world-renowned soloist, Lawrence Gwozdz.

Fearing that traditional university training would hinder his development as a progressive composer, he abandoned the idea of formal lessons in favor of an intense private study of modern masterworks.

Minchew's works are characterized by their intense timbral explorations and brutal dissonance. That is not to say, however, that the compositions are devoid of beauty. In the first of the Two Brief Pieces, for example, the harpsichord chimes stringent yet haunting chords evoking a sense of loss. Other pieces, like the Figment No. 2 "Juggler's Fancy" play upon the kaleidoscopic interaction between timbres and tones. The rapid alternation of pizzicato, arco bowing, and extreme glissandi remind the listener of Xenakis coupled with a Berio Sequenza. Minchew's Invention "Two-Part Contraption" for piano owes much to Ligeti's etudes and boogie-woogie jazz.

His music has been performed around the United States, and he was the featured composer at the 2005 Intégrales New Music Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
He currently resides in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with his wife, Cheryl.