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.
Delius reportedly used to cringe and get angry at the mention of "English music." He found the term objectionable, in part because it grouped him with people like Elgar.
Someone asked on the previous thread whether we consider ourselves American composers. By definition, of course, we are, but what qualifies as American music? Remember, most of what we think of has been heavily influenced by Europe. Partch himself recognized this and tried to create a truly American music, or at least one with most of its roots in this country.
So, what is American music? Is that term appropriate, or is it offensive to some? Do we really care?
posted by David Toub
Friday, July 29, 2005
Am I a Snob? Are You a Snob?
Intellectually, we all know that one kind of music cannot be considered superior to another: people need music for different reasons, and different musics have emerged to meet those needs. Someone doesn’t care for one kind of music not because that music is "bad," but because one is simply not needy for what that music has to give.
Intuitively, however, I sometimes find it hard to keep all this in mind. I had such a moment a week ago while listening to Clifford Curzon’s recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto with Hans Knappertsbusch and the Vienna Philharmonic. So rich and colorful was the music, so flawless the performance, that I said aloud to the friend I was with that, damn it, there was some fine pop music out there, but nothing – nothing – like this. How pale even the Beatles were next to such magnificence!
Do you have moments like this, too? Or am I just a hopelessly elitist Germanophilic snob who’s out of touch with . . . everything?
posted by David Salvage
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
If you're in NYC this week, come and check out Laboratory Theater's performances of QUERELLE QUARTET and COMING FORTH BY DAY Thursday and Friday at 8:30pm at HERE Arts Center, part of the American Living Room festival. Here are some press quotes:
One of "Three to watch from the American Living Room" -- New York Magazine
"...ironic, weird, experimental, anti-dramatic, and compelling work..." -Alisa Solomon, The Village Voice
You can read some info about the performances here. I am a founding member of this critically acclaimed Brooklyn-based experimental theater company. I'll be acting, singing, and dancing in the show. I'm also partially responsible for the sound design. It's a great show, and only $15 tickets. You should come! And say hello if you do.
I still don’t quite understand the rules and etiquette of Blogging. Please help! The question I pose today is:
Is it ok to mention people by name in your blog and not get permission? What are the boundaries?When is it definitely bad form? What are the considerations? Is blogging more like journalism or a diary?
To sing, or not to sing--and just play it back, that is the question. …
Lyric (catchy) music is sometimes looked upon, since 1945 anyway, as old fashioned. But Barber, Hanson, Fine, and others kept the flame alive in the tonal/classical world. Pop music pretty much took over the genre where any widely spread vocal music was concerned.
“Hooks” can be important, certainly in the commercial music world. But I think it runs deeper than that. Something that’s more often left out of the discussion is the physicality of making music, and the internal physical resonance that provides to singers, players, and listeners alike.
A pianist in the midst of a Chopin or Beethoven Concerto is working hard, as are the Stones and James Brown. They can be as much fun (or more) to watch as to hear.
I sang in Mahler 2 at Indiana University recently, with Roberto Abbado conducting. Abbado is a fine conductor, the real deal. The orchestra played with vitality and freshness. Soprano Christina Pier and mezzo Leslie Mutchler sang like angels. And the last movement was especially vibrant due to the superb preparation of the chorus by conductor Jan Harrington. Popping a CD in the player simply cannot compare with the visceral vibe of standing in the middle of that.
All this is to point up that music is still a physical activity, both to make and to consume. It’s why amateur choruses still exist. It’s why community bands play on. It’s why people go to live concerts. And it’s a quality that composers sometimes forget when we line our notes up neatly on the paper and have the computer play them back.
Recording can be great, and electronic music can be magical. But call me hedonistic. For my money, the live performance and music with a physical resonance, maybe even a catchy tune with a hook, is where the action is.
posted by Cary Boyce