Composer Blogs@Sequenza21.com

Stefanie Lubkowski received her bachelor's degree in Music and Technology and Guitar Performance from Connecticut College, in New London, CT. In fall of 2005 she will begin a masters degree in composition at New England Conservatory, where she will study with Lee Hyla. Stefanie's past teachers include Noel Zahler, Yehudi Wyner, and Pozzi Escot. Stefanie has written for various chamber ensembles and electronic media. Her most recent commission was El Hombre de Plata, an electronic tango premiered at the Auros Groups for New Music "Tangothen & Now" concert in Cambridge, MA.

Stefanie's musical interests and ambitions are wide ranging. She enjoys putting her iPod on shuffle and letting it spit out a mix of electronica, 20th century string quartets, Tom Waits, punk rock, 1930s orchestral tangos, Einsturzende Neubauten, early American blues, Beethoven, Johnny Cash, and opera. She hopes that one day her music will be heard on concert stages around the world, independent films, computer games, car commercials, radio (or its future equivalents), and anywhere else music is being enjoyed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
playing with blocks

I seem to be having some sort of composerís block. Iím working on a second movement to a chamber piece based on ďI Put a Spell on YouĒ by Screaminí Jay Hawkins. (Scored for flute, clarinet, sax, cello and piano) Last week I was swimming in inspiration and wrote about a third of the movement in three days. Now Iím drowning in mediocrity. Everything I come up with sounds like crap (to my ears at least), and Iím having a hard time making decisionsÖ

As a young composer, I used to look forward to the time when I could just generate material through application to the problem at hand and plain hard work. It seems I can now do that, but the double edge of this sword is that generating reams of material may still only render one or two good things. Just about as much as if Iíd sat idle waiting for only good stuff.

So, while I dither about my next move, let me muse about why I started this crazy project in the first place. For many centuries, it was nothing if not expected that composers would turn to popular or folk music for inspiration and source material. In the modern era of media, celebrity, and the commodification of popular anything, weíve turned 180 degrees and reviled the pop. I think itís a perfectly healthy response to a world in which everything is engineered to sell little plastic discs rather than provide any genuine expression of anything. On the other hand, itís rather isolating to completely ignore something thatís all around us.
One day I was listening to a local college radio station and heard ďI Put A Spell on You.Ē I hadnít heard it in several years, and fresh exposure reminded me of how much I loved the quirky, yet powerful, passion of the song and itís performance. I started thinking about how I would use those sounds and motives in a piece of my own.
In my mind, there are two emotional aspects to the song: frenzied and powerful vs. desperate and pleading. My first movement captures the frenzied aspect, and now Iím trying to explore the desperation. But Iím stuck, and frustrated.