Performer Blogs@Sequenza21.com

Jay C. Batzner is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida where he teaches theory, composition, and technology courses as well as coordinates the composition program. He holds degrees in composition and/or theory from the University of Missouri Kansas City, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kansas.

Jay's music is primarily focused around instrumental chamber works as well as electroacoustic composition. His music has been recorded on the Capstone, Vox Novus, and Beauport Classical labels and is published by Unsafe Bull Music.

Jay is a sci-fi geek, an amateur banjoist, a home brewer, and juggler.





3/24/2006
Definition

I've been mulling over the whole "composer/hobbyist" debate in my head for a while now. Even though I make more money working at a liquor store than I do as a composer, I still tell people that I am a composer first. Teacher comes second. That is only when people ask me for a description of my job. Actually, when someone asks "What do you do for a living" I say that I am a father. That is the most important thing for me to be right now.

The whole need to "self-define" ourselves is really puzzling to me. Uptown/Downtown. Academic/Populist. Neoromantic/Post Modern. I don't know that these kinds of distinctions are for us to determine. And, as an artist, I don't think it is a good idea to spend a lot of time discussing it. All we can do is write what we need to write. History will give a label to it, if necessary. Students will learnt the label and, if they are really interested, find out why the label doesn't really apply. History is like that.

The problem with labeling is that the label often precludes the notion that most composers are contradictory. At least I am. Maybe I'm not, but I think that I am. We will talk about "What Our Music Is Like" and then, invariably, write something that cuts against what we just said. At least I do. My own style, if such a thing there be, is so amorphous in my mind that I cannot succinctly state my artistic purpose. Yet I am supposed to label myself so that others can know which camp I'm in.

When the whole Uptown/Downtown talk starts up, my eyes just glaze over. Maybe it is because I'm a Midwesterner. We really don't give a shit about who is Uptown or who is Downtown. All we really want to know is: Is the music any good? Our lives are so full of eclectic artistic experiences. Must we really nitpick over the different camps? I listen to Boulez, They Might Be Giants, Carter, and Bela Fleck. Do I worry about what artistic camps they are in? Heck no. All I know is that I like the music. I can figure out why I like it and seek to find more like it, but I don't buy into any one artistic camp at the exclusion of others.

So, if I don't care about the labels of others, why should I care about a label for myself?