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.
By relevant, I simply mean forms that have some sort of social significance, beyond their historical interest, and in my view, there are only two:
Opera The Album (and by default, its constituent element: the Song)
Non-relevant forms? Sonatas, Symphonies, Concerti, Fugues (and many many more).
posted by jodru
Thursday, June 01, 2006
failure is not an option
Here's a quickie:
Can someone be a failure as a composer? And if so, define "failure."
My opinion, FWIW: failure has nothing to do with commercial success. You only fail as a composer if you don't succeed in writing what you want to write. Other than that, "failure" for composers (and artists as well) is not a relevant term.
posted by David Toub
To Entertain or Not to Entertain? Is That a Question?
To describe Corey Dargel’s CD release performance at Cornelia Street Café last week I have to use an adjective of which most music critics have no business getting within 10 feet. What’s the word? Funny. Sure, the concert was a lot more than that. Intriguing, poignant, exciting - these modifiers all had their moments. But, undeniably and consistently, it was funny.
For those of you familiar with Corey’s music, this might not be a huge surprise. In my review of Less Famous Than You, I mentioned that humor plays a recurring role in many of the songs. Clever lines inject a bit of emotional and narrative distance. In concert, however, humor shoots for double-billing. There were one-liners, hand puppets, and even a flute up the nose. Significantly, most of the jokes appeared choreographed, and some I even remembered from a previous performance.
The experience got me thinking. What was all the funny stuff about? A commentary on our entertainment-saturated society – the one that fuels the fame Corey addresses? Possible – though it’s hard to feel condemned when your accusers seem to be having so much fun. Was it a denser shade for the bruised hearts described in many of LFTY’s songs and a sugar coating for the bitter political pill Corey feeds us in the new songs he premiered? Again, possibilities, though as I described in my review, the songs do a thorough job of achieving this aim all by themselves. Or could it be sheer audience pandering? Well, could be, but shouldn’t that require that the humor some how detracts from the music or serves as a crutch for sub-par content? Neither is the case.
The conclusion I reached is that all the performing is really just an acknowledgement that, hey, this is a performance. Live music offers a visual and physical space that music alone is rarely shaped to fill. Throwing in some old-fashioned entertainment stops that gap and throws a bone to the non-auditory senses. Along the way, the audience loosens up and starts to suspect that art and fun and have more in common than three-letter length.
So, my question for the forum is this: do you consider the performative possibilities when putting notes on the page? If so, how? If not, why not?
posted by Lanier Sammons