I wasn’t able to make the premiere screening on July 4 but I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about a new documentary film called The End of New Music, which follows Judd Greenstein, David T. Little, and Missy Mazzoli, the founders of Free Speech Zone, as they tour the East Coast with the groups Newspeak and NOW Ensemble, playing concerts in unlikely venues like clubs and bars and bringing new music to audiences that might not otherwise be exposed to it.  The film, directed by Stephen S. Taylor, takes a verite approach to the tour, combined with interviews and various performance footage.  You can watch video samples or buy a copy at American Beat Productions.  You can also read Steve Smith’s terrific Times review there. 

Anybody seen the film?  (I know you have, Judd.)

11 Responses to “Is This the End of New Music?”
  1. Steve Smith says:

    Chris, your message was the very heart and soul of reasoned argument. But it was also the first that made me question how well I’d done my job — and I mean that in the most constructive sense, in that I always have more to learn and more work to do in refining my craft.

    And oh, my, yes, I’ve read Get In the Van numerous times — Black Flag being very near the top of the list of performers I wish I’d seen live when I had the chance.

  2. Chris Becker says:

    Steve I hope my email to you last week about FSZ fell in the “reasoned argument” category. Have you read Get In The Van by Henry Rollins?

    I appreciate the questions this film might present to the composers who see it; i.e. How do you want to present your music? How much control do you want over that presentation in terms of venue, sound and publicity? And have you (all of us) – as a result of this decision making – possibly painted yourself into a corner when it comes to audience outreach? These questions are relevant to me as a composer and as someone who produces or co-produces concerts.

    And if FSZ isn’t the model that inspires you…create your own world.

  3. Steve Smith says:

    Hoo, baby, did I sound shrill up there! Let me hasten to add, it’s not the comments HERE that prompted my malaise, but rather messages I received privately and through my blog, which already had me questioning the job I did.

  4. zeno says:

    breathlessly awaiting TEONM II and III (pace, The Decline of Western Civilization ’81, ’88, and ’98) …

  5. Steve Smith says:

    Perhaps the title should have been The Death of “New Music,” since the real idea is that the misery of the 2004 presidential election prompted Judd, David and Missy to cast off the concept of an aesthetic pursuit hermetically sealed against societal engagement, in favor of a more activist approach NOT JUST in terms of where to perform, but also WHAT.

    I’ve received just enough negative feedback about that article — some typically anonymous, some not — to make me realize that this was one area in which my article most certainly fell short: Judd defined his usage of “new music” pretty clearly in the film, and I should have made a greater effort to report that. If I had the article to do over again, I’d try to make that point more emphatically.

    Otherwise, I’ve been hearing both reasoned argument and supercilious snark about how this is just the “same ol’ same ol.'” Yes, well, maybe Free Speech Zone didn’t invent a new musical genre or reinvent the notion of touring. But the title of Stephen’s film is still, I think, an accurate depiction of the spark that motivated the 2005 tour.

  6. Tom Myron says:

    I just love the “piano out of tune” clip. Welcome to bringin’ it to the people, people. Making a doc is a blast. I’ve shot & scored a few myself. I’ll happily shoot 20 Krugerrands their way. Yoiks, am I a nobody?!?

  7. davidcoll says:

    “nobodies” gonna watch this….unless someone puts it on youtube.

  8. Nothing wrong with accuracy, but my guess is more people are likely to watch something called The End of New Music. No need to expect anything more from a title.

  9. andrea says:

    how about “three young composers discover what many have figured out before them: the lure of D.I.Y.”

  10. Jerry Bowles says:

    Well, the title does seem to be somewhat misleading. Something like – Can Three Young Composers Save New Music by Getting Down and Dirty? – might have been more on target.

  11. davidcoll says:

    just commenting from the exerpts, its really hard to get an idea of just how objective this documentary is, as theres very little to reflect over. The title certainly doesn’t suggest this type of documentary- where it is, above all, a documentation of events rather than presenting a particular opinion.
    I suppose theres a lot more questions to ask, but i’ll let someone else get into it if they’d like.