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Is This the End of New Music?

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.)

Comments

Comment from davidcoll
Time: July 11, 2007, 10:53 am

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.

Comment from Jerry Bowles
Time: July 11, 2007, 12:09 pm

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.

Comment from andrea
Time: July 11, 2007, 12:49 pm

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

Comment from lawrencedillon
Time: July 11, 2007, 1:04 pm

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.

Comment from davidcoll
Time: July 11, 2007, 1:33 pm

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

Comment from Tom Myron
Time: July 11, 2007, 2:01 pm

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?!?

Comment from Steve Smith
Time: July 11, 2007, 2:47 pm

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.

Comment from zeno
Time: July 11, 2007, 2:49 pm

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

Comment from Steve Smith
Time: July 11, 2007, 3:34 pm

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.

Comment from Chris Becker
Time: July 11, 2007, 3:36 pm

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.

Comment from Steve Smith
Time: July 11, 2007, 4:02 pm

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.