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Watch this video and tell me you don’t think that this will fundamentally change music, pretty much all genres, the day after it comes out (September).


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It may be old news to some of regular music blog readers, but I think some of the tips by conductor Kenneth Woods – Oh no! More tips…. Now it’s the poor composers…. might be of interest to S21 readers.  The rehearsal tips alone are something every composer should memorize.  The notation tips, might be controversial, but they’re what I have been doing since I got our of grad school.  Always using Italian for instructions, notating as simply as possible, etc.  His story about the recent composer in residence process as seen through an arts community was also fascinating.  Thanks to Maestro Woods for sharing his expertise with the new music community!

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OK, here’s an idea I’ve been working on for a few days… it attempts to combine ALL the projects/ideas into one. What it attempts to do is this:

1. Empower and pay performers – get them excited to be involved
2. Be easily replicable across cities
3. Keep the concert experience short and not too much setup
4. Produce a CD in the process
5. Auto-generate a podcast when combined with interviews
6. Do NOT commission composers – pay performers well – develop some loyalty in the process
7. Combine the ‘variety show’ aspect of the miniatures concert (Miniaturist Ensemble/60×60/Analog Ensemble Micro-Happenings) – with a slightly longer time interval

Well… now here’s the idea:

1. Participating cities/regions will have one coordinator and one core standard ensemble for each concert. (Pierrot quintet, string quartet, etc). That means less setup, less coordination, easy to replicate or do again. By using a Pierrot quintet style group, we can have duos, trios, etc.
2. S21 will go through our comments and blogs and articles and find every person that left an email address. People who write articles and have blogs and/or comment more than X times here will get extra credit. This will be our pool of composers for the concerts.
3. These folks will be invited to send scores/pdf’s to the coordinator for each concert. No anonymous entry. This is about community/music/people. Pinning music to the names of the folks that ‘shoot their mouths off’ here as somebody politely put it.
4. The participating ensemble and the coordinator will pick 10 or so composers and each composer will be asked to write a 5-6 minute piece for that ensemble and for this particular concert.
5. The ensemble will go through the pieces as they arrive and decide if they want to or can play them or not.
6. A concert will take place and be recorded and these 10-12 pieces will be recorded and be in the CD. We make a podcast by adding interviews with the performers and the composers. We can do this by phone if necessary. We can even make a podcast of the concert preliminaries, interviewing the folks involved ‘in process.’

The main things I tried to do in thinking up this process was to remove the hassles we experienced in putting on the last S21 concert. Not too many performers, pay them well, make them the stars. Shorter pieces, no setup hassles and recording as part of the thinking. Get each performer/composer to agree to the license BEFORE the concert.

The numbers can be debated… my thinking has been to develop an easily replicable process; to make S21 a concert/commissioning/performance venue. The shortness of the pieces, I recognize is problematic, but we represent a huge cross-section of composers here. How can we be inclusive and have plenty of variety?


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Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to keep up with the spam attacks our little wiki have suffered and have been forced, because of bandwidth charges, to take it temporarily down. I don’t mind spending a few bucks for the new music world; I’m just not that interested in spending bucks for creepy botboys.

I’ll be looking for some plugins or other solutions in the meantime. Sorry for any inconvenience. All of the data is fine – including a zillion links to sex toys, viagra, ciallis in our articles and then there’s the spam stuff too! Just kidding… and stay tuned.

P.S.  It’s back up.  I upgraded to the latest version and installed two new spam-blocking systems.  One, unfortunately, requires that you verify you’re not a bot by typing in 2 words.  Any help, removing all of the krrrrrap those jerks put into our wiki would be appreciated.

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After his spectacular Spoleto Festival performance of the 16 piece Violin Futura set, Piotr Szewczyk continues to promote the series with a new video and an upcoming gig at the Santa Fe New Music Festival, February 2nd.

Check out the entire series, which was designed around short, exciting pieces for solo violin composed just for Piotr. My favorites include our own Lawrence Dillon’s Mister Blister, Piotr’s Cadenza and Carson Cooman’s The Doors in the Sky. Other composers featured include Mason Bates, John Kennedy, Marc Mellits, and myself with Puce. Piotr’s use of YouTube videos and the web in general for promotion of the series is a model for any new music superstar wannabe.

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In the interest of furthering dialog between our 12ET brethren and our more flavorful microtonalist artists I present this provocative YouTube recording of America’s favorite band, Van Halen attempting to close a set with their signature cheeseburger – Jump.
The backstage sound guy accidentally plays the synth opening at 48K rather than 44.1 causing a 1.5 semitone tonal conflict to occur. Eddie and the crew attempt to roll with the microtonal noise but no… it is not meant to be. Somehow I believe new music’s brilliant microtonalist/guitarist Neil Haverstick could have done a lot better.


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As many of you know, we also run a new music wiki here. It’s got lots of user-created content, links to very cool MP3 files through our Listening Room and a lot of lists of performers, and opportunities. Recently we’ve come under attack, not from SpamBots but from a new type of bot which seemingly means only to destroy wikis. We’re not the only one being attacked, but it has seemingly focussed a great deal of attention on our little homebrew music information site.

If you check out the Recent Changes you’ll see auto-generated usernames and very slight random text modifications to a bunch of articles, maybe your article. It’d be really cool if we could get the wiki cleaned up, but for that to happen, it’ll require a few more worker bees than me and David Toub. Please give it a look if you can and remove the random texts. They seem to only preface articles with obviously unreadable words.

And if you haven’t written an article about your favorite contemporary composer, performer and musical technique please add to our wonderful collection of articles. For those that don’t know, the wiki gets a lot of traffic. And please read the Getting Started page before you start writing. We insist that composer pages be not merely self-promoting, but informative. Thanks!!

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Saint SebastianMy father-in-law, Alfred Russell, died a few weeks ago. He was an amazing painter and a really eccentric person. He was one of the hottest Paris/New York abstractionist painters in the 40’s and 50’s. Ad Reinhardt was the best man at his wedding; he got Rothko his first teaching job; was friends/enemies with all the big names but because of his notorious provocateur spirit he never got rich while all of his equals sold their souls to the rich for millions of dollars. A famous article in October Magazine started the trend, when he lamented the ‘easy abstraction’ of the minimalists – mainly poking at Rothko and later Reinhardt.

He was a big modern music fan, amateur flutist and close friend of Edgard Varèse who in a Paris cafe once wrote him a solo flute piece which has never been premiered. I’ve got a mimeograph of it somewhere in a closet he gave me, but we’ve been looking for the original for years to prove it’s legitimacy.

Roberta Smith writes about him today in the New York Times – Alfred Russell, Painter with a Classical Style Dies at 87. Here are a few of his paintings from our site – Works of Alfred Russell. No need to offer condolences…

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RadioheadSo who’s going to help break the back of the mega-music corporations by buying – at any price – at your price – for nothing – a download of the new Radiohead album In Rainbows? I did it this morning and I feel good about it. I’m now promised an email with a download URL for the entire album tomorrow.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the world’s greatest art rock band, their new album is downloadable tomorrow – without the cooperation of any record company. You pay what you want. You can pay $.01. You can pay $10.00 – that’s what I did. They deserve it and I’d like to see this business model work. And get this, they don’t even have a record company any more. They’re supposedly taking bids on who will get their hard copies into the record stores. Have any S21 readers bought the album? How much did you pay?

FWIW, I currently give away for free, all of my albums and scores and as far as I know was the first musician in the world to do that, starting in 1991. I even caused the L.A. Times to write an article about the other Harrington, David, from Kronos, about how he was freaking out the music world by giving away music back in 1995. I had to call them and ask them to issue a retraction.

But the model I’m thinking of switching to for my albums and scores is this – pay what you want. I think it’ll work and at the same time, it’ll keep poor people, poor students, from being discouraged from learning and listening to my music. It’ll mean setting up some type of PayPal system and hiding from the tech-savvy haxxors but I don’t think it’ll be that much trouble. When I get it done, I’ll post an article here about how to do it. We can all use a little money, and this model nicely allows for a hit album to benefit the artist directly and financially. For kids without a credit card I’ll probably implement a questionnaire/honor system, forcing them to describe their deepest fears about music.

However, from where I’m sitting, unlike the rock world, the new music world isn’t burdened by the record companies. It’s burdened by referral networks, academic networks, and critics who refuse to pay attention to the online world. For the new music world to become truly independent, democratic and egalitarian it’ll take this type of new thinking that Radiohead has begun. By selling, even at any price, I believe it’ll create less of the appearance at my website, which is totally natural, that I can’t give this sh*t away. Haha…

Excuse the LOLCAT reference in the title of this article if you don’t get it. 🙂

P.S., the Coen Brothers movie shoot on our street in Brooklyn Heights I mentioned in comments a few weeks ago is finally over. Here’s some pics for anybody that is curious. It was exciting and exhausting. And our garden may never be the same.

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With news that Apple is suing the manufacturers of the iGasm it occurred to me last night that this perhaps was a possible new venue for contemporary music. I brought up the subject with a few friends over beers and the debate began, ‘What piece of avant garde music would be the ideal iGasm driver?’

Steve Reich? Philip Glass? Xenakis? Ferneyhough? The winner at the table seemed to be the genre of noize punk. Driving 200 BMP noise. But who knows? Maybe your music could be a hit at this latest of new music venues extended! What piece of music would drive the adventurous iGasm user into sensory overload?

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