Boston Bound

On Thursday I’m travelling to Boston, one of my favorite cities and a place I haven’t had occasion to visit in far too long. On Friday and Saturday, I’m moderating a two-day event organized by East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE) and held at the Goethe-Institut that features composer Hanspeter Kyburz  (details here). He will be lecturing and leading workshops with a small group of emerging composers. ECCE will give a Kyburz Portrait Concert on Saturday evening. If you are a reader from Boston, I hope that you will try to make the concert and, if possible, some of the other festival events: it would be great to see you there!

Schedule of Events (all events take place at the Goethe-Institut Boston)

Open Composer Workshops:
Friday, September 21, 9am – 12pm
Saturday, September 22, 9am – 12pm

Open Rehearsal:
Friday, September 21, 3-5pm

Lecture Presentation by Hanspeter Kyburz:
Saturday, September 22, 6:45pm

Portrait Concert:
Saturday, September 22, 8pm

Networking reception following the concert sponsored by swissnex Boston.

3/4: Babbitt Conference Presentation at Wright State University

The Wright State University Music Department will be hosting a Colloquium/Concert on March 3-4, 2012, entitled The Legacy of Milton Babbitt: Post-WWII Serialism in the Americas. Andrew Mead will be the  keynote speaker and Winston Choi the guest performer. I’m very excited to be participating in the session below, which will occur on Sunday morning. My work For Milton, a duo for flute and piano, will appear on the PNM/OS CD release.

Roundtable Discussion

For Milton Babbitt: a Memorial Recording


Andrew Mead (University of Michigan)

Robert Morris (Eastman School of Music)

Benjamin Boretz (Bard College)

James Romig (Western Illinois University)

Ashlee Mack (Knox College)

Christian Carey (Westminster Choir College)

Abstract: A number of Milton Babbitt’s compositions are occasional works. Some, such as My Complements to Roger and Swan Song No. 1, dedicated, respectively, to Babbitt’s teacher Roger Sessions and to the Cygnus Ensemble, are affirmative in nature, celebrating special occasions or thanking stalwart performers of Babbitt’s music. On the other hand, A Solo Requiem, dedicated to Godfrey Winham, commemorates the memory of a departed friend.

This roundtable discussion includes some of the contributors to a new set of CD recordings commemorating Milton Babbitt. Perspectives of New Music and Open Space Magazine are releasing it in collaboration. Some, such as Odds and Ends, by Robert Morris, were written while Babbitt was still alive, as birthday greetings and other tributes. But a number of the pieces included on the CDs have been composed since Babbitt’s passing, as musical remembrances.

Most of the participants are composers who contributed pieces to the recording: Ms. Mack is a pianist who recorded several of the works. Several have also studied with or written about Babbitt. The participants will talk about the genesis of the Babbitt PNM/OSM recording project. In addition to discussing some of the pieces on the recording, they will describe the affinities between their own creative processes and Babbitt’s compositional work. Finally, they will talk about Babbitt’s legacy as a teacher and theorist.


The CDs will contain many pieces composed in honor of Milton Babbitt, on the occasion of his passing. The release also includes a book containing all scores, notes on the music by the composers, and several essays about aspects of Milton Babbitt’s presence. This will be mailed along with the CD album as a special supplement to PNM 49/2 and will also be mailed as Special Issue 14 of The Open Space Magazine. They may also be purchased separately at the websites of PNM and OSM (information below).

Perspectives of New Music ( is directed to a readership consisting of composers, performers, scholars, and all others interested in any kind of contemporary music. Published material includes theoretical research, analyses, technical reports, position papers by composers, sociological and philosophical articles, interviews, reviews, and, for special purposes, short musical scores or other creative productions.

OPEN SPACE Publications, and THE OPEN SPACE MAGAZINE ( are output from a community for people who need to explore or expand the limits of their expressive worlds, to extend or dissolve the boundaries among their expressive-language practices, to experiment with the forms or subjects of thinking or making or performing in the context of creative phenomena.

MTSMA Conference this Week

I’ll be presenting a paper at the Music Theory Society of the Middle Atlantic’s Annual Conference in Washington DC later this week (details here and abstract below). If any readers are attending, let me know: I’d be glad to catch up.

MTSMA 2011 Annual Conference

Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19

George Washington University

Saturday, 10:45-11:45 Pedagogy—Old and New
Mark Janello, Peabody Conservatory (of the Johns Hopkins University),

Abstract: Shapey’s Worksheet as a Pedagogical Resource

Christian Carey, Westminster Choir College of Rider University

From 1981 until his death in 2002, Ralph Shapey repeatedly employed serial procedures in his compositions. Rather than using a 12X12 matrix, Shapey employed a 6X12 array he called the Mother Lode Worksheet. Patrick Finley has pointed out the worksheet’s connection to common practice tonality; principally in its voice leading and in Shapey’s use of it to derive unorthodox non-tonal yet regularly articulated cadences. Joseph Straus accentuates the 12-tone aspects of its design, delineating its partitioning into tetrachords and the array’s near symmetry. Thus, the Mother Lode bears out Shapey’s own statements about his compositional practice combining both “radical” (12-tone) and “traditional” (tonal) elements.

After several decades of teaching at the University of Chicago, Shapey created a primer outlining his approach to composition pedagogy. The Basic Course in Music Composition doesn’t employ the Mother Lode Worksheet. But many of its approaches to manipulating both pitch and rhythm reflect the construction and deployment of the Mother Lode.

Given its flexibility, the worksheet can be a useful pedagogical resource in a variety of contexts. This paper explores three brief lesson ideas that employ the worksheet. It’s presented alongside exercises from the Basic Course in a composition class, in a theory lecture discussing serial transformations and post-tonal voice leading, and in an applied composition lesson as an example of a compositional space and an entry point for a student to learn to organize precompositional materials in a “worksheet” format.