Archive for the “Websites” Category

The common plight of the self-publisher is the issue of distribution. Sure, we all have access to professional-grade notation software and binding equipment but these tools do not help us get our work into the hands of performers nor do these tools help us find potential interested groups and expand our music into the larger world. The internet has been a boon for distributing other self-developed media, be it Bandcamp, Tunecore, CD Baby, Soundcloud, Vimeo, or YouTube. In recent years similar sites have been popping up to assist with the distribution of printed materials. Lulu.com is marketed towards self-published authors and provides storefront tools for selling any bound printed materials. Music is certainly possible on this site but two sites are interested in selling their services to self-published composers. The publishing firm JW Pepper launched its “MyScore” service about a year ago and more recently the site ScoreStreet.net has popped up to offer a similar service: give composers a place to distribute and sell their scores with the promise of reaching a larger audience.

MyScore and ScoreStreet both describe their services as ways to get your music to more people with less hands-on fuss. Each place takes over the printing and shipping of printed material, both offer digital sales, and neither site requires an exclusive contract with them. In other words, if you want to put some of your scores up on MyScore, some on ScoreStreet, and see which one works best for you then you are encouraged to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Picture courtesy of Q2 Music

Sometimes, classical music gets a bad rap. To be perfectly honest, there is a chunk of the population that finds it to be synonymous with any number of derogatory terms: boring, annoying, or pompous.  Some classical music lovers and advocates will counter this popular belief with arguments that only go to further the opinion of the other side: “Some people want to listen to mindless music”, “Some people simply don’t have patience”, etc. These ridiculous arguments only go to further the stereotype that classical music lovers are all pompous windbags who believe themselves to be uniquely educated and informed.

How, then, do we get people to forget their misconception, and believe that EVERYONE can enjoy or even love classical music, regardless of education, socioeconomic standing, or profession?

It all comes down to how classical music is presented; and now, for a limited time,  you could join one organization that does it right.

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My article today in Musical America reviews the NY Philharmonic’s Contact! Concert on 12/16 at the Met Museum. While I enjoyed the music – hearing HK Gruber perform Frankenstein!! was a particular treat –  I took issue with the announcement at the event of Alan Gilbert being awarded Columbia University’s Ditson Prize, which recognizes a conductor for his advocacy for American composers. This season, the Contact! series includes only one American: Elliott Carter. It’s a far cry from their inaugural season just two years ago, when they featured Sean Shepherd, Nico Muhly, Arlene Sierra, and others. Perhaps Maestro Gilbert will take the opportunity of being acknowledged for past programming decisions to reinvest future seasons of Contact! with a commitment to emerging American composers.

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Turkish pianist Seda Röder has been around these parts more than a few times; sometimes for her wonderful playing and sometimes for her wonderful podcasts. Now an Associate at Harvard, since coming over to the U.S. in 2007 (after graduating the Mozarteum in Salzburg) Seda has been a bit of a whirlwind when it comes to new music. Not content to take the standard performer’s trajectory, Seda gives almost equal measure to not onlyconcertizing, but also informing and promoting on behalf of the lesser-known — both newer and older — corners of modern classical music.  Of course, in one of the corners most dear to her lies the work of living Turkish composers, a corner most of us have never paid any attention to.

Now Seda has taken a pretty big step on the way to rectifying that gap in our awareness: first, with the release of her new CD Listening to Istanbul, a collection of six newly-commissioned piano works by Turkish composers both established and emerging; and second, through a marvellous accompanying website that amplifies the CD and the works on it with all kinds of extra information, background, notes and interviews with the composers themselves.

Here composer Tolga Tüzün talks about his work Permanence:

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…Though it never really closed… Started around 1998 in upstate New York by a small group of musicians including Benjamin Boretz, Mary Lee Roberts and Arthur Margolin, The Open Space was conceived as print and online magazine venture and CD publisher dealing with contemporary music as “…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. We want to create a hospitable space for texts which, in one way or another, might feel somewhat marginal — or too ‘under construction’ — for other, kindred publications.”

Given that they may have jumped into the pool just a tad early web-wise, and given the loose nature of of the project along with the busy and evolving schedules of the editors, The Open Space has tended to offer up things in spurts; the print magazine’s last issue was from late 2009, and the website languished for quite a while. Still, as befits an “open space” there has always been a very interesting accumulation of various article, scores, recordings and sound files available on their site, well worth a contemporary musician’s time to sift through. You can order CD recordings and back copies of the print magazine right from the site, as well.

Just last year, composer Dean Rosenthal signed on to get the purely digital webmagazine up and running again, and Dean’s happy to announce the first “issue” is online and available. The current form is a collection of contributions from various composers, of streaming recordings/video of selected works, some coupled with notes and scores of the piece. First offerings include such outside-the-mainstream luminaries as Michael Pisaro, Henry Gwiazda, Richard Coldman and Howard Skempton and others. And of course Dean is always happy to recieve submissions from you composers/performers out there, so why not give it a shot and help populate that open space with even more art and exploration!

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Received a blurb from the LA Phil the other day, which in all caps proudly declares “LA PHIL LAUNCHES MICROSITE CELEBRATING INCOMING MUSIC DIRECTOR GUSTAVO DUDAMEL“  … Kaboom!… Here’s the relevant bit (my bolds):

On September 24, 2009, the LA Phil launched a microsite celebrating the arrival of incoming Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. Introducing audiences worldwide to Gustavo in new and engaging ways, the comprehensive microsite, located at http://www.laphil.com/gustavo, features videos such as Gustavo’s first rehearsal with the YOLA Expo Center Youth Orchestra, the LA Phil’s video tribute “Welcome Gustavo,” and the press conferences unveiling Gustavo’s inaugural season and appointment as 11th Music Director of the LA Phil.  Visitors can also take a multimedia journey through Gustavo’s life with tiling photographs, video and biographical text.  The latest Gustavo-related news and newly recorded audio and video content will be added to the microsite as Gustavo’s exciting inaugural season progresses.

The Gustavo microsite prominently features a brand-new interactive online game and iPhone application, Bravo Gustavo, designed by Hello Design to simulate the experience of conducting an orchestra.  The Bravo Gustavo online game invites users to interact with Gustavo and the LA Phil performing Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique (music courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon).  The Bravo Gustavo iPhone application adapts the mobile device into a conducting baton, utilizing the accelerometer to directly affect the overall tempo and note duration of the music – just like a real conductor.

Wow, conductor as new “my best friend forever”, and it seems like the only thing missing from the package is the action figure. I suppose if the classical world had been cool enough to do a “Bravo Herbert” or “Welcome Antal” back in the day, the crowds would never have left.

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open space

Some years back I stumbled across The Open Space website, a creation of Perspectives of New Music stalwart Benjamin Boretz. PoNM was one of those forbidding obstacles every composition student of the 60s, 70s and 80s had to traverse and come to terms with; a journal more like a fair-sized paperback book, seemingly filled with discussions of Babbitt, Boulez, Webern, Carter, terrifyingly dense theories of pitch-class, set theory & etc. — many of us felt like we budding composers were suddenly expected to be quantum physicists rather than simply artists… Yet tucked into many issues might also be some nugget from the likes of Roger Reynolds or J.K. Randall, that read more like pure poetry; conceptual play that seemed light-years removed from the normal run of PoNM article.

Being up there on the masthead most of the journal’s life, Boretz’s name seemed to put him firmly in the “uptown theory” group. But what our young eyes couldn’t see for the forest was that his influence was one of the main reasons those other, more intuitive and free-form articles were studded amongst the hard theory. Boretz the artist has always nurtured a deep interest in a more purely “humanistic” brand of musical thinking and creation, which only became more pronounced as the years have passed.

As a more personal outlet for these interests Boretz, along with fellow composers J.K Randall and Elaine Barkin, in 1999 began The Open Space. Not only to get their own works to a wider audience, but to offer a diverse group of contributors a place and publication to run parallel or even counter to the standard PoNM fare. A glance through the contents of current and back issues of The Open Space Magazine will show a nicely bewildering variety of both contributors and subjects.

While The Open Space has had a web presence for ten years, it’s really been an afterthought to the physical magazine, CDs & etc.  But that’s changing starting now: composer Dean Rosenthal is taking over the helm of  the semi-languishing The Open Space Webmagazine, a fully online and independent branch of the larger Open Space. In Dean’s own words, the webmagazine will be “devoted to interaction and community that extends the breadth and reach of our print journal. The web magazine is a forum for actualizing content like interactive web art, experimental video, articles including audio, video, or other supplements, and related endeavors to encourage a multivalent culture that is possible only beyond print.”

The call for submissions is out; to learn more you only need to e-mail Dean (contact@deanrosenthal.org) with your idea or to receive more information.

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Up and running for a few weeks now, The Cereal List blog/website attempts to goose the arse of the always-just-a-little-too-sacrosanct classical music world. Run by the shadowy “Milton Blabber”, “Randall Scandall” and “Miss Information”, the blog’s posts have their share of flats mixed with a few good sharps. Though some jabs have veered just this side of awful or even libel, when they get it right, with such gems as “Generate a New York Times Review of your Work“, they’re pretty spot on. My current fave though, has to be “How to Design a Classical Music CD Cover”:

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Whoever they may be, and as low as they may occasionally go, it’s obvious that these are people who are definitely active  in “the scene” and know their target intimately. It may not be the first place I’m going to check each morning, but I don’t see much wrong with trying to knock a few bricks off the Temple of Art.

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