I like to think of myself as a competent composer, someone who writes pieces that work in fundamentally sound ways. But I don’t aspire to competence; some of the notions I chase after take me into unfamiliar terrain and I have to do my best to make them work as well as they can.
As a result, some of my compositions are dogs.
I am very proud of my dogs (though I withdraw them from performance when I can) because they are signs that competence is something I have worked hard to attain without making it my primary aim. I reserve the right to compose a terrible piece in pursuit of valuable goal. One of the reasons I became a composer is because the vastness of music forces me to be an eternal student.
I should add that I defend the right of any listener to hate any piece I write – after all, sometimes I will agree.
On the other hand, just because a piece of music turns out to be a dog doesn’t mean we have to kick it around – scratching it behind the ears is a more generous option.
On a perhaps cheerier note, three performances of my music in the definitely-not-canine category to catch this coming week, in Austin, Louisville and New York:
- March 5: Sonata: Motion. Tim Hagen, flute; Ben Corbin, piano. UT Austin, Butler School of Music
- March 8: Poke. Low and Lower. ASTA National Conference, Louisville KY.
- March 10: What Happened and the NYC premiere of The Voice. Atlantic Ensemble. Symphony Space, NYC.