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.
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