Living in New York, there is a pressure to be stressed. Stress is a lifestyle. If you are not totally stressed and stretched in every direction, you are most probably not living to the fullest of your potential. People are so, so busy. It is a combination of reality and myth. If you are not that busy, you must at least create the impression of being super-busy by not ever answering the phone. And don’t ever tell anyone how many hours you spend watching TV.

The stress of the living composer is to juggle the small business end of it, i.e. contacts and opportunities, as well as the real business of working with music. Additionally, for those who aren’t so lucky as to be continually commissioned, and there are thousands, juggling some sort of earning activity, which can actually preclude the completion of any serious work.

In the midst of stress, the myth of stress as a lifestyle emerges. Out of the stress comes superficiality. How can one really go deep and fast at the same time? “Faster, faster pussycat…kill, kill!” (title of a classic sixties B movie)…Even music seems to be moving faster. There is pressure to play faster and even tune higher so the cycles themselves are faster (driving up to A442, when Mozart’s A was at 415). People play fast to show off, or because they are excited with the speed, like race-car drivers. We are a speed-thrilled society. Speed and superficiality rule. We are tuning further away from the natural cycles, as global warming progresses and already caused severe weather disturbances.

My musical reaction to this is: a slow moving, stay on one tone kind of piece to heal not only the stress, but the hype placed on stress… then, maybe something else that brings us back to earth.

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