Archive for July, 2008

Randy Nordschow wrote the following at NMBx in late June :

“The work I’ve created up to this point spurs from a rather skeptical aesthetic standpoint, fostered by a barrage of things I just don’t buy into, such as: Music has the ability to communicate something “meant” by its creator; music is inherently emotional; yada, yada, yada—you know, stuff like that.

For me, music is a byproduct of artistic ideas haphazardly materialized in the form of vibrating air. It’s the artistic impetus behind the will to set those vibrations into motion, and not necessarily the sonic results of whatever is written on the page (or not), that matters more to me. There’s a certain amount of artistic cynicism that I harbor in order to tap into the concepts and materials that I use and the ways in which I use them when throwing together a new composition. Yes, it’s all so self-aware and postmodern, which I actually enjoy.

[Recently, though,] I was half-swayed to drop my attitude, so to speak, when it comes to my approach to composition. Where to go from here? Well, I was thinking of trying to write a piece without an ounce of irony. This, I’m sure, will be easier typed than done.”

Amen to his last sentence – it’s damn hard to make each note count.

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What musical features engage you?

Our era exalts the idea of mass approval, mass appeal.   Yet even though we recognize  Rodney King’s  genial entreaty “Can’t we all get along?” as nice in theory,  it  does disappear in practice.  

Making choices  is not  a betrayal. When we get right down to what items are on any single  listener’s playlist of  favorites  (‘can’t-do-withouts’),  there are all sorts of cut-outs operating to arrive at  those very selections.    It can only be  a positive that  composers and listeners possess a developed sense of self, even as they remain open – wisely – to explore within an infinity of options.  

My  personal  threshold is pretty high.  But I know that if a piece misses my expectations in  basic ways  I’ll turn aside – and fast.   

What do I expect from a piece?  

  • It requires active, not passive, listening.
  • It is  ‘fresh’ in some way — let the composer spin convention, even if just a  little bit.    
  • It is  genuine. 
  • The music conveys,  somehow, that the composer cares about the notes.
  • And, preferably, the music does not give up  its  entire essence on a single hearing.

What frames your listening?

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