Performer Blogs@Sequenza21.com

Jay C. Batzner is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida where he teaches theory, composition, and technology courses as well as coordinates the composition program. He holds degrees in composition and/or theory from the University of Missouri Kansas City, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kansas.

Jay's music is primarily focused around instrumental chamber works as well as electroacoustic composition. His music has been recorded on the Capstone, Vox Novus, and Beauport Classical labels and is published by Unsafe Bull Music.

Jay is a sci-fi geek, an amateur banjoist, a home brewer, and juggler.





3/13/2006
Know Thy Audience

I've been having a "manifesto comparison" discussion with an old buddy of mine named Matt. Allow me to oversimplify my misunderstanding of his point: He wants to be entertained by good stories. He doesn't buy into the notion of artists asking HIM to put a lot of effort into understanding their creations. In other words, he is not a fan of David Lynch movies. And he clearly chooses Casablanca over the writings of Umberto Eco.

Matt is, among other things, a writer. The majority of his professional work is role-playing adventure materials for Dungeons and Dragons. He does some creative writing just for himself and I haven't seen anything recently to comment on it. I submit that part of Matt's attitude towards the arts/entertainment continuum is based on his professional writing for a very specific audience. When Matt is making D&D supplements, he has a pretty good idea who is going to be perusing and purchasing such materials. I, on the other hand, don't.

When I write a piece I am not really considering "the audience." I can't. Who is in this audience? Is it blue-hairs? Is it fellow composers? Is it elementary school kids? Is it people who want to hear my music? Do they NOT want to hear it? I can't compose for people who may or may not be listening.

I focus on my means of expression. I do try to write music that communicates my expression, though. Whether that expression is successfully communicated is really not my concern. I can only do so much. The audience HAS to do something. If they don't and, therefore, don't "get" my piece, then I'm okay with that. I think the most important thing to do in art is to try. If I'm happy at the end of it all, that is all that really matters.

I've had people criticize my works based on their misunderstanding of my piece. Am I supposed to react to that? If they didn't understand my piece is it my failing or theirs? It depends on the piece. And depends on the person talking. Generally, I want people to react to my music. Positive or negative makes almost no difference.

So, if people dislike Matt's supplements, he may take it more personally than I do if people dislike my music. Maybe this is a distancing tactic for me. A way to protect myself from criticism. But it seems to be working.