Let’s go to the old mailbag and see what’s happening in the exciting world of new music.  Ah, here’s something.  Our friends at the American Music Center are launching Counterstream Radio, a showcase for new music by U.S. composers, on March 16 at 3 p.m. EST.  To mark the official station launch, Counterstream Radio will broadcast an exclusive conversation between Meredith Monk and Björk.  No word on who gets to wear the chicken suit.

Actually, the station is streaming right now so you don’t have to wait until the 16th to try it out.  Any chance of getting a popup player over here so people can listen while they’re reading S21?  Tech people?

Oh, wow.  On Bach’s 322nd birthday, March 21, 2007, C.F. Peters is celebrating the publication of a new set of variations, 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg, based on the Goldberg Variations theme, with a mini-concert and reception at Steinway Hall.  Blair McMillan will perform six of the twelve variations.  The composers are C. Curtis-Smith, Jennifer Higdon, Mischa Sarche Zupko, Stanley Walden, Bright Sheng, Derek Bermel, David Del Tredici, Fred Lerdahl, William Bolcom, Lukas Foss, Ralf Gothoni, and Fred Hersch.

And then there’s this. The NY Times web site is running a  group blog in March called “The Score” that will include writings by Glenn Branca, Alvin Curran, Michael Gordon and Annie Gosfield. They will also run audio excerpts from an exclusive interview with Steve Reich conducted in February.

In a March 5 piece, Michael Gordon attempts to answer the eternal question faced by all contemporary composers:  What Kind of Music is That Anyway? (My favorite answer–“Post-Ugly”–is attributed to his co-conspirator David Lang.)

Alas, the feature is on TimesSelect, which is a pay service that costs about $8 a month but they have a free two-week trial offer if you want to check it out.  Or, Michael sent me an e-mail copy…nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

10 thoughts on “13 Ways to Listen to Post-Ugly Music”
  1. I love Decasia, too. It’s one of the more moving/disturbing pieces of music I’ve listened to in a long time.

    The video is available on DVD, btw — get it at Amazon. The music works both with and without the visuals, but the visuals are quite amazing in their own right.

  2. Well Alan, I don’t know if it’ll be in your icon-list, as it’s pretty firmly in the minmalist/maximalist camp, all time and texture. It’s Einstein Glass, Reich, Adams, Andreissen; but also Coates and Branca, even whiffs of Feldman, Xenakis and Grisey. And yet it’s none of these; its own object, carving its own distinctive space. It’s a monument, in almost a physical sense.

  3. David Lang and Glenn Branca can get me to yawn sometimes (though in Branca’s case, maybe that’s just me trying to pop my ears…), but I’d never put Alvin Curran, Michael Gordon or Annie Gosfeld into the “post-interesting” category. Gordon especially, for composing what I think will end up becoming one of the iconic works of the early 21st century, Decasia.

  4. I agree, Rodney. But, then again, it looks like we’re the old guys around here.

    Meh. “Beautiful”. “Ugly”. Can’t we move past these adjectives?

    What kind of music is it? How about: “Post-interesting”?

  5. With all due respects to David Lang, I don’t like the post-ugly thing at all. (Not that I imagine my disapproval is anything that’s going to keep him up nights). I read in the program for John Adams’s Prom concert in London last summer something about his disappointment with the “aural ugliness” of Schoenberg’s music. I have to say I was startled by that idea, since it seems to me that most of Schoenberg’s music goes out of its way to be quite beautiful as sound (the two pieces that I think of that don’t are the wind quintet–which is just so timbrally undifferentiated and can leave you feeling like you’ve been hit over the head–and the Ode to Napolean–but I don’t like anything about that piece, so I may well be being prejudiced on that. In any case, I don’t see that it’s any uglier than, say…..well….

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