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.
I'm done with the semester. I need not return to my office until August unless I really want to (and I don't). This semester was particularly roller-coasterish. The composition degree was put in "abeyance" in early March, meaning that the crop of interested students were having their degree plans aborted by the administration. Well, in early April, based solely on these composers' music, the administration reinstated the comp degree. And they decided to un-cancel Composition I.
My teaching load is going through the roof. In addition to the 3 classes I was scheduled to teach I'm now teaching Comp I (which is full and was pretty much full 3 days after it was restored) in addition to 3 new composition majors, all with tremendous potential and skill. I volunteered to take on this much teaching since it was either that or no composition instruction at all.
So, I've been thinking back to my own composition instruction. Charles Hoag, now retired from KU, was my teacher. I studied comp with a few others before I went to KU, but Hoag was the first that really made any kind of impact on me. One year, I compiled a list of his sayings. Here is a short version of the list. It gives you some idea of my own pedagogy, which frightens me more than you might think.
The Quotable Hoag
“Whoa! Scared of that!”
“...which is why you have retained me at great expense...”
“You will go into the library with gun and camera...”
“Clear as mud?”
Pot of Jack- (noun) French for “jackpot”
“Shuck and bop”- (verb) doing your own musical thing (i.e. “shuck and bop all over the National Anthem.”)
“...was a pinko from the word ‘go.’”
“The last of the crusty old men.”
“It is safe to say that awkward voice-leading doth a style make.”
“Boy, those cellists always think they know where the fish are.”
“The Dead have Mossy Wings?? That is an image I would rather not have, thank you very much.”
“Yeah, you musicology types think Brahms is new music.”
Stravinsky’s Le Noces:
“This piece is Orff-ly familiar.”
“You see, not everything that Schoenberg did was wrong!”
“The great thing that Schoenberg had that Hitler did not was that Schoenberg was not crazy.”
“Sometimes I’d like to go back in time and break Beethoven’s hands with hammers. And I’d do it out of sheer professional jealousy...”
“You know, those historians like to say that Beethoven ‘didn’t have a lot of melodic gift.’ Boy, I’d sure like to ‘not have a melodic gift’ like that!”
“A bad libretto is like bone disease.”
“More wrist, less ass!”
Tristan und Isolde:
“Wagner knew that the key to musical eroticism was putting the resolution off until the last possible moment.”
“Yeah, that vintage age jazz is too old for me, which makes me happy.”
Supporting the arts:
“Somebody had to go out and shoot the bear so someone else can stay back and draw on the cave.”
“I’ve met a lot of nutcases from Petaluma, California.”
“I wouldn’t retire to Benington, Va, but it is a good place to buy socks.”
“Russia was not famous for movie technology.”
the Diminished Major 7:
“That’s a heavy chord.”
the double dotted quarter note:
“...is the greatest thing since axle grease.”
“Here is a barrel. In it are fish. Here is a gun. Shoot the fish.”
“I don’t need a page full of melodies, just give me one that sounds like Pucinni...”
“You write it and I tell you how bad it is...that’s my job. No fair you guys cutting down your own music, what the hell am I here for?”
“You can change it ‘til the cows come home and it’s still going to suck.”
“Just finish the damned thing!”
Music in General:
“There is something wrong with all the music out there...except maybe Brahms.”