Thursday, April 27, 2006

Composing New Music

Often, when I awake there is what I consider a first thought for my day. These generally are thoughts that are so laden with a question and meaning that I roll them around in my head throughout the day. Today that thought relates to my work as a composer. When I was interviewing at Columbia this past winter, there was a lecture given by Mark Applebaum, about his work. It was essentially an expose on what he does and thinks as a composer and I was very intrigued by his thoughts. One that has stuck with me is, (and I paraphrase) “I can’t write music without connecting it to something out side of the music world.” For me, the basic idea that he was driving at (or what I may be projecting) was that he draws metaphorical inspiration and often content and ideas from things other than music and his logic was, “for me writing music that is not connected to outside systems is boring” (once again I paraphrase and mildly misremember) I really like this idea (hence the resonance of those words several months later) and it is the crux of what I believe I do and strive to do as an artist. I view my compositions as philosophical and political statements. For me, the act of composition combines my observations of and my stance on issues of the day. I find that my interest pushes me to do research, often outside and sometimes within the field of “music” How I translate my observations and those of others that I collect via research makes it reflective of my interests. How the music is derived and how it is written (weather it leaves room for performers to make decisions or not) is where the political stance comes in. I view my job as a composer as organizing a series of sound, visual and theatrical events. Historically composers have dictated what the performers should do and the areas that are not prescribed by the composer generally have a heritage of “accepted and expected performance practices.” My vision is to empower performers to make decisions based on their strengths, while providing a “bottom line” set of expectations. beyond the purely musical suggestions, I see an opportunity to model and incorporate ideas of other disciplines. For instance, how could the dynamics of board room meeting translate into sound. And on another level, what type of board would I choose, Green Peace or Enron and what parameters do I choose as generators for music parameters. Finally, in what ways do I alter it, according to my beliefs. Hence it is political stance. This way of approaching composition and art for that matter is by no means my creation, it has been in existence for a great deal of time, rather this is my coming to terms with these concepts that Mark highlighted verbally and that Bob Cogan patiently and skillfully presented to me.

This is of course nothing new, all artists of note are reflective of the zeitgeist of the era, which is generally ahead of the publics cognizant recognition of that theme. What I believe is important in this era are the reduction of or atleast the obscuring of lines between disciplines. This cross pollination is what is important about work today and where I am interested to playing.


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