Catching Up

The American Music Center has launched Counterstream Radio, billed as a "showcase for new music by United States composers". Check it out.

I want to echo Daniel Wolf's call for music publishers to make study scores available for downloading over the internet at no charge. Mr. Wolf makes a convincing case that any hit the publishers might take on sales of these scores (which wouldn't be all that much) would be made up for in the increased performances and the related performance and mechanical reproduction fees. A few of my scores are posted (in pdf form) at my Classical Lounge page. I'm working on ways to get more of them out there, and am interested in hearing from composers and performers about what works from their repective perspectives.

Not un-related to this is Mr. Wolf's earlier call for those of us with an interest of one kind or another in new concert music to increase the web presence of ourselves and our music:

After having spent too much of the past two weeks monitoring activity in the online new music blogs and fora, I've come to the conclusion that one problem is that we, as a community, are generating simply too little heat: too little new of interest in the way of sounds, scores, or ideas, and too little controversy or passion, and even too little in the way of intellectual challenges. But most of all, through the underwhelmingly small amount of material we present to the world, we're simply giving out the impression that nothing is really happening in little Newmusicville. At this point in time, a new music equivalent of the "Instapundit" could probably get by with a bi-weekly post delivered by burro.
Matthew Guerrieri posts a thoughtful, evocative response to an essay on the atmosphere at performances of concert music by Erika Lange, a student of Greg Sandow. Ms. Lange's essay includes a number of extra-musical suggestions for "add[ing] some spice" to concert music events, including lighting effects, attire, etc. Mr Guerrieri sums up his disagreement:

. . . I finally figured out that it's not about being knocked out of my chair, it's about being able to aurally go up to the music and engage it actively, openly, maybe even foolishly. The more that classical music borrows from popular music, the more the artistic content is skewed in a pop direction: towards sensation and away from contemplation, and more crucially, towards expectation and away from exploration. The most important music is the music we don't yet know that we want. Structuring the presentation along popular lines makes it that much more unlikely that we'll ever find it.

I come upon performers blogs less frequently than I do composers' or crtics' blogs, but when I do I always learn alot about performers' all-important perspective. So it is with soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird's blog. In this post, she links to a discussion by baritone Thomas Meglioranza about the process he goes through to learn complex and/or pantonal pieces. Note the comment by a listener to the effect that this kind of inside knowledge is valuable to his experience with music.

Adam Baratz has a quote from Jon Brion (composer of some of my favorite film scores):

The truth of the matter is, most rock bands are classical musicians and they don’t know it. Because it’s "This song starts with this drumbeat, at this time; halfway through, the guitar comes in, playing this part, with all down strokes on the fifth, with a clean sound; at this point you turn on your distortion and you play the barre chord, and then it’s muted at this point . . ." And every time they play the song, it’s the same thing. That’s classical music!

Actually, it's my experience that there is far more of this particular form of anality in the rock/pop world than there is in concert music. Stories of rock/pop performers wanting the concert to sound just like the record are legion, while it is very rare for (especially experienced) concert music performers not to try new things during a performance, even if they've played a piece hundreds of times.

The Standing Room offers this observation:

Snobbishness is not the opposite of ignorance; in fact, I would argue that they share space on the same side of the coin.

Finally, if you are thinking of getting me a gift, I'd really like to have this.


  1. I think it's the audience/fans who want live rock music to sound just like the recording. It is, after all, how they first hear it and how they subsequently hear it ad nauseum either on the radio or, more likely now, their iPods. Fans pay big bucks for concert tickets and while they might not mind hearing some new tunes, they certainly want to hear the old ones, just as they have always heard them, only louder.

  2. That's certainly true, but Don Hneley (for one) is known for his fanaticism in wanting the "live" "performance" to sound just like the record.