I don't like reading program notes that were written for a new work. I do enjoy reading program notes written for older pieces (e.g. The creation by Haydn). The obvious difference between the two is that today, the contemporary pieces are written by the living composers and the older pieces are written by someone else (e.g. a musicologist).
The advantage that older music has over new music is the context in which the music was produced. The creation was written between 1796 and 1798. That is a historic fact, and it is the history that will be provided, heavily, to complete the program note.
The composers program note dwell on theory, form, analysis and so forth – bordering the edge of complete boredom. Listeners today are smart, and can follow music, point out the obvious, and criticize. I'm not sure what it is, but many composer believe that they have to “geek” out and provide an excessive amount of information about their piece. I don't mean to generalize, but these things do commonly occur.
I chose this topic today because I have to write my own program notes. Personally, I hate talking about my music (describing its form, aesthetic and etc.) – I rather have the listener experience or hear these things, and if they can not, then I know that my music was not clear, and I have failed as a composer.
Program note for Eru Po ('11)
I revere Beethoven and Chopin. I used to sightread their piano repertoire, and listen to their music for hours. I loved playing their music, but I was an adequate pianist. I would struggle with the tempi and the voicing of chords – even playing forte was difficult. Most of my struggle came from the lack of power and technique I possessed. (I was always shy and nervous.) As the result of my frustration, passion, and impotence - filtered a new expression of their music. This piece embodies that emotion and expressive content I found within my own interpretation of their music. – Kwaumane Brown
Program notes written by Linda Mack: http://tinyurl.com/42c9t8v
Program note written by Phillip Huscher: http://tinyurl.com/3j3ygg5
Gnarly Buttons by John Adams: http://tinyurl.com/6h8tpcu
Thank You for reading,