Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Title Pool
I think it does a great job of examining the history of titling in classical music, while summing up many of the concerns that arise when deciding on titles. For the record, I often use punning titles for my work, or titles with multiple meanings. I think it sends the message that I don't take myself too seriously and I have a sense of humor about my work, which is important to the way I think about music. My favorite title I came up with was "Brazen Overtures" for a brass quintet.
Also, here's to continuing to use this blog as a place for music discussion. I'll definitely be checking it every so often and I hope y'all do so as well!
More than anything else, this class has made me aware of how deeply personal music is for each individual--though the need for music as an expressive and communicative tool is absolutely universal, everyone approaches it in a slightly different way, and this makes it all the richer. The myriad of approaches under a single genre, Western classical music, is formidable. This, to me, is the reason why collaboration is critical to developing and extending the art--as humans, we move from dependency (as children), to independence (as adults), and hopefully to interdependence (as collaborators). The progression of music would do well to mirror this evolution, as we create increasingly rich statements.
I may be in the minority in saying that music as an intellectual pursuit is still valid and thriving; I don't see a necessity for simplicity or universality in classical music, because classical music itself is not universal (nor should it attempt to be). In fact, I see divorcing music from its "natural" (ie. communicative) function as much an art form as that of unifying it with that function is. This stance doesn't suggest that complexity is better than simplicity, simply that it has an equal amount of validity in western classical music. In my own music, I strive to combine them in equal parts according to my taste--subsequently, I don't expect universal appeal. But then, that's the beauty of music--the multiplicity of personal styles, approaches, and genres. I hope that the coming years at Longy expose me to an even wider palate, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store.
I've been thinking especially about the accessibility of classical music over the past few days. It's a topic that comes up with a fair amount of frequency at my job, when I discuss what I do with coworkers. Recently, after inviting a coworker to a performance of opera scenes, I was met with the exclamation, "I've always wanted to see an opera!"
Though I hear this type of response often (and I was happy at her enthusiasm), this made me wonder for a moment. Even in a city like Boston, where classical performances are widely available, I know many people who feel it's inaccessible to them. Granted, a large part of the "I've always wanted to..." answers I hear are probably politeness, but nonetheless, the fact that classical music is a foreign world to many people remains.
It's a feeling I understand--until I was taught music, much of the classical world seemed overwhelming and strange to me (sometimes it still does!)
I'm not sure this is a problem that can be easily or wholly fixed in such a world of consumerist music, as Healing the Rift describes. People listen to music differently now than they did one hundred years ago, and the perception of classical music has changed in part simply because it's difficult to enjoy it in the same manner as popular music. The bigger question is: do we want the way we listen to classical music to change in the name of accessibility?
In the meantime, I'll hope my coworkers really do enjoy the opera!
Thanks, all, for a thought-provoking class.
One of the most important things I learned about this class, however, is how classical musicians need to work together to spread their careers. Encouraging dialogue in which pressing issues are discussed in the field, as done in this course, are gateways to spreading our talent. We also can discuss how we can make our field more accessible to the public. In addition, by communicating with each other about our field we are showing are support for one another, support that we all can rely on. Moreover, by communicating with each other, we open up to ideas of collaborating with one another.
I have learned a significant amount from this course. What I most enjoy about this course, however, is that I will continue to learn from my experiences in this class for years to come.
It had been a while since I felt such a profound sense of community. The last time I was so inspired was when I chose to go into music. I was a high school student and on Saturdays, I was a preparatory student at Mannes, The New School for Music. In addition to lessons in piano, theory, and solfege, all students met in Senior choir at the end of the day. Our director, Matthew Brady, was brilliantly creative and his love for music spread throughout the room like a powdered potion. Before concerts, one of us would always speak about how much the music and the members meant. Sometimes we said a prayer, sometimes we listened to a Tibetan singing bowl, sometimes we had moments of silence, sometimes we read poems. The concerts were spiritual experiences for many of us. Afterwards, we always went out to dinner to share food and memories.
Future of Classical Music has given me the tools to form that community wherever I go for the rest of my life. We must constantly remind ourselves that the element that makes music so powerful is the personal element. We must make an effort to connect to that network of musical minds in order to stay on top of what's relevant, inspire each other, support each other, and perhaps most importantly play for each other. We should all continue to write for a blog and read each others posts. We should continue to share information about our upcoming recitals and attend those of our colleagues. We should never become complacent; always play something new, write something new, and try something new. Perhaps . . . we could sacrifice just one hour every week from our busy schedules, to sit at a single table together, and talk about the world.
Monday, December 3, 2012
The implication of this article is that the answer to the titular question is "yes", but the study was not aimed at answering the question at all. All the study showed is that when there is a conductor, he or she can influence how the orchestra plays, and, the former being true, that better conductors yield better musical results. To answer the question "Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?" would require a control group. How does a professional orchestra sound without any conductor at all?
Luckily for us, some data regarding that question already exists. Groups such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra regularly perform without the assistance of a conductor. In addition to its Grammy Awards, the orchestra has been named to The WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces for six years running. For an orchestra the size of Orpheus (comprising 34 musicians), it is quite clear that a conductor is not necessary.
The question raised by this article is one worth examining, but to call this study scientific proof that orchestras need conductors is to ignore the definition of science. The better question would be "When does an orchestra need a conductor?" - the answer to which I doubt will present itself in numerical form."
Farewell, and cheers to the future of classical music!
Isaiah, I can not think of a better or more relevant final project for this class than our Wikipedia articles. Thank you for the introduction to the musical Wikipedia world, and for pushing us to expand our views of music, of ourselves, and of our role in the world at large as musicians.
Thank you, all!
I believe we have a large responsibility as performers and composers to play and write new music. The 21st century is fast moving and quick to leave people behind. The ugly truth is that we must adapt to this by compromise. Compromising our ideals with what people want to hear is the only way to make it. If we are unable to compromise then we will have a hard time reaching new audiences. I feel this, above all, is the one fatal flaw in all of our training: No one in the Conservatory prepares you for the music business. However; do not blame your teachers. It's not your teachers fault. They are only teaching you the craft - not the way to success.
Success does not come from our heart, our ideas or our talents. It's from the acknowledgement of them by others. This is the 21st century. Do you want to be successful while you are alive or when you are dead? No one says you can't follow what's in your heart, but what's the point of following your heart if no one wants to hear you or even know you? Get someone's attention first then you show them what you got.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Last night, while writing up something bizarre, convoluted, thrilling and questionable for EEP, I was happily interrupted by one of my artistic partners, a choreographer and playwright I've worked with on large-scale chamber ballets as well as 4 minute improvisatory solo dances. In discussing an upcoming project, she shared with me this piece of music, asking me if I was interested in creating something in this spirit for a very personal dance solo she was showing in a few months: