Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Does Your Music Represent?

Sarah's last post addresses the difficulty of creating a title for a piece of music.  Since titles often illuminate what music is about, I'm going to discuss a somewhat related topic: the issue of whether or not music can represent extra-musical ideas and/or evoke emotion.  My answer, in a nut-shell, is that it can...just don't expect specifics!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Title of this Post*

If you’re a composer out there who has ever had trouble thinking of a good title (or any title) for a recently finished piece, raise your hand.  If you’re not raising your hand, please contact me immediately and tell me your secrets.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is the Specialty Concert a Necessary Evil?

In continuing our discussion of gender in the composition world, I want to address the specialty concert.  You probably know what I'm talking about--the concert that specifically features the music of one demographic.  For example, recently I went to a choral concert that was programmed as a celebration of female composers and poets.  There are concerts that feature the music of other minority groups in composition, but for now I'm going to focus on the gendered concert, since it fits in well with our current discussion.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Sexist Elephant

Author’s Note: This post contains excerpts from a study I conducted in 2009. While some of the data is several years old, I believe it is still relevant to our current situation. I must apologize, though, because many of my data sources are no longer available on the Internet. If you are interested in learning more about the study or reading the full paper (with complete bibliography), please contact me here.

In her last post, Natalie asked where all the women composers are. I'm going to address the question of why there seem to be so few of us.

In discussing issues of gender and composers, we tend to dance around the issue of sexism. Instead, I'm just going to come out and say it: I believe there is sexism in the world of composition.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where Are the Female Composers?

Author's Note:  Too often we shy away from discussing gender bias in the field of composition.  We are silent for many reasons, including the fact that we don’t want to upset the countless teachers and peers who have been supportive to us and who have never displayed any sort of prejudice.  Please know that this discussion is about an ingrained culture and we are forever grateful to those who support us and treat us fairly. 

As female composers, none of us want to come off as “whiners,” “victims,” etc.  Nor do we want to feel that our achievements are due to affirmative action or, even worse, sexuality.  In her last post, Sarah shared an important quote by Jill Halstead that addresses a fallacy that composers, male and female alike, reference far too often: the idea that if a female composer’s music is really strong it will speak for itself. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Competition Winners and Gender: What's Up with That?

Like most young composers I know, I apply to composition competitions, awards, festivals, etc. all the time.  I have a lot to say on the subject of these competitions, but today I want to talk about the gender breakdown of the winners. Specifically, that time and again, it seems that a disproportionate number of winners are male.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

RIP, Milton Babbitt

A few articles on the great composer Milton Babbitt:

January 31, 2011:
The Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith:  On the Death of Milton Babbitt at 94

January 29, 2011:

Sequenza21:  Milton Babbitt, RIP

January 29, 2011:

The New York Times, Allan Kozinn: Milton Babbitt, a Composer Who Gloried in Complexity, Dies at 94

January 29, 2011: Milton Babbitt (1916-2011)