Saturday, April 23, 2011

Composing a Better World, Part I: Oh no... We discuss politics.

Introducing part one of our new debate series: How can we, as composers, make the world a better place?

Sarah: Since I wrote about Nicholas D. Kristof in my introduction post, let's start out with politics. Can we write political music that might actually make a difference, and if so, how? Considering most music is fairly abstract, without a text or some other representational indicator, I find it difficult to label a piece as advocating for something or promoting a cause. Personally, I've never really tried to write anything overtly political, although I did once write a feminist piece- but it had a text. Natalie, what do you think?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Composing a Better World?

When Natalie and I started this blog about five months ago, one of the questions we asked was what we, as composers, are doing to make the world a better place. I've been thinking indirectly about this question a lot lately, as I ponder (with so far, not many results) what I'm going to do next in terms of my career. I tend to be a bit dramatic with this whole, "what should I do with my life" question, but I do feel strongly that whatever I end up doing, I'd like to at least try to somehow make the world a better place, even if it's in a really small way. 

As a demographic, do composers make the world a better place? And if so, what do we do? Individually, I hope many (if not all) composers do things to make the world better in some facet of their lives. But are these things, whatever they are, accomplished through composing? I'm sure some of us volunteer at animal shelters or soup kitchens, donate our time to Habitat for Humanity, mentor at-risk youth, or merely spend time with our families and friends, which (almost) always makes the world better. But those activities, while extremely important, don't have much to do with our careers as composers. What can we do through composing that makes the world better? Should we even be worrying about this? (Answer: Absolutely, I think we should worry about it, but that's just my opinion.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Frugal Composer, Part Deux

Several weeks ago, Natalie posted about The Frugal Composer. Recognizing the difficulties inherent in actively pursuing a career as a composer in our current economic climate, we have put together a list of resources for the frugal composer. We will continually add to this list, and if you have suggestions or know of resources that aren't listed, please let us know! Our goal is to make this a comprehensive resource for anyone in the arts who is trying to save money.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Avoiding the Compositional Vacuum

Sarah’s last post had me reflecting for a long time about the balancing act that composers have to pull off on a regular basis. Somehow we have to compartmentalize parts of our life in order to be productive and energized for the moments (insert the Hallelujah chorus here) when we actually find the time and space to sit down and work on our music. 

For me, though, it’s not just about finding the time, it’s also about the people involved. I used to compose music on a regular basis without much feedback or without anybody particularly in mind. However, since going to school for composition and experiencing the dramatic increase in learning that happens when you actually hear your music realized, I now have trouble getting excited about projects that aren’t going to be performed. There is possibly nothing worse for a composer than composing in a vacuum. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The 40 Hour a Week Composer

As I lay on my bed this afternoon after I got home from work, exhausted as usual, I thought about what it would be like if my full-time, 40 hour a week job was actually composing. Think about how much work I’d get done!  Does anyone actually compose as if it’s their full time job?