Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time in the Real World

Last week I was reminded why it’s so important, both as a composer and as a human being, to have a real life. All I did was go to a great exhibit at an art museum. I know this isn’t earth-shattering, but I hadn’t done something like that in a long time. I’ve been extremely busy lately with various projects (both musical and non-musical), and have been feeling the pressure of these projects so much so that I haven’t actually been doing anything that isn’t related to them. Re-reading that last sentence, it doesn’t seem all that odd that I haven’t been doing anything else, since isn’t that what most people’s lives are like? Go to your job, come home, go about your routine, et cetera.

And then I read some old comments on our blog, and I found this one (which is a comment on this post), thanks to our commenter HKL:
“… experiencing life outside the studio, even when we aren't producing art, also contributes to our artistic life (is this a little bit of a cop-out? maybe, but I also think it's true...)."
I don’t think it’s a cop-out at all. Every time I experience “life outside the studio” (which, I suppose, should be every day but sadly, isn’t always), I am reminded how great it is to get outside (both literally and figuratively).  My emotional, physical, and yes, artistic well-being depends on it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Demystifying the Composer

Our culture has a long tradition of having a deep love/hate relationship with artists of all types. It often seems that the composer, be him idolized or scorned, is very rarely taken seriously as a normal human. Moreover, people will sometimes create a compositional mystique by encouraging stereotypes, being Romantic or evasive about the creative process, etc. Unfortunately, none of these behaviors do any of us any favors. I think it’s incredibly important for all of us to remember, if we don’t already, that the composer is—gasp—a working human who has flaws.

I'm going to share two anecdotes of ways in which composers and/or authority figures unnecessarily create some sort of composer “mystique.” I will then explain why I think these anecdotes offer examples of why such a mystique is fundamentally detrimental to the compositional process.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy October Birthdays!

What's more fun than celebrating your own birthday? Celebrating other people's birthdays! Well, maybe not really... but we've decided to start highlighting composers during their birth months. Many cool composers were born in October- way too many to list in one blog post, so we're starting off our inaugural birthday month with three of our favorite composers: George Crumb, Steve Reich, and Kaija Saariaho. We hope you'll take a minute to discover these living composers if you haven't already or to enjoy listening to their music again if you're already familiar with them.

George Crumb's Makrokosmos I:

Kaija Saariaho's Petals:

The beginning of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians: