There’s a trend that continues to thrive in today’s visual arts world, and though it had some legs in music composition in the 1950s and 60s, it now seems downright unfashionable: Bluntly put, it’s called outsourcing the grunt work. It’s really not that uncommon to find artists who never lift a paintbrush, like Jeff Koons who employs a team of artisans to execute his oversized canvases and tchotchkes. Composers, on the other hand, seem to be involving themselves more than ever in the process of creating and producing work. Note the rise of the composer-performer paradigm over the past couple decades. I’m wondering if the new music scene has some kind of collective control issue?
It’s time to let go, people. Loosen those collars and write a nonsensical graphic score. Give it to your favorite musician to interpret, don’t intervene, and see what happens. Okay, you don’t have to go that far if you’re not game, but I do wonder why passing the workload to the performer went by the wayside. Was it all just a phase, or are there still folks out there creating ambiguously notated pieces that are open to interpretation? I’ve definitely done my fair share of pieces in this vein, and my interest has been piqued by the work of Andre Vida, but there’s got to be more of you out there putting your trust in the players, right? Give us a shout-out, and let us know about your work.