Communal Experimentalism in the Sixties: The Pulsa Group

Serge Tcherepnin, brainwave experiments at Harmony Ranch, 1970

As a group dedicated to exploring “perceptible wave energies” through light and sound, Pulsa created art and music that not only made group collaborations audible and palpable, but they also reminded their audiences and participants—through light and sound—that actions have effects.

Complex but Emotional—Remembering Ursula Mamlok (1923-2016)

Ursula Mamlok at the piano (Photo by Simon Pauly)

I met Ursula Mamlok when she was in her early 70s, and initially I didn’t know how to define her. Who was she? Coming from Colombia, where I had only heard about one other woman composer of classical music before me, I didn’t realize—in all its dimensions—what it would mean for me to study with her. It took me a long time to realize the levels of her strength.

Creation is Messy

Record release show for Gretta Harley's Element 115 (Uup) featuring Mettle. (Photo by ML Naden)

Creation is messy. Artistic inspiration without the mess (and an incredible amount of work and planning) will never see the light of day. Our finished work is only as good as it is because of the untidy part. Art needs us to bravely embrace our inner slob, even though most of us prefer a little primping before going outside.

Interview with Daniel Spreadbury of Dorico

Dorico-5

Daniel Spreadbury talks about his work in open source and web standards, some of Dorico’s most exciting features for composers, and how Dorico users will benefit from the larger Steinberg ecosystem.

New Music for Chinese Instruments

A quartet from Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, a Taiwanese group performing on traditional Chinese instruments. Photo by Chen-Hui Jen.

In my opinion, the most exciting new music being composed and performed in East Asia is for traditional Asian instruments. I’m particularly intrigued by the new music people are writing for Chinese instruments. The best works engage with these instruments’ cultural associations as well as contemporary thinking.

Manifesting Community in Early Minimalism

Steel discs

Community is not one of the words typically included in descriptions of minimalism. Indeed, more often than community, minimalism had to do with conflict. But eventual authorial disputes were the result of a long series of close collaborative engagements.

I don’t have to choose, do I?

A guitar surrounded by a pile of leadsheets and scores

Professionally, I identify as both composer and songwriter. I don’t have to choose, do I? I can have both, yes? What is the difference between songwriting and composing anyway? When does a songwriter call herself a composer, or the other way around?

Classical and Contemporary Cambodian Music and Dance

A group of traditional Cambodian sculptures.

From ancient stone idiophones to singing kites, Cambodian traditional music offers tons of fascinating possibilities for contemporary composers. But the music is no longer developing and now more closely resembles a museum rather than a living art. Chinary Ung hopes to change that through several initiatives he has organized there.

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