Author Archives: Alexandra Gardner

Joel Puckett: Real Life Inspiration

Joel Puckett

“Write what you know” is a commonly heard piece for advice for artists, but composer Joel Puckett has taken to heart a slightly different version of this sentiment, which could be stated, “Write what you live.”

Sounds Heard: The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones

These three recordings have been sitting patiently and quietly in the pile on my desk without flash or fanfare, waiting to be listened to. Two of the discs are from just down the road in Washington, D.C., while another comes from San Francisco, and the music they contain couldn’t be more diverse.

Music for Difficult Days

Plot Twist

Turning to music for comfort and solace is not a subject that is talked about much—not out loud, at any rate—in our community, even though it is a perfectly natural inclination, and something that many of us engage in regularly.

Sounds Heard: Keeril Makan–Afterglow

Afterglow cover

It is always a pleasure to encounter music that serves as a reminder of some basic creative ideas: that music is a physical thing, connected to the body and to breath; that simplicity is often the most satisfying option; that the present moment and all that it holds is important. All of these notions are present in composer Keeril Makan’s latest release on Mode Records, Afterglow.

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

For composer Andrew Norman, the process of composing feels like a tug-of-war between opposing forces. From start to finish, he is constantly questioning, and pushing back on his own ideas in his efforts to create meaningful musical experiences for performers and for audiences. He revels in the visceral experiences of music making, and thoughtfully challenges performers to bring their own ideas to the interpretation of his music.

Creative Thinking Biases

Watercolor paints

I’m currently a bit obsessed with the upswing in available information related to creativity that has taken place over the past couple of years. Lately I feel as if the swell has become even larger, with a huge inflow of books and websites devoted to the why and how of creative process and creative thinking. I can’t help but wonder, why is all this material coming out now?

Paul Rudy: Life Improvisations

Paul Rudy: Life Improvisations

Composer Paul Rudy takes to heart the idea that “nature’s wisdom follows the path of least resistance.” Active listening and intuition play vital roles not only in his composing process, but also in his work as an educator and performer.