Author Archives: Alexandra Gardner

If You Play Something, Say Something

The seeds for some interesting discussion were planted over the weekend when I mentioned to a couple of composers that I had heard their works performed on a concert in California. They were surprised because they hadn’t been notified about the performances! This happens more often than one might think, and while some consider this a good problem to have, it makes others wonder how much they aren’t collecting in performance royalties.

Long Distance Runaround

The nature of long distance musical relationships is not unlike their romantic counterparts—time spent together is fleeting and intense, there is less of a shared daily routine, and extra effort is required to maintain communication during time apart. It’s definitely more complicated than having a musical life primarily in one’s own backyard.

Sounds Heard: Christopher O’Riley/Matt Haimovitz—Shuffle.Play.Listen

It seems perfectly natural that cellist Matt Haimovitz, who in the very early 21st century moved the Bach cello suites out of the concert hall and into what were at the time “alternative” performance spaces such as bars and nightclubs, would join forces with pianist Christopher O’Riley, who has created his own piano arrangements of songs by Nirvana and Radiohead to name just a few.

Seasonal Music, Anyone?

I wonder what makes music sound “spooky” to people—is it the instrumentation? The harmonic language? The melodic lines? No one seemss to be able to pinpoint exactly why they experience some music that way, or for that matter, why they don’t.

Raising Music

Composers are very quick to dismiss their “past selves” in the interest of giving what might be considered an accurate impression of the composer as s/he is in the moment. The only problem is that each moment passes so quickly!

Got Performance Footage?

As you know, one of the things we do here at NewMusicBox is produce video profiles of composers and musicians. The most difficult part of the endeavor is obtaining performance footage—not because it is difficult to get permission to use it, but because very few composers have high quality (or for that matter, any at all) visual documentation of performances!

Harder Than It Looks

Last week I had a very interesting conversation with another composer that arose from a comment he made about having to be careful that his music doesn’t look easier than it really is. Given that this was an extremely successful composer whose music doesn’t ever sound “easy” to me, I was very surprised to learn that this has been a concern of his.

Sounds Heard: Terri Lyne Carrington—Mosaic

With her latest CD, Mosaic, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington has assembled a jaw-dropping lineup of musicians who happen to all be female, including Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding, Nona Hendryx, Tineke Postma, Sheila E., Geri Allen, and many others. The intention of the project, as the liner notes describe, is to “comment on historical, current and appropriately feminine themes with the intent to offer an informative, enjoyable listening experience, driven by creativity and consciousness.”

Don’t Call Me When I’m Driving

Chunks of time spent alone are crucial for creative people—that is when you can listen to what is going on in your own head. The best ideas tend not to arrive in a blaze of obvious glory, but rather they whisper in your ear, and if you are not paying attention, they are gone faster than you can pull out your smartphone and fire up your Evernote.