Articles by Dan Visconti
At first I had felt there was something vaguely degrading about having a couple of “the kinds of pieces that could be played during a massage,” but then I wondered, what’s the big deal with music that helps some kinds of people relax for their physical therapy?
Although I’ve heard numerous accounts of people having dreamt music, I had never had a similar experience until this morning.
In teaching composition, there is one thing that we can do for every student: We can teach them to be curious about sound.
Sometimes I’ve found that focusing obsessively on the details can also be a legitimate path towards grasping the whole if I think of those details in a cumulative, global way, rather than as they pertain to particular nooks and crannies of the composition.
I kept destroying sections of the piece and then building something new in its place, sometimes “painting over” sections with other layers; just as one might say “there needs to be more orange over in this corner of the canvas,” I listened to each successive version of the composition in my head and adjusted it accordingly.
There is a German word for which there is no easy English translation, tonmeister, that is loosely equivalent to “recording engineer” or maybe “producer”; maybe “sound director” would be the best translation, a lead engineer who is equally at home recording, mixing, rehearsing, and following a score.
While it’s natural on some level to perhaps edit the past to be more in line with the present, I don’t believe this kind of thinking has played very much of a role in my decision to keep some works in circulation and not others.
Composers need a lot of things in order to be successful, including good ears for sound, plentiful performance opportunities, and above all imagination; but we also need stuff and lots of it, and those supplies can be pretty expensive.
At the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association conference last week in D.C., attendees shared with me the top five ways that composers shoot themselves in the foot in rehearsal and render their otherwise excellent music unpalatable to artistic staff.
I’ve rarely found that any analysis given before the complete performance of a piece has the effect of piquing my interest to hear the subsequent performance.