Where Greatness Lies

One defining quality of a truly great musical imagination is a body of work that we feel has something to offer us at nearly every stage in life.

The Vagabond Life

I’m looking forward to being home for nearly eight months—without a doubt the longest I’ve managed to stay put since I was enrolled in school.

The Natural

I have a friend who has this incredible facility at hearing notes, rhythms, and timbre.

Context is Everything

By labeling a quartal formation as a suspension, we are literally stating that it should be another chord; we actually have the gall to deny that sound its integrity outside of a narrowly-defined relationship to an accepted triadic harmony.

Tools of the Trade

I now have no problem accepting and experiencing “la grande ligne” in all sorts of music, from ragas to pieces by John Zorn, although in some situations it’s certainly less useful to me than others.

Don’t Compromise, Collaborate

A cellist made a very good recommendation as I set out to embark on some serous score-study: that if I really wanted to understand how to write for his instrument, it would be important for me to look not just at passages written with the virtuoso in mind, but also at works with more modest technical demands written with student performers in mind.

Composer Competitions: Myths and Facts

MYTH: Composition competitions are uniformly fair and trustworthy; ergo, they “mean something” and the status they confer in some circles is a reliable barometer of musical skill and creativity; COUNTER-MYTH: composition competitions are essentially rigged, and as such ought to hold no value for the “true” creative, who hovers aloof above the fray.

Why Can’t We Just Relax?

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?

Composing in Dreamland

Although I’ve heard numerous accounts of people having dreamt music, I had never had a similar experience until this morning.

Ask the Dumb Questions

In teaching composition, there is one thing that we can do for every student: We can teach them to be curious about sound.