I initially approached composing for electronic media with the same habits acquired through years of notated composition for traditional instruments, which yielded mostly disastrous results. As of the new year, I’m starting an electroacoustic work that is giving me the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned since my first hesitant foray into electronic music.
With the holidays upon us, many of us musical types have been doing some last-minute shopping, racking our brains to think of any gift that is sufficiently cooler than a treble clef paperweight. So it seems like a good time to bring up IV-V-I, a new harmony-based card game created and designed by composer and educator Rafael Hernandez.
Boredom has as much to do with what we bring to an experience as with that experience itself. This is a great point from which to begin a consideration of boredom, which has less to do with some quality inherent in the music at hand than with a certain relationship (or perhaps lack of relationship) between the listener and the music.
For an album peppered with so many electronic sources, much of itsnotyouitsme’s Everybody’s Pain sounds surprisingly earthy and organic (as suggested by Allegrea Rosenberg’s striking cover art, which features roots and branches framed in a kind of pixelated, psychedelicized landscape). It’s a good fit for an album in which electronic sounds and processing are frequently used to conjure textures that seem almost more “alive” than the sound of traditional acoustic instruments.
Two recent events at Washington, D.C.’s Freer Gallery of Art (which houses a portion of the Smithsonian’s collection of Asian art) have juxtaposed Western and Asian culture via concert programs of (mostly) contemporary music. In October, the Lark Quartet and koto player Yumi Kurosawa presented the quartet version of Daron Hagen’s koto concerto, Genji, and last week another concert at the Freer Gallery featured other recent works presented by Music from Copland House and Music from China.
Even in cases where I have met frequently with performers during the composition of a piece, something about the medium of notated music seems to necessitate a certain amount of reclusion. The other athletes wait anxiously by the first checkpoint, crossing their fingers and hoping that the composer is on time while they remain unable to do a whole lot until the composer shows up.
Benjamin Broening’s catalog is rich in electroacoustic works, and as founder and artistic director of the University of Richmond’s Third Practice Festival he has likewise affirmed that the marriage of experimental sonic expressivity with an almost vocal sense of line is not merely one of convenience, but rather a deep source of inspiration.