I almost missed Dan Joseph’s article last week decrying the absence of composers from his Gen X generation. Were we born at the “wrong” time? I think our generation has the unique luck to have connections to both the social turmoil of the 1960s/’70s as well as the changes in technology and social interaction of the 1990s/’00s.
How one discovers what material will work in a particular piece and the decision-making process by which the end result is created are two important aspects of the creative process that define and differentiate each composer from his or her colleagues.
We should be celebrating Michel van der Aa’s Grawemeyer win—a massive achievement—but we can use that celebration to reevaluate our own place in the world as well. If we’re really going to think about why the Grawemeyer does not have much recognition outside of the new music community, there are several questions that need to be raised.
Consistency in instrumentation is in many ways a good thing, since it simultaneously allows for ensembles to have a wide array of works to choose from as well as a strong number of similar ensembles by which composers may have their works performed. That same consistency, however, has created some unintended side effects.
I have tried to emphasize the importance of students critiquing one another’s works in my Beginning Composition class for several years to great effect. This accomplishes several valuable things at once.
As Hurricane Sandy and the various weather systems that converged on the eastern half of the United States began to unleash their power, it still didn’t seem all that bad from our vantage point in western New York.
It was, indeed, that bad.
I contacted a limited number of professional composers both here and in Europe and asked them if they could give me a list of ten composers from the 20th and 21st centuries that they would want to give to an undergraduate or graduate student composer to listen to in depth. What names would you include?
For as much as we would like to have our music be the true conduit through which others can understand who we are, it is increasingly necessary for living composers to allow musicians and audiences to discover who the person is behind the score.
The more performers compose, the greater their understanding, appreciation, and insight will be of works by other composers, and the more creative voices we include in our musical community, the further our musical boundaries will ultimately reach.
A new project has gotten me thinking about how film scoring techniques can fit within a concert composer’s toolbox.