Author Archives: Isaac Schankler

Classical Pantomime

Notions of what’s authentic in music have changed in recent years, and it’s difficult, maybe impossible, to pinpoint when exactly this shift occurred.

Artful Deception

Sometimes I like to think of musicians as stage magicians. There is a kind of artful deception that’s a part of performance, but it’s rarely acknowledged and often downplayed, especially in the concert music world.

Sounds Heard: Dennis Johnson–November

Now, more than 50 years after November’s premiere and with a reconstructed score by Kyle Gann, the composition has finally been recorded in its entirety by pianist R. Andrew Lee and released as a 4-CD set and digital download by Irritable Hedgehog.

Who Owns a Musical Idea?

Should Cobra be considered a composition in the classical sense, or is it something different? And if it’s something different, what rules of ownership should apply to it?

Competition and Community

New music culture’s inability to conceive of an opportunity as anything but a competition is a big problem. We need to create more opportunities for young composers that aren’t structured this way, but can we even imagine them?

Two Lou Harrisons

What kind of a composer would Harrison have been if he had never left New York? This is an absurd hypothetical question by any measure. But I also wonder what kind of creativity the current climate of careerism is killing.

The Tom Johnson Paradox

While Tom Johnson doesn’t necessarily expect his music to be understood, he hopes that people will put forth the effort to at least grasp a fragment of it. It is essentially a gesture of trust: here is an offering, and you can take it or leave it.

Games Played: Proteus

Ed Key’s visual design only tells half the story. David Kanaga’s sound design—or “music design” as he calls it—is incredibly dynamic and layered, with samples culled from an overwhelming number of sources.