Author Archives: Isaac Schankler

Cage = 100: Tudor and the Performance Practice of Concert for Piano and Orchestra

Many of John Cage’s scores seem to allow performers a degree of freedom that often leads to interpretations that, by the composer’s own admission, do not reflect the spirit of the work. This is a problem of both attitude and notation. If we are to continue or reconstruct the tradition, we must look to the one performer in particular who defined and was defined by the performance practice of Cage’s music – the pianist, composer, and electronic musician David Tudor.

Learning the Rules

Learning the rules before breaking them can breed a certain timidity of thought, and it can actually teach students to mistrust their ears and instincts, which may be telling them something contrary to what the rules are saying.

Secondary Concerns

It’s all fine and good to make music for its own sake, but that’s not quite enough for me, and I don’t think it should be enough.

The Riddle

Whenever I’m asked to elucidate my creative process, it occurs to me that the vast majority of what I’ve learned is nothing remotely deep or profound, and in many cases it doesn’t even seem applicable to anyone else.

A Hypothetical Notational Alternative

With the future of Sibelius in question, I’ve been thinking about my issues with the notation software that’s currently available. While I know there are a variety of existing options out there, I’ve been having more fun imagining hypothetical alternatives.

Where Do You Work?

For a while it seemed to me like every successful composer was telling the same story about their working habits—get up early in the morning, maybe have breakfast, then write music for several hours straight. It’s funny how this pattern used to feel like a prison to me, and now it feels like a vacation.

Changing the Concert Ritual

My main issue with the traditional concert ritual is not that it’s intimidating, necessarily, but that it’s based on an unspoken and faulty assumption.

Elitism and Eclecticism

The idea that elites congratulate themselves on their eclectic tastes, while not recognizing that they are class-determined, is thought-provoking and significant. The reality, however, is certainly at least a little more complicated; for one thing, you certainly don’t need to be painfully wealthy to have eclectic tastes.

The Good, the Bad, and the Experimental

Morricone’s theme for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is almost certainly the most recognizable piece of music that he’s written. It’s been referenced and parodied so many times that it’s become easy to take for granted, and harder to hear just how strange and original it is.

Beyond Sound and Science: Musicians, Researchers, and the Next Spotify

Musicians and researchers must work together to build a streaming music service that is musically and technologically sophisticated, appealing to audiences, fair to musicians, and conducive to direct engagement between the two. We must be involved in this next phase of creation, or we leave the future of music up to others.