The banjo’s timbre cuts to some of the deepest seams of America’s past. To a number of contemporary banjo players and composers, the well of history and associations surrounding the banjo becomes a musical parameter to be bent, subverted, or used to evoke a particular landscape or time.
Haitian rhythms were perhaps of equal importance in early jazz developments as Latin ones. And now there is a growing cadre of jazz musicians of Haitian descent, as well as other Caribbean arrivals or first gens, who openly embrace elements of their rich musical heritages.
Stating that the DarwinTunes experiment proves that “selection rapidly evolves music from noise,” among other dubious claims, is problematic to say the least. Yet media coverage of the research may be perceived as a mirror of how our society generally interprets music.
With LDS names popping up everywhere else, where are the Mormon composers? Until fairly recently, Mormon composers who were known as such weren’t all that known outside of Mormon circles. Conversely, those who were more well-known as composers weren’t readily identified with their native religion.
Looking around, listening around, culture is as stylistically non-hegemonic as I’ve ever experienced. But parallel to that is a kind of greater semiotic compartmentalization: the vast majority of cultural artifacts I encounter keenly announce their stylistic allegiance early and often.
Evan Ware suggests that his piece is an invitation for an interpretative dialog between his listeners’ experiences and his music’s ingrained symbols. Yet, even if we accept this premise, how do we evaluate the way pieces of music, and their composers, foster the formation of listeners’ interpretations?
In the past four years, a new cash spigot has been cranked open for contemporary arts funding across the nation: Creative Placemaking. If current arts policy trends continue, then new music’s institutional vibrancy might depend on how it fits into this rubric, interfacing with communities on levels rarely considered in the past such as neighborhood pride, commercial impact, and livability.
Assumptions are baked into every aspect of music notation, often layered one on top of the other, and they color the kinds of music we can make. Make too many wrong assumptions about a notation and you’ll quickly dig yourself into a hole.
Casual observation of the audience for jazz reveals that it is predominantly male, which also reflects the average jazz band personnel. One wonders aloud whether consumers witnessing more women on the bandstand might ever translate to an increase in women in the jazz audience.
In a world that increasingly relies on the economy of free, it’s important to establish that some things aren’t free, and in fact have an actual dollar value associated with them. I sincerely believe that we, as a society, can’t claim to value something—be it an object, a service, or our culture in general—if we refuse to ascribe an actual price to it or to some part of it.