Essential to the construction of community is the creation of a shared history: a rhetoric and a narrative about who the community is, and what its values are. And in order to create a new kind of community, Bang on a Can had to overplay its hand. Community had to be performed.
Sometimes radical new art needs an institutional network of support to be fully realized. Attributing Philip Glass’s success entirely to his creative iconoclasm ignores the substantial community of impresarios and patrons who have influenced his work and reception history.
The cultivation of community is fundamental to new music. Philip Glass’s first commissioned opera, Satyagraha, was the product of this collaborative ideal. But how does this communal ethos actually translate into music?
As a group dedicated to exploring “perceptible wave energies” through light and sound, Pulsa created art and music that not only made group collaborations audible and palpable, but they also reminded their audiences and participants—through light and sound—that actions have effects.
Community is not one of the words typically included in descriptions of minimalism. Indeed, more often than community, minimalism had to do with conflict. But eventual authorial disputes were the result of a long series of close collaborative engagements.
When compensation takes the form of passion and satisfaction, instead of monetary remuneration, what is the impact on performance quality, commitment, and artistic freedom? If we could remove money from the equation by making sure artists get paid enough to do better than get by, what would that look like?
In this volatile environment, there’s a piece of economics that can help make sense of what’s going on, help us make better decisions as artists, and even help us make long-term plans.
Music, at its core, is not a rational art. And yet its creation now necessarily happens within systems and societal frameworks evermore marked off, framed, and otherwise governed by the self-proclaimed rationality of Big Data. Sometimes the meeting will be useful; sometimes it will not.
What’s useful about examining how business funds creation is that it provides a currently functioning model in which money is already flowing for the development of new things. It also shows that there are several ways this can be done. Let’s imagine some potential futures.
In the Pacific Northwest underneath the decommissioned Fort Worden is a 2 million-gallon concrete cistern, now empty, that has a 45-second reverb time. And its impact on experimental music has resonated across the country and down through the decades.