The two leading English-language reference works on composers of classical music, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, brought out new, vastly expanded editions in 2001. Nearby library shelves are sagging with smaller, more specialized recent books offering information on American composers living and dead. An unprecedented amount […]
Guy Livingston Writing from Paris, in the beginning of the new millennium, the city of light seems pretty tame compared to its awesome role a century ago. From about 1880 until World War II, Paris was the rarely-contested center for new and avant-garde music, painting, and writing. This cultural hub attracted vast numbers of foreigners, […]
with Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid Paul D. Miller’s Preamble: In an era of intensely networked systems, when you create, it’s not just how you create, but the context of the activity that makes the product. Operating systems, editing environments, graphical user interfaces—these are the keywords in this kind of compositional […]
Steven PowellPhoto design by Melissa Richard In the beginning, when Ugh came up with a tune that the lovely Ugga found irresistible, his only method of preserving his musical masterpiece for future Uggies involved a sharp rock and a flat surface. As the results of this method proved to be difficult to transportóas well as […]
The Feet of Jennifer DunningPhoto by Melissa Richard The relationship of composer to choreographer had its certainties late in the 19th century. Ballet told stories. Both composer and choreographer had only to tell those stories of enchanted maidens, death-dealing vampires, and hapless princes with dependable dance rhythms and sufficient atmosphere. There were the Salieris, among […]
Linda Dahl’s Secret GardenPhoto collage by Serena Spiezio It should no longer be news that women have written popular songs and jazz since these forms first began to take shape in the late l9th century. Still, it remains important to review their accomplishments. They not only serve as an inspiration, but as a reminder of […]
A significant number of the seminal American composers have staked their artistic claims on some constructed paradigm of “naturalness”: Cage’s randomness, Oliveros’s breathing, Reich’s natural processes, Partch’s natural scale, Branca’s rock vernacular stripped down to its basic strum. Most natural of all: banging on the piano keyboard, so beloved of Ives, Cowell, Varèse, Young, Garland.
Sabine Randomized by Amanda MacBlane After the Second World War and a period of controlling more and more aspects of performance, many composers rediscovered an old phenomenon: improvisation. At first glance, the word “improvisation,” which has been used since the 14th century, seems to refer to a clear-cut concept—”to compose or simultaneously compose and perform […]