Eight Waves a Composer Will Ride in This Century

I am strangely optimistic right now, at least for art, despite the enormous challenges we face as a species. Part of the reason is that I feel the forces that I’ll enumerate are in fact moving us towards a sort of new “common practice,” one that is far more diverse and comprehensive.

Intuition and Algorithm in Einstein on the Beach

Minimalism in its first manifestation was a strict, objectivist style. There were enough hints of gradual process in Einstein on the Beach that it was accepted as fitting this paradigm at the time. But looking back in retrospect, Einstein seems a far more intuitively written work.

Is It Dangerous?

Can any kind of music actually be dangerous? This rhetorical question has an obvious answer: it cannot kill you, but something in it scares enough people that the famously oppressive regimes of, say, the Taliban, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China (during the Cultural Revolution), the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, or that tiny town in Footloose all felt that certain music should be duly restricted.

What Is Going on with the Record Industry?

I read a lot of commentary about the modern music business, and I’m guessing you do, too. It drives me slightly crazy. Here are ten things I wish people said more often. They don’t represent a blueprint for success or a complete explanation of what’s happening, but I hope they give you a clearer idea of what’s going on and what you might do about it. Here goes…

Five Rehearsal Secrets of the Spektral Quartet

Every group of people has a different approach to the musical, personal, and organizational challenges of running an ensemble. How does the Spektral Quartet do what they do–namely, learn enormous piles of music and give consistently excellent performances, all while apparently retaining their sanity and continuing to actually like each other?

The Tyranny of Lists

“Listy” thinking—the notion that anything as elemental and sloppily chaotic as music (or any art, for that matter) can withstand ordering, this-or-that-ing—can be, at best, problematic. The list can take the place of the work much like ideas of the people involved can be easily replaced by received notions. And that represents a danger because when something complicated is easily and quickly understood, the chances are that you are doing something wrong.