The Audience is the Most Important Instrument


Claiming that we don’t care if our music is heard, engaged with, deeply felt is what—most of all—is shrinking audiences for contemporary music. It’s a pernicious idea that contemporary music can only succeed if it bets against itself and pretends that losing was really winning all along.

Jingle Those Bells

Recycled Tanenbaum

We’ve come to the boxes on the calendar when everything seems to grind down to a murmur, even in the era where the arbiters of the zeitgeist say that we want to and are supposed to remain connected 24/7/365 thanks to the miracle of digital technology.

Happy Holidays

Louis Armstrongs' Christmas Album

Not all of the songs that comprise the canon of Christmas carols are unrewarding vehicles for musically creative collaborations, but most need at least a re-harmonization in order for jazz musicians to improvise intelligently on them. Why are these examples of the tribute our society pays to redemption so devoid of musical excitement?

Out of Network

Rob Deemer

At the annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, thousands of pre-college and college students, educators, and professionals create a massive scrum of lanyards, tote bags, free CD’s, fried food, and—most importantly for composers—networking opportunities.

Rhythm and Restlessness

Isaac Schankler

Between sparse ambience and dense texture are the rhythms we can typically make sense of, and this is the territory that most music explores. But I’m sometimes sympathetic to the modernist mission, the manifest destiny that wants to find new lands. What is the furthest we can go, in either direction, without entering completely inhospitable terrain?

A Point of Culture

Gary Larson cover for Jim Hall album

Jim Hall was one of those musicians whose playing changed how American music sounds. His imagination and technical command of the guitar allowed him to rethink and subsequently expand on the traditional approach to the instrument’s fretboard, almost as if he were playing a piano. One could say that Hall was a singular point in the culture of American guitar playing.

To Jury or Not to Jury


“Let the music speak for itself” is a noble concept, but in today’s age of pre-concert talks, grant proposals, and public interaction, running the gauntlet of a composition jury can help to prepare composers for what is to come.

Competition Fees: How Much is Too Much?

G-clef change

Where should one draw the line when it comes to application fees? How much is too much? And when it is too much, what is the best way to communicate that to the organizers who determine the fees? Tell us what you think…

Fair and Balanced

Scales of Justice

Until we rid ourselves of the notion that the best music of all time was created by a handful of men who lived an ocean away from us and who all died more than a century before any of us were born, we will never have programming that truly reflects the vast array of musical creativity all around us.

Culture, The End.

Vertical Bass

Experienced musicians eventually arrive at a point where the physicality of the instruments they play seems to disappear. It’s at this point that proprioception, e.g. muscle memory, provides the player with a cognitive shortcut that frees the conscious mind from primarily focusing on the mechanical details of music performance and allows it to address issues of aesthetics.

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