We in Western culture have a habit of reflexively using “original” as a synonym for “good,” especially in music. I’m going to argue that originality is not actually a virtue, but rather, that freshness is. The concepts are related, but not identical.
The San Francisco Tape Music Center’s 1964 Tudorfest was more than what you could read in the reviews. It was more than its success. It was a scramble, a stretch, a compromise—the usual behind-the-scenes madness.
I make sample-based music because I feel like it’s more worthwhile to identify existing sounds that have been overlooked, to bring them to fresh ears, and to give them fresh meaning in new contexts.
I went to graduate school to study the sounds of burning pianos and squeaky rubber dolls and trash can lids. This music made people think; this music provoked discussions, This music was gutsy and political and sometimes it even required us to reconsider our definition of music.
The power of making music is found in the accretion of work and thought we put in over a lifetime, not single moments of inspiration.
There are highly visible musicians who are bravely sticking their necks out. They are not programming what the audience wants, they are programming what the audience needs. Contrast this with the classical groups that program rock or pop transcriptions and advertise it as out-of-the-box thinking.
What happens when you stop practicing under the weight of worship and start playing to see what you can add to the conversation?
I know people who have purposely worn dark colors to rehearsals because of the secret world of sweating that happens with a new work. But when in doubt about how to behave in the rehearsal room (or in meetings or when drafting emails, for that matter), always default to professionalism.
For better or worse, I have become more interested in the ways in which people think and grow than I am in their ability to reproduce subtle variations on a limited personal language, regardless of how successful that language may be.
If the Recording Academy feels that certain awards they give are not worthy of exposure on network television (which ultimately are the awards that wind up getting reported on in most of the media outlets and therefore the ones that most people are aware actually of), why give the awards in the first place?