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Towards The Future: New Music in the 21st Century

What is New Music

At a time when our most immediate collective reality is not only mediocre, but also dangerous and pathologically against the creation of fairer worlds, I would like to believe that there is some work to be done in our field, where perhaps we can reclaim creativity and imagination.

Timbre, Envelope and Variation in Electroacoustic Music

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

Timbre and envelope are intricately related and are major determinants of how effective a sound event in music will be, whether in acoustic music or electroacoustic music. Since the sound events used in electroacoustic music often have little or no distinct pitch characteristics, traditional contrapuntal sequencing devices often may not generate identifiable or interesting variations, but other techniques, including models borrowed from rhetoric, can be used effectively.

The Defeat of New Music

University of Arkansas

Because of Babbitt and others, contemporary music gained access to academia and did find some solace, but the price of admission was nevertheless very high. By fundamentally treating contemporary music as a field of scientistic exploration, this type of music neglected most of its bonds with modernity and its emancipatory project based on self-critique.

The Opportunity of Electroacoustic Musicology

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

The musicological exploration of electroacoustic music, its historical and social dimensions, is long overdue. In fact, as so many pivotal figures pass away, I cannot fathom why there has not been a rush to collect primary source material, let alone to interpret it.

New Music Is Not (Necessarily) Contemporary Music

labels

New Music is at its core an artistic project based on critique: this is its link to modernity—what fundamentally defines its nature. It questions past, dysfunctional normative models as a means to generate newer, more appropriate aesthetic fields through which another future may be built.

Structural and Playback Issues in Current Electroacoustic Music

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

I’ve composed works using electroacoustic technologies since 1963, and I want to share with you over the next several weeks some of my thoughts about the current state of the medium. Since I am trained as a Western classical composer, my comments will be from that perspective. 1. Structural Issues in Current Electroacoustic Music The […]

New Music: A Product of Modernity (and Capitalism)

industry

As long as music is supplied in exchange for economic capital, musicians participate in the logic of capitalism. The question is whether this is perceived as an issue that needs to be addressed or, on the contrary, if it is an inevitable consequence that cannot be tackled through the music itself.

Cultivating a Sense of Belonging: Our Debate over Electroacoustic Music Terminology

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

I most often still catch myself calling it electronic music, even as that term has been appropriated by popular music. But I find the term electroacoustic music works best. It distinguishes what we do from “other” music, while attempting to encompass many modes of production and performance. The term has also come into wide and less controversial usage over the past twenty years (though not without some continued confusion).

The Rush of Performing vs. Merely Being a Witness

Close up of a concert poster for the 10-piece ensemble live concert of Gretta Harley's Elenet 115 on a pole with other concert posters.

I get a rush when I perform, especially premiering a new piece in front of an audience, or when the musicians that I’m playing with sound exceptionally good—when we are all gelling, the stars align and we’re breathing together, and that exact moment is the only moment and it is perfect. It’s a different feeling than when I’m in the audience, listening to others play the music I write down on paper. My heart races. Time slows down and I hold my breath. I am merely a witness to the music.

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