Blogs

Listen To Music, Dammit!

pile of CDs

Listening to and trying to understand as much music as possible, even music that you don’t enjoy, is an incredibly important part of becoming a better and better musician. Knowing, experiencing, and learning from more than I knew, experienced, and learned from yesterday is a worthwhile goal.

Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part Two: The Human Piano

A 1932 State Education Department plaque on the entrance to Auburn Prison which reads: "ERECTION COMMENCED 1916, FIRST PRISONERS 1817 ASSISTED IN CONSTRUCTION, FIRST ELECTROCUTION IN THE WORLD 1890"

It was shockingly easy to forget, in the midst of the classroom environment, that the majority of the students were serving life sentences for committing horrendous acts. I reminded myself that my goal was to share the joys and mysteries of music making, to try to understand their need for creative expression, and in turn, gain insight into my own personal and artistic motivations.

There Is No Right Experience

Chris Cerrone’s Invisible Cities at Union Station

Who is to say that my interpretation is best, or that a best interpretation even exists? And why should we limit ourselves, as composers, performers, or listeners, to just one option? We’re the creative ones, right?

Disposable Spaces, Plastic Music

Headphones

We mostly listen to recorded music, and we likely hear it alone—in a car, through headphones, maybe through a set of speakers at home. This kind of listening space is simultaneously ephemeral—in that it is fundamentally malleable—and monumental—in that its infinite repeatability aspires to cultural permanence.

We Are Sitting In (Another) Room: Improv with Architecture

countryman phase shifter

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Nicolas Collins’s Pea Soup, a piece that uses electronics to “play” the signature acoustics of a space. In honor of that milestone, Collins today unveils Pea Soup To Go, a free virtual jukebox programed with recordings of 70 different versions of the work.

Hindustani Music: Cultural Collisions (and Washing Machines)

sequence of old Coinslot washing machines

The unlikely collisions between the two musical cultures I inhabit bring up so many questions for me about musical perception: What do people from one musical culture hear in the music of another culture? How much of our aesthetic association with specific music comes from repetition and reinforcement within our musical culture, and how much is simply hard-wired into us as humans?

Music in a Time of Snapchat: Ephemeral Contexts

busker

It’s fair to say that we yearn for more opportunities to enjoy music in less formal spaces. But can you still have a valuable musical experience while ordering a drink, chewing an hors d’oeuvre, or making conversation?

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