It seems like the entire audience problem debate stubbornly looks outward, asking questions about marketing, “outreach,” and accessibility, all the while carefully avoiding some seriously necessary self-examination. Instead of an audience problem, I think new music has a quality problem.
For as much as it stirs the pot when a “serious music” review mentions the soloist’s hem line, it turns out things get even more heated when pop goes under the cold lens of the theoretical magnifying glass.
Lately I’ve been reflecting more and more on how I’ve dealt with rejections and supposed failure as a young composer. Because I now teach at a small liberal arts college, I constantly see and interact with a sea of undergrads. And because of their presence, I am reminded of how I dealt with what I perceived as devastating defeat upon experiencing rejection.
Fluxus and their Event Scores point to our human condition in a way that is wildly dynamic. The score is an invitation, a call to action, and first-hand study and performance of these scores would be healthy for any of us.
For the last article in my series on women in jazz this month, I would like to reflect on a 20th annual series of concerts that we just completed with an eight-piece all female group in celebration of Women’s History Month and to conclude with action steps towards an inclusive future.
I’ve spent much of March travelling around to meet with composers and other people involved in music in different parts of the country. It was a valuable reminder that there is no adequate substitute for direct personal contact with people, plus I learned about some really great music.
Moving to a new town has triggered something inside of me that makes me question everything I do. In trying to analyze the elements of music—Where does it take place? With whom? In what notation? With what instruments?—I’ve been pulled back to a central question: What is our music for?
The likelihood of a female teenager volunteering for an improvised solo in front of her peers that includes the option of failure is certainly smaller than her male band mate stepping out to show off his unique personality.
The tricky part of advocating for the arts is that the really important parts are harder to put numbers on. This shouldn’t be surprising; the awesomest parts of art itself are the parts that are hardest to quantify.
If our aim is to become smart and savvy makers of sound and performance, what models can be adopted from other fields to encourage the development of new works, new ideas, and new musics hitherto unknown? How can we best support the newest generation of composers, performers, sound artists, and thinkers?