Unlike composing concert music, in film and advertising a composer is tasked with writing music the audience wants, but sometimes that audience has trouble parsing what it wants.
Even if it’s a composition that explores elements I find interesting outside of the commercial medium, I sometimes forget it happened. This constant push to be more and more productive makes your attachment to what you’ve written minimal.
This is an era that rewards simple explanations, yet telling the often-complex stories of how non-superstar musicians make work while making a living is more important than ever.
While my friends and colleagues were pursuing projects in concert, dance, opera, and other artistic mediums, I was meeting music producers for new commercial opportunities.
Jazz is all about repurposing pop and folk material for new expressive ends, and the greats were remix artists before the term existed.
Composers and performers who participated in experimental music festivals of the 1960s are relatively easy to find and talk to if you want to track them down. After all, many of them went on to established careers in the arts, and they have gigs and websites and email addresses. But audience members? People who just wandered in off the street? That’s a little more difficult. Where do you even start?
There’s no clearer way to see the creative thinking of a diverse group of musicians than to give them the same set of raw materials.
I’m not here to argue about whether or not Fluxus is music. In some ways it is, and in some ways it isn’t. Personally, I find it hard to ignore that its members—many of whom at one point or another considered themselves musicians and composers—pointed to musical forms and instruments in so many of their titles and with so many of their materials and processes.
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.