Blogs

New Music is Academic Music

university

If one wants contemporary music to remain in the academy, how do we take its social behavior and make it contrarian, vital? How can we combat the characteristically academic forms of racism, sexism, and other discriminating obstacles to thought and speech? And if one wants to find it a new home, where can it go?

Composers, Meet Identity-Protective Cognition

security

Pondering identity-protective cognition “is to stare into a kind of intellectual abyss.” Nevertheless, it is a task that seems particularly worthwhile from time to time if we, as artists, are to truly reflect the—inevitably social—human condition.

New Music’s Quality Problem

quality control

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.

Let’s Get Critical

Popcorn

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.

Cataloging the Fail: A Cathartic Scrapbook

Composer Fail Example

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.

Goofing off, Perfected: Lessons from Fluxus

From Yoko Ono’s 1971 edition of Grapefruit

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.

1, 2, 3… Action

WomenInJazzConcert

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.

Getting Out of the Box

Slatkin with EarShot Composers

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.

On the Purpose of Art in 700 Words or Less

street musicians

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?