It can feel impossible to label and organize the diversity of music that falls under the “new music” heading. Does that hurt our advocacy for the music we care about?
We have always had cultural gatekeepers: artists, publishers, concert promoters, radio producers, teachers, etc. At the top of this filtering process is the mind and ears of the artist. What can help provide context for the music and enrich and inform the listening experience? Will that change the end result, deepen the experience, or help uncover influence?
Archival and contemporary sounds of a place connect the listener to the people and history of an area. This sonic ethnography may then become material for creative projects in unique ways and push creative practice into direct social engagement.
In the trenches of balancing one too many ensembles, practice time, class, papers, group projects, and more practicing, it can be hard to stomach the thought of adding something else. But there are a few other things may want to make sure you learn while you’re still in school.
New Music USA has announced its fifth round of project grants awards, totaling $276,770 in funding to support artistic work involving a wide range of new American music.
Rudresh Mahanthappa explores his composite cultural identity through an extremely wide range of fascinating musical activities. Some of these projects have been direct attempts to synthesize contemporary jazz and much older Indian traditions. Perhaps even more intriguing, however, has been music in which jazz and Carnatic elements co-exist alongside many other components.
What musicians create serves many purposes, but it is all in vain if we are not genuinely connecting with the listeners. We owe it to ourselves to deepen their listening and to maximize our communication.
Miles didn’t make Bitches Brew by himself; it was the product of a unique compositional collaboration between the trumpeter and his longtime, essential producer at Columbia Records, Teo Macero (1925-2008), an in-house composer, arranger, and producer for Columbia Records who also shaped and directed essential albums by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Johnny Mathis, and Tony Bennett as well as a recording of music by Alan Hovhaness plus the soundtrack to The Graduate.
Just as these kids are not afraid of clicking this or that button on today’s technology (which both my husband and I very much are), they are not afraid of poking into any musical corner. There doesn’t seem to be any outside to the box marked Music. Everything is inside.
When presented with new music, there is a question my voice students ask in quiet panic: “Where is do?” According to the established choral curriculum, we just cannot agree.