Intense, Hardworking and Fun Loving—Remembering Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)

Stephen Paulus at the piano during a rehearsal for his ChoralQuest piece.

Steve was tremendously disciplined. He composed every day, whether he wanted to or not. He completed everything he started. You could count on him for advice. He gave me the best financial advice of my professional life when he said “Just envision the amount of money you will need next year, believe it, and it will be there.” He was 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?

The Know-Nothings of Jazz

photo of woman covering eyes, ears and mouth

Institutionalized jazz is safe, museum-piece jazz, but the music still happens in basements and lofts and living room performance spaces. These are the alternative venues and institutions for a music that, by definition, is outsider music, counter-culture music.

Chicago: A scavenger hunt of world premieres

openhouse13

It was Open House Chicago this weekend. Open House is, apparently, a worldwide celebratory architectural free-for-all phenomenon that started in London. But I’ve only ever experienced it in Chicago. Here, it usually falls in late October, when each rainstorm is a tender rite of passage that strips the city of a bit more color.

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