Brahms’s Third Racket

circles

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.

Robert Dick’s The Other Flute Mocked on Network TV

Robert Dick
Photo by Carla Rees Dawson

Jimmy Fallon spent 50 seconds during Monday’s Tonight Show making fun of pioneering flutist and composer Robert Dick’s name and textbook. Now Dick is hoping to get invited on the show himself so he can let his artistry do the talking instead.

FLUX-PIECE, FLUXCONCERT, FLUXFEST: Maciunas’s FluxFest Kit 2

Detail of the poster for Jeff Berner's 1967 San Francisco Fluxfest featuring a drawing of a woman in a top hat and heels

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.

Miranda Cuckson: String Alchemist

Miranda Cuckson

Violinist Miranda Cuckson embraces even the sharpest, most unapproachable-seeming pieces, conveying the music with such palpable control and insight that it’s as if she’s holding the door into these worlds open for the audience.

Mad Fresh

fresh yogurt

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.

Remembering Ezra Laderman (1924-2015)

Ezra Laderman, smiling, wearing a jacket and tie

Over nearly half a century, Ezra Laderman found a home in the academic world, then in government service at the NEA, then back to teach and administer at Yale. Through all those changes, he continued to compose on a regular schedule, turning out a stream of superbly crafted works, no matter his other duties’ demands. What a role-model!

Why Not Include the Bird—Tudorfest, 1964

The cover of the CD booklet for New World Records' Tudorfest featuring a photo of David Tudor wearing a jacket and tie

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.

Digital to Analog: Plug and Play

Advertisement ca. 1899 (via the Library of Congress).

It is the history of music, forever communicating—what, exactly? But forever communicating, nonetheless, even as the message gets hopelessly lost in the translation to music. And it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.

Biting Breaks: Sampling and Ownership

sample break

I make sample-based music because I feel like it’s more worthwhile to identify existing sounds that have been overlooked, to bring them to fresh ears, and to give them fresh meaning in new contexts.

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