Why I Make Music

Nick Norton's desk

When Nick Norton tells people he’s a composer, the conversation usually turns to the music itself. The one question that no one ever seems to ask, however, is “why?”

Paul Dresher: Intense Beauty, Visceral Energy, and Sonic Curiosity

Paul Dresher

Paul Dresher has done work in at least three distinct musical streams with equal vigor and equally significant results. But whether he’s creating a fully notated piece of post-minimalist chamber music, a poly-stylistic score for an intense musical theater work, or an idiosyncratic experiment for one-of-a kind instruments of his own design, he’s always operating with the same basic assumptions about his audience.

Poultry Jam: A Chicago Thanksgiving Playlist

Thanksgiving Turkey

Ah, Thanksgiving: a holiday as rich in calories as it is in cultural significance. What’s the proper soundtrack for a day that means so many different things? Why not canvas the work of Chicago composers for music that’s as complex as Turkey Day?

Classical Music Has Open Data Sets?

The chart from

In open data sets, Suby Raman found a lot of really interesting stories to tell about the performing arts. Because he’s a composer, he knew what to look for in the data and what would matter to people. Because he’s a programmer, he knew how to handle the big data set itself.

The Art of Doubting Myself

out of your head

If I write music that both satisfies and excites me, and is music that I want to hear, and I’m being honest about all of that, then I’m good. Anything beyond that is a lucky perk, and anything less than that can be worked on until it’s up to snuff in my musical worldview.

Susan Alcorn: Fearless Slides

Susan Alcorn

Composer, improviser, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn came up playing country and western music, but her ear eventually led her down a decidedly more singular experimental path. “You’ve got be naked in your mind to be able to play and express yourself—you have to be naked and fearless and that’s not easy, especially the older you get.”

Listen To Music, Dammit!

pile of CDs

Listening to and trying to understand as much music as possible, even music that you don’t enjoy, is an incredibly important part of becoming a better and better musician. Knowing, experiencing, and learning from more than I knew, experienced, and learned from yesterday is a worthwhile goal.

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