Remembering Tod Dockstader (1932-2015)

Tod Dockstader manipulating magnetic tape at a reel-to-reel console in a studio

Tod Dockstader’s electronic music composition, for most of his life, was always an avocation, something he did part-time, outside of his day job, earning him little income. Being an outsider without academic credentials, Tod was denied grants and access to the major electronic music centers. Yet fans of his music included Federico Fellini, and Pete Townshend.

There’s This Thing Happening: The New York Avant Garde Festival and Its Audience

An historic photo of a group of people playing outdoors on invented instruments

Composers and performers who participated in experimental music festivals of the 1960s are relatively easy to find and talk to if you want to track them down. After all, many of them went on to established careers in the arts, and they have gigs and websites and email addresses. But audience members? People who just wandered in off the street? That’s a little more difficult. Where do you even start?

In search of Musical Integration Between the United States and the Rest of the Americas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

Today, across South America, one finds dozens of tourists from all over the world (including many from the United States) who wish to explore the richness of the region. But within the world of notated music, the situation is the opposite. In fact, we can no longer talk about Latin American as a single unit, given the lack of information that exists between its different countries.

En busca de una integración musical entre Estados Unidos y el resto de las Américas

A photo of the street sign showing the intersection of Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas with a rusty plaque of the USA on top

En cualquier lugar de Sudamérica uno se encuentra con decenas de turistas de todo el planeta (incluyendo muchos estadounidenses), que buscan explorar las riquezas de la zona. Ya está claro para ellos que no todo es selvas impenetrables, ni pequeños poblados de madera. Pero en el medio de la música de tradición escrita, también debemos hablar a la inversa. Incluso no podemos hablar de Latinoamérica como una entidad unitaria, ya que existe desinformación entre lo que hace un país y otro.

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.

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