Thursday, August 24, 2006

Should we be concerned?

The material health of New Music has never been robust, but vitality in other domains has - perhaps improbably - sustained musical innovation and experiment for generations. Despite my personal optimism, a decline in excitement made public over new combinations of sounds old and new with the capacity to challenge both sense and intellect seems impossible to ignore lately. Either there is something of a real trend now, or New Musicians are just plain doing a lousy job in communicating their excitement. Our little Newmusiconlineand has been next-to silent this summer. The bit of optimism I have comes mostly from a handful of independent musicians I've discovered online. While I think that there is some real blame to be laid at the tired institutions which continue to get the lion's share of material nourishment from the small trough from which we all forced to feed while programming ever more minor if more polished variations on the same old same old - I mean, seriously, who's actually going to come back from a Darmstadt or a Tanglewood this Fall with a thrilling and convincing story about "what I heard during my summer vacation and how it changed my life forever"* - there are now more ways of doing one's own work outside of an institutional context than ever, so blame can be spread around pretty well.

Okay, then, what have you heard lately that has changed your life?

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* With all apologies to Rilke, I will just note that the greatest tragedy of my apprentice career as a composer was that the Burdocks Festival did not continue; a lesser tragedy was that the greatest controversy of the Darmstadt courses I attended concerned the combined lack of adequate ventilation and a seriously inept catering service, against that sensory foreground, the music was weak background radiation; at the same time, the greatest fortunes of those years was getting programmed at the Cabrillo Festival (back when they actually did experimental music) and by the Gesellschaft für Akustisches Lebenshilfe in Kiel.

1 comment:

Roger Bourland said...

Y'know, sometimes a good piece of music is like a great dinner. You remember it for a day or two and whether it sat well with you or the service was good.

There are other pieces that put me in a special "space." And if it takes me there again and again, that's a good thing.

But I'll keep thinking about what music has changed my life. Over dinner.