Lesson one for young composers: Not everyone will love your music, and some people will decide that you, too, are unloveable, because of your music.
Lesson two for young composers: Get over lesson one and get on with your own work.
Lesson three for young composers: Should people in positions of real economic or political power within the musical community use their dislike for your music and/or person as a basis for exercising their power, then feel free to call them on it, even if the stakes are modest. Keep cool, speak clearly and loudly about this, but do not expect lasting change and make concrete plans for the independent material and moral support of your work.
Lesson four for young composers: Having wrestled with the authorities, get back on with your own work.
The most rewarding part of this blogging experience has been the exchange and conversation with musicians and people who like music who happen to inhabit very different corners of New(andnotsonew)musicland. I'm continually surprised by the amount of fruitful practical, technical, and aesthetic exchange I can have with someone who writes tonal music for windband or modal music for church choirs or who specializes in big bands or rock or computers or hardware hacking or is a serious student of film music or even hard-core opera fans or barbershop quartet singers. The only lasting conflicts I've encountered online have actually come from people with musical repertoire interests closest to my own. I guess that this is sometimes just a matter of strongly territorial competition, or fear of too much oxygen been consumed in a very small space, but it's mostly just a side effect of caring so much about the music and the ideas behind it: one can come to identify with some music or have the feeling that they own it, with all the exclusive rights associated with ownership. This often leads, to my ears, to a dangerous intolerance for a diversity of viewpoints, which is hardly the most useful viewpoint for an experimental musician. I have myself been guilty of this, and if you find me at it again, please call me on it!
If you write tonal or modal music, there will be partisans of music which is not tonal or modal who are unhappy with your work. If you write music that is not tonal or modal, there will be those who do who are unhappy with your work. If you write tonal music, there will be other tonal composers who are unhappy with your particular technique or syle of tonality. If you write music which is not tonal, there will be other not-tonal composers who are unhappy with your particular technique or style of not being tonal.
If you write music, there will always be someone who is unhappy with your music for being too complex and there will be someone else who is unhappy with your music for being not complex enough. If you use a system or method, some people will be unhappy; others are unhappy if you don't use a system or method, and still other are unhappy if you use the "wrong" system or method. There will be people unhappy if you write music with catchy tunes and rhythms or refer to any other repertoire, classical, popular, or outside of the immediate historical and cultural context. There will also be people who are unhappy if you write music that doesn't do any or all of these things. There are people who are unhappy with music that is not active enough or diverse enough in content or character and there are people who are unhappy if they find music to be too active or too diverse. There are people who are only happy when music is neatly packaged while there are other people who are most unhappy when they find music to be too neatly packaged. There are people who are only happy when music contains some intellectual, cultural, and/ or emotional depth and there are people for whom happiness only comes with music that entertains and goes away without disturbing the soul.
If you write music for instruments there will be those who are only happy with music for voices, and the same goes in reverse. If you use "extended" techniques with voices or instruments, some people will be unhappy; if you don't use "extended" techniques, other people will be unhappy. If you write music using electronics, there will be souls who become unhappy anytime they see a power cable or even a dry cell in a concert hall, while there are others who are unhappy anytime they don't see an electric power source. If you bend circuits there will be people who are unhappy because you're not using a computer, the big computer people have always been unhappy with the small computer people, and there are some people who are unhappy when you do not use the same Mac laptop model.
There are some people who are unhappy if you use an alternative tuning, while there are others who are unhappy if you do not. There are people who are only happy when they hear an accordion or a vibraphone and there are people who are unhappy when they hear a cowbell or a vibraslap. Some people are only happy in the presence of vibrato, others are happy only in the absence of vibrato. There are people who are only happy with live music and there are people who are only happy with a broadcast or recording. There are some people who are only happy when music is played a certain way or by certain musicians. There are some people who simply are not ever happy with music.
It is difficult, very difficult, when the music one makes and loves does not make others happy. But when you are in a position to recognize there are some people who will never be made happy by music and others for whom their musical happiness is predetermined by a categorical preference for this or dislike for that, isn't this an opportunity to recognize that these people are lost causes, and it's better to treasure and cultivate people who still have their ears open than to worry about, let alone make music for, lost causes?