Why can't composers' prose be more imaginative, more lively? Why do articles, program notes, blog items, and websites tend to read like grant and job applications or Rotary club laudatios? Time was, when composers — Ives, Cage, Jerry Hunt, Robert Ashley come straight to mind; hell even Babbitt at his most thorny — could shine in words as well as sounds, experimenting in form, syntax, style and vocabulary, unafraid to push the conventional limits of making sense, making language more like music. Is our present moment so conservative, so institutionalized that composers who can throw caution to the wind with their music rush to cover of safe but dull sentences in well-formed paragraphs in well-formed essays, formed, well, to the model set forth by your 7th grade English teacher? We can do better and if we value our music we should do better by showing through our words that our sounds are indeed special, out-of-the-ordinary.
*The title for this item plays on the famous section of Richard Ohmann's English in America, in which, among other things, the uniform style, rhetoric and form of bureaucratic documents (like the The Pentagon Papers) are sourced to their origins in mass collegiate English composition instruction.