Sunday, September 02, 2007

Paying attention

Another easy-going Sunday morning: I read through an astonishing number of blog items and an equally astonishing number of webpages by composer colleagues, several of them previously unknown to me and many, if not most, of them are actively doing interesting work in areas different from my own interests. What a change from generations past! Back in the dim ages, a lot of new music was near-secret knowledge with scores and recordings handled as precious goods (I have near complete sets of Partch and Webern scores, copied by hand from libraries, back in the days when scores were hard to buy and expensive and even paper route money didn't go far with 25-cent-per-page photocopy machines). All the books about new music available in my local public libraries got worn out and memorized from multiple checkouts and readings. Same with all the recordings, from Louisville, Advance, CRI, Gate Five etc.. Journals about new music came and went, were hard to subscribe to, and then disappeared from library archives (Source, Soundings, Ear (West and East), Xenharmonikon, Interval...). Tracking down that October issue with Nyman's article Against Intellectual Complexity in Music or that British art journal with the Lucier feature or gathering a complete set of the Lovely Little Records or Obscure records became great sport. Now that everything is, or is becoming, more readily available, the liveliness of the scene has more than compensated for the loss of the veil of secrecy and obscurity. And paying attention to the work of a colleague who writes principally for film or choir or windband, for opera or electronica, or who is less uptight than me about vernacular and commercial genres is interesting and can be done now in a way that is fundamentally non-competitive.

Yep, another easy-going Sunday morning: now, if I could only arrange for delivery of the LATimes and a bag of bagels.

(image: Yankee Samizdat Webern, ca. 1976)

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