I always applaud music organizations that program concerts full of fresh pieces by young composers. Thus, though they may have overshot the mark a bit by programming no less than eleven pieces on Friday, I give due credit to NYC-based Quiet City for an ambitious, eclectic performance of new music.
The evening began with "No Hipster Hats" for trumpet and tape by…
Meg Wilhoite, NY new music blogger, covered the Quiet City Presents show last Friday at the Secret Theatre, upon which I joined a bill of fellow sonic pioneers to present some of the stuff I've been up to recently. I'm happy to repost her writing, which is motivating; I often find it difficult to gauge an audience's interest while in the middle of performing, and so reading that there was visual interest in what I was doing comes as much appreciated feedback. Whereas my personal, internal criticisms are the fuel for seeking improvement, constructive review is a reassurance that I'm communicating with some level of effectiveness.
I'll also take a moment to shout out Luke Schwartz and Vasu Panicker - they're doing something quite cool with the Quiet City music network, and I'm eagerly awaiting their future endeavours.
On an airplane, and I’m searching through my phone’s playlist for things I used listen to but don’t really anymore. I came up with this, in order:
• Eric Ewazen Sonata for Trumpet
• Linkin Park Hybrid Theory
Really happy, then really angry.
I found that when I led off with the Ewazen upper, I was too happy to be angry with Linkin Park, and instead just found myself enjoying the band’s sound. The Ewazen gave me a more detailed emotional narrative so that when I came to Linkin Park, the emotions were not affecting me in any way, yet I still find the literal sound interesting enough to listen on.
The two pieces fulfilled two different functions: Ewazen was entertainment for my heart and brain, which like to be stimulated by finer textures, interesting or unique harmonies and tonalities, more specific emotional material.
LP was entertainment for my [soul?], which likes to hear music and sound purely for the aesthetic qualities.
So, two very different pieces of music performing entirely different functions.
Thanks to Composer’s Circle sharing me on the day’s feature, I thought I’d write a bit about no hipster hats.
This is my first project/prototype in the way of variable-length electronic landscapes. The piece functions by giving the player the freedom to progress through the music via advancing through a long series of “stopping points” constructed inside the music’s infrastructure. At any given point in the music, the performer can stop, decide, “I like the groove here, I think I’ll hang out here for 2 minutes,” and make it so. Or, “I’m not feeling this spot here as much as yesterday; I’ll only spend half the time I spent here last performance,” and make that so as well. Some places are a little more strict in how they must be played through, but assembling the score with multiple sorts of notation systems interwoven with each other. It’s still very much a prototype, which makes it exciting, because I already like where it’s heading and there’s so much more to do. Read More
Everyone in America knows what American pop music sounds like. Here’s what some pop music from a relatively large niche international population sounds like.
Hatsune Miku, the explosively popular pop singer who is literally a synth.
Downtempo/chill beat: (with some awesome Chinese violin)
Pop/rock ballad form:
And my favorite setting for Miku, trance:
Composed with electronic samples both recorded and synthesized, pop melodies are presented in a sonic palette about as wide as YouTube is big, with the common ground in the singer, Hatsune Miku （初音ミク）: a synthesizer in Yamaha’s VOCALOID software with an associative anime character as an avatar. Read More
From my friend Musicuratum across the pond in Amsterdam comes an early review ofKuuMA‘sdebut LP, becoming the moon, and thus breaking the news of a new Sight/Sound project. KuuMA is the moniker of a musician in Kyuushuu whom I first got to know during a semester at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. The album is lushly dense, and as Musicuratum says, “it seems to ask of us a rather different kind of auditory absorption”, and this is the reason I’m bringing this to the Sight/Sound circle. We’ll be bringing out more details about KuuMA’s first album in the coming weeks, but for now, have a listen…
I mentioned two posts ago that good marketing is based on a logical formula that looks like this:
We know you want x
We offer x
Thus we can reasonably project that you will do y
The x is the product you sell, of course, and y is the behavior you expect from your customers, i. e. "We know you want a great night out featuring dining, socializing and high quality artful entertainment.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my roles in publicity and record label sales and how what I have observed can positively affect what I can and should do as a composer. This is a lucidly clear outline of some of the dangerous routes I've observed. It's a little daunting as a member of any organization to ask what it means should the aim be wrong, and as a composer desiring to compose for a living, would you willingly insert yourself into a route in which you can see the best possible outcome is that you have to encounter one of those inevitable roadblocks? That also leads to the question of whether composers, or any artists, ought to be thinking about marketing in a way that would pinch the creative process towards a public preference (eg "selling out").