Tuesday, January 18, 2011

old posts 17

just fussy enough
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"...what is the best way to communicate your intention? "

Since there is usually more than one way to notate anything, I try not to be too fussy so I look for the simplest solution. On the other hand in compositions with theatrical components, well, thats another question.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, March 19, 2008, 9:54:45 AM

I chide them

6 the hard way
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Um, am I the only one who finds it odd that some would chose to debate the interpretation of compositions they have never heard or seen? Composed by composers who intentions we do not fully know or understand?

How many hypotheticals does it take to screw in a light bulb? I know the answer if they are from California!

Phil Fried--something to do with Hot tubs

Wednesday, March 19, 2008, 4:13:19 PM

Ms. Shapiro wants to be above the discussion, my follow up on Frank.

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Nam June Paik

also composed danger music.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, March 19, 2008, 4:25:19 PM

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Nam June Paik

Actually, I think he called it "fear" music.

Phil Fried

Thursday, March 20, 2008, 12:01:03 AM

 The main and unstated point

I go to far
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Frank, while I admire your inclusive taste in music there is a downside to your point of view. By accepting every composer there is also the tacit acceptance of his or her compositional/rehearsal/teaching/personal process.

It is not really possible to know from a composers music alone what that process may or may not be.

Many composers (and others) are wonderful to work with and many have valuable insights to impart; yet some composers (and others) are inarticulate, pedantic, inappropriate, and dare I say it -- abusive. *

 The results may be similar but I know whom I would rather work with.

Phil Fried

*the above sentence  with "inappropriate, abusive, and dare I say it -- dull." ain't so good

Thursday, March 20, 2008, 11:15:18 AM

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sequenza21 reply re-Alex Ross
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 20, 2008 - 01:35 PM


Comment from Phil Fried
Time: March 18, 2008, 2:47 pm

If there is any criticism about Mr. Ross’s book or his reviews its simply this; that his writings reflect the “current” spirit of our “American” times.

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new music performers -full or part time?
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 19, 2008 - 11:29 AM

One of the interesting and missing discussions on New music box and sequenza21 (except seq21 being snide)is about new music performers who do not specialise in new music performance. What I mean is those performers who mostly perform standard repertoire and then always include some new stuff on their concerts. Of course many new music specialists spend a lot of time working with the standard rep-it's only that they are "known" as specialists.

It seem to me that these folks often do a better job on new music than the new music specialists.

Is it because they seem to have much more varied interests?

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new music performers -full or part time?
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 19, 2008 - 11:29 AM

One of the interesting and missing discussions on New music box and sequenza21 (except seq21 being snide)is about new music performers who do not specialise in new music performance. What I mean is those performers who mostly perform standard repertoire and then always include some new stuf on their concerts.  Of course many new music specialists spend a lot of time working with the standard rep-it only that they are "known" as specialists.

It seem to me that these folks often do a better job on new music than the new music specialists.

 Is it because they seem to have much more varied interests?

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NMB replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 16, 2008 - 11:21 AM


2 things
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"This music cannot be sight-read,…. the opera coach he presented it to at the time said that he couldn't make theatrical sense of it….”

Frank, it hard to tell what’s what without the music to refer to, but it seems fair to say that many personal histories are created around traumatic artistic events that then shapes ones future.

For your examples and similar experiences for myself, I chose to fight. Art will always finds a way.

“…A composer friend of mine frequently exclaims that both he and I are not really legitimate composers,..”

We as composers don’t get to chose who is or is not called a composer, not even ourselves.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 10:43:40 AM

a qualifier
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

We as composers don’t "always" get to chose who is or is not called a composer, not even ourselves.  (so the implication is that your "friend"is wrong to disparage himself and others!)


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this weeks mnb replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 7, 2008 - 04:28 PM


all about the noise

uch-uk -uk shhhhhh!
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Any teacher will tell you that listening skills can be the hardest to learn. Besides the group contagion -- I cough, you cough we all cough - there are, unfortunately, many reasons to attend concerts that have nothing to do with listening to the music. Out here in MN several major performing organizations give out free cough drops to each and all—and guess what --it works!

Phil Fried

Ms. x replies a little crochity

By Lisa X - rdlkj@yahoo.com

Common practice for audience behavior has been and will be widely varied and constantly changing. We can discuss best practices if you want. But your concert in DC was special. The director telling the audience what to do is so offensive to me that sabotage might come to my mind if I were ever treated with such disrespect by a musician at a concert.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008, 11:10:51 AM

inside scoop?
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..The director telling the audience what to do is so offensive to me that sabotage might come to my mind if I were ever treated with such disrespect by a musician at a concert..."

What happened Lisa--tell us?

Phil Fried

Tuesday, March 04, 2008, 11:56:09 AM

ah--those spell checkers smell good
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

well.... By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com I was at a new music concert in NYC a few years back and an audience member used a steel dentist pick to scrape her teeth all the way through the performance. (she had a mirror too) No it was not part of the performace.

She sat by herself way up front near the "performers"--you could hear it, anyway an usher asked her to stop at the intermission and she did. Anyway lets not mention those cellophane shopping bags that crinkle and crunch.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, March 05, 2008, 10:17:29 AM



Mr. Grant is at it again

a thought
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I think this thread misses an important point, that there are many different and accepted ways to express “intellectualism” in music. For some the “ideas about music” are more important, and for some the "music" comes first and is the point of departure.

Obviously the results count. I merely speak of approaches.

Phil Fried



about musical fairs

and some details from David Coll

Let's Have a Fair
By Yotam Haber

Tuesday, March 04, 2008, 6:03:03 PM

Haber about to simply walk away at the Rome art fair.

Last weekend, Rome had its first contemporary art fair—beautiful palazzi filled with thousands of artists crammed into booths waiting for a buyer. Given the fact that I have a hard enough time sharing concert programs with another living composer, I shudder at the thought of being treated like an item at the supermarket, buyers milling about searching for something that will go with their wallpaper.

On the other hand, people go to art fairs, and with their checkbooks in hand. Such fairs are nothing new in the history of commoditizing art. But the festive atmosphere certainly has a way of subverting the lofty air of "respectability" associated with the noble occupation, stringently reinforced inside the walls of museums and galleries. However, the problem—if it is a problem—may rest solely on the shoulders of artists. Do buyers see anything wrong with walking up and down aisles shopping for something they like?

Why isn't this happening in the new music world? Is our club still too exclusive? Why not have a composer fair? Some of us would have to suck it up a bit, actually talk to regular folk, not just conductors and concert organizers but doctors, teachers, taxi drivers—who may not know much about new music, simply that they would like a piano duet or trio written for their 12-year-old daughter.

When I go to art fairs I get inspired. So much bad, some good, a little great; all in one space, all new, fresh, exciting. And if I hate a piece, I can simply walk away. I wholeheartedly believe that the time is ripe for us—art music is on the upswing, it’s becoming cool again (or rather, for the first time). Let’s sell some music!

yeah, but
By davidcoll - coll@berkeley.edu

on what wall do we hang it? i'll take the bathroom wall.

the joys of 40 below
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

We got a lot o' festivals up North in the Twin Cities. Including a couple of "arts crawls" that include New Music and all kinds of stuff. Various fringe festivals feature many works that include some of us. Anyway---Come with! Be bold--get into the cold!


Phil Fried

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 1:23:36 PM

a few more details please
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Mr. Coll, since you were just at the Spark Festival here in MN I wondering if you might enlighten us as to the difference between Spark and what Mr. Haber is suggesting? It seems that you disapprove of his idea.

Phil Fried

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 6:54:41 PM

its different
By davidcoll - coll@berkeley.edu

sadly i wasn't able to attend even the majority of spark events, being rather busy w/my technical setup. In addition, spark was my first us festival experience..

the point that i was alluding to w/my earlier comment is just pointing out the obvious- that art can be a decoration while the music we composers usually value can't. I don't think art should be treated as such- well maybe some. If there emerges a "market" where commissions for chamber music become popular, i'd personally shy away from things that pop music or ambient music, "musak" etc do for public spaces such as malls, doctors offices, etc. Functional things, you know? I shy away from that, concentrating on quiet places.

this does put me at odds with some of the spark events, since breaking away from the concert hall is crucial to the spark festival experience. I found myself barraged by music on all ends- even between the pieces during some concerts. Personally I wanted more silence, between and within many of the pieces in the concerts...

am i being clear enough? hope this helps. oh, and call me dave- Phil, were you at the spark festival? What do you think?

Friday, March 07, 2008, 7:28:40 AM

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Thank you David, you are very clear and I think your post explains your point of view. Since one can disagree to anything in a single word sometimes when trying to be succinct our point is lost.

For myself, I have been part of several Cage-ian “music circuses” and enjoyed performing in them.

Questions of exclusivity/inclusiveness in music festivals bring us into the realms of art and musical politics and that is too large a question to be answered here.

I can sympathize with your set up problems since I sometimes work with analog equipment in my performances—I know a 30 minuet [minute]set up for a 10-minuet [minute] performance- Yikkes. I was not at spark this year but I heard some of your music samples on line and was much impressed with your sound.

Phil Fried

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the composer and the office of composer
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 6, 2008 - 09:38 AM

One of the mythologies about the academic composer is that they can have brilliant careers and never be known outside their institutions. 

That is their music will be performed on the various newmusic circuits, aka private parties, etc. Unknown to the public.  This is not usually a problem for those concerned except where there is a desire for public acclaim or interest in those performance mediums that are not automatically given to university composers as a gratuity such as opera. Then they have to deal.

Anyway, the point. 

When I was, please forgive this reference, an important graduate student, I nearly died in a car accident.  So there was an incedible outpouring of sympathy from my university faculty and fellow students. 

Yet this sympathy was not for me personally but for my office "of important graduate student". 

The implied ties of friendship were conditional on a successful academic career.

This was brought back to mind with the recent deaths of several composers and the related blog comments that seemed so inappropriate to me.  This was not just because they, the bloggers, only wanted to talk about themselves but because their comments were not about him/her at all but about the "office of composer/professor/conductor" etc.  

To me that must be the most destructive thing about being an institutional composer, your being is not you but your office.

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assorted nmb replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Mar 1, 2008 - 11:02 AM


on topic
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..Minstrel shows are also responsible for the fact that for a long, long time (and still today) the typical American musical entertainment (vaudeville, theater, and comedy) was built on ethnic stereotypes,.."

Well, hmmm? Ethnic stereotypes have been with us a whole lot longer than that, at least in art,Literature, and theater. The fact that they continue is a shame. For some stereotype busting from an "outside" perspective see the plays of Genet.

Phil Fried

Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 10:07:01 AM

on topic again
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..Phil, you're talking about Genet's The Blacks right? I haven't read that play. .."

Yes, Chris. That work of his, and others, had a important effect on me and on my stage work. My opera The dungeon of Esmeralda is a similar type of work, in a very different context.

(and please forgive the shameless self-promotion)

Phil Fried

Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 11:14:05 AM

free samples!!!
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Ok--even more shameless self promotion. Perhaps, on topic after all!

Lament, from the Dungeon of Esmeralda

You'll get the idea!

Phil Fried

Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 2:52:01 PM



looking forward to it!
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"... perhaps there will come a time when music won't be so marginalized in the media..."

Music confounds and amazes!

Phil Fried

Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 11:01:37 PM



Answer the The Unanswerable Question?
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Sounds like a job for Gertrude Stein.

Phil Fried

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Politics and music
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 29, 2008 - 11:11 PM

Politics and music

It is height of hypocrisy to claim that the politics of the music world is unrelated to world politics.    Composing for gain, under any umbrella is just that. 

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NMB reply Kyle Gann
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 25, 2008 - 04:50 PM


 on the "Vincent who" thread

 I just see red every time a composer is praised, its always in the context of another composer -- usually a serial composer being put down.  Whats good is good. Peroid!

On the Horizon
By Kyle Gann - kgann@earthlink.net

Walter, I think the point of view you express is in the process of becoming more widely accepted. Certainly the idea that mid-century 12-tone composers became overrated to the detriment of more "conservative" composers is becoming commonplace, and has been given especially eloquent treatment in Alex Ross's new book. Sibelius and Britten are being rehabilitated, and I think the American neoclassics will soon be riding their coattails. Seattle conductor Gerard Schwarz (whatever his other problems) has done tremendous service for Hanson, Schuman, Diamond, and Piston, though orchestras in general are slow to champion anything beyond the standard repertoire, and help is more likely to come from musicology (you first of all) before performance catches up. For what it's worth, I think the American neoclassics have suffered less, in general, than European neoclassic composers like Boris Blacher, Wolfgang Fortner, and Dietrich Erdmann, who seem to have been practically obliterated. For me personally, William Schuman was a tremendous hero, his music part of my DNA. I was privileged to have interviewed him by phone and met him afterward, and I really couldn't get by without his 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th symphonies. If you publish a book on Schuman, I will snap it up in a heartbeat. Few good American composers get the attention they deserve from the classical music world, but musicologically the pendulum is swinging in your direction.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 10:47:37 PM

A thought
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..Certainly the idea that mid-century 12-tone composers became overrated to the detriment of more "conservative" composers is becoming commonplace, and has been given especially eloquent treatment in Alex Ross's new book. .."

I suppose that then, as now, everyone wants to be on the winning team. How many composers serial, or otherwise, jump ship when the times get tough? Our own opinions aside, I think the good music will remain no matter what the style.

Phil Fried

Saturday, February 23, 2008, 3:31:05 PM

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composers, place setters and institutions
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 23, 2008 - 02:05 PM

 Old Institutions especially those heavily invested in the social obligations of its boards and contributors continue in this way unabated.  Opera for example.  New music theater has sprung up  to present new possibilities, yet the old forms remain and continue to need their social calendar filled with events like premieres etc. 

This would seem to mean that the opportunities for avant- garde works on a on a large scale would be possible and constant. Sadly, no. Unlike Europe where there it seems there is more interest in different kinds of musical rhetoric, here in the USA institutions have turned away from trained composers almost entirely and now relies on "place holders"  i.e: creators of pseudo musicals, motion music, pop music, and retread Americana.

These reactionary works (though politically neutral, or ironic which means they could mean anything ) are simply defined by the critics as the avant-garde-- problem solved!     Of course this is not really a change at all.  Serial music's short vogue, was the exception that proves the rule.      

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even more nmb replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 22, 2008 - 12:46 PM


on topic... I think?

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I have always had a difficult relationship with commissions and awards. There have been times when, looking back, I drew (what some might call arbitrary) lines in the sand and refused to cross them. This was because I was ambitious for my music but not for myself. I paid a price for this, but I made a choice and stuck to it. Now I can say now that everything that has happened for me is because of my music.

Phil Fried



By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

There seems to be two issues here:

1)the removal of Carl's post
2) the removal of the discussion that followed

As to 1--I am glad that we live in a country that follows the rule of law. I understand Ms. Cossa explanation --and I have no problems with it at all.

As to the removal discussion that followed? Well. it was no different than many of the other discussions on this site which need to be taken with several grains of salt.

As small aside from the NYT :


"...Then there is Lee Siegel’s “Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob,” which inveighs against the Internet for encouraging solipsism, debased discourse and arrant commercialization. Mr. Siegel, one might remember, was suspended by The New Republic for using a fake online persona in order to trash critics of his blog (“you couldn't tie Siegel’s shoelaces”) and to praise himself (“brave, brilliant”). .."

Phil Fried
Thursday, February 21, 2008, 10:33:34 AM



By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I performed a solo work for bass by Persichetti a while back it was solid but it didn't seem to pack the punch that George Perle's Monody for bass did.

"..What other mid-century American composers are sorely in need of a revival?.."

How about reviving Isadore Freed? Oh yes he is a relation.

What about Marion Bauer or Arthur Schnabel's compositions? I've never heard them.

Phil Fried

Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 11:37:25 PM

Obscure Alternatives

By Chris Becker - beckermusic@yahoo.com

Frank - Maybe you or someone on staff could write a column once a month describing the life and work of a composer who may not but should be better known in this community? Even though I am a composer working well outside of the world of wind ensemble or orchestral writing I still find the history of composers of all kinds of music fascinating.

Since it's Black History Month.I've been hoping for a little more writing about African American composers here and on other blogs. Unfortunately, race and gender does play into who gets their historical props and who doesn't. But that is changing in this century...A few links below might be of some interest... http://williamgrantstill.com/wgsbiography/ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/news/libraries/2008/2008-02-05.freeman.html http://www.leonarda.com/composers-LE/comp339.html

Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 9:38:52 AM

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I agree Chris, sounds like a good idea!

Phil Fried

Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 10:13:04 AM

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yet more nmb replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 20, 2008 - 11:09 PM


this thread devolves into some strange other world. too long to reproduce here!

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"...Which reminded me of why I stopped visiting the NMB site - the dialogue on any given day back then basically consisted of interesting and even useful discussions slowly being swamped by personal agenda-driven off-the-wall reactions from egotists whose only reason to be there was because it's the only time anyone actually takes any notice of them, ..."

I'm afraid I'm beginning to agree.

Phil Fried

Sunday, February 17, 2008, 7:07:03 PM

on topic
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I find traveling distracting so I don't compose when I travel. On the other hand I can Orchestrate, correct parts (Some times I have too), or study scores when I travel.

Phil Fried Phil's page

Sunday, February 17, 2008, 7:23:33 PM



sometimes these folks take themselves way too serious.

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"...requisite ultra-slutty looking girl .."

That's my Mom your talking about!

Phil Fried

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sequenza21 reply
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 15, 2008 - 11:11 PM

safety of my keypad.


Comment from Phil Fried
Time: February 16, 2008, 1:06 am

According to their web site:

“Members of the Kennedy Center’s national artists committee, as well as past Honorees, made recommendations of possible Honorees.” So the President and First Lady are involved in the process only as dignitaries to honor the arts. They should. As citizens the White house belongs to all the American people. Its just as much Lincoln’s white house as Andy Jackson’s or you can name any president you love or not. It would seem then that Mr. Fliescher’s comments were made in the right place.

We love free speech.

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mix'in it up Mr. Coll
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 15, 2008 - 08:51 AM

first Colin's post

I Know It When I Hear It
By Colin Holter

Wednesday, February 06, 2008, 11:12:28 AM

I have a confession to make: There's a word I use in reference to music whose meaning I absolutely do not know. No clue. But I probably say this word at least once a day. When I hear a piece that's somehow unsatisfying, that lets me down in a way I can't (or don't want to) articulate precisely, I assert, as if from the judge's bench, that the piece doesn't "work." Conversely, when there's something ineffable about a piece's contour that's especially potent, I might proclaim that this piece does indeed "work." What the hell am I talking about?

Don't play dumb with me. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Just about everybody I know in new music uses this verb. The thing about "works" is that we don't really need to define it until we start disagreeing about what it means. Even though we can't always put our finger on just what that might be, however, a consensus about whether a piece "works" or not isn't usually too hard to achieve. The new music community has a large shared library of expectations that lead us, generally, to judge "works" by roughly the same criteria—even if we disagree on a piece's merit beyond "works." But they call it "new music" because it's new, right? Aren't we also held responsible for questioning the very value system that separates "works" from "doesn't work"?

This is why writing music is so hard: There are millions of ways to write a great old piece and millions of ways to write a great new piece—but the ways to write a great old piece fill every library and record shop in town, and the ways to write a great new piece are concealed by even more ways to write new pieces that don't "work." Doing something both new and good is exceedingly hard, because if it's genuinely new, how will we know whether it's good?

I don't know. We just will.

My comment

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Roger Sessions said:

“Composers are doers of deeds”

Of course every project is different and some work requires more refection than others. Yet, at some point Colin you have to stop thinking about the music and just compose it.

Let the chips fall where they may.

Phil Fried

Thursday, February 07, 2008, 9:50:38 AM

Mr. Coll objects

doers of deeds?

By davidcoll - coll@berkeley.edu

sorry, but thats just bad advice in my opinion- and its not just because i find sessions music largely uninteresting because his later music reflects this same laziness of self-criticism

if a composer feels compelled to ask a lot of questions its because theres they have a real need for it- and if people say its just procrastination, they might have a point- so long as we're all honest w/ourselves it should be alright...

thats my feel-good comment of the day...

Thursday, February 07, 2008, 11:29:02 AM

the lazy I

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"...his later music reflects this same laziness of self-criticism.."

I thought this was more a question of staying on the composition track rather than switching to a related study--many university student composers switch fields because they end up finding other aspects of music more interesting and/or less stressful.

I think if you want to compose -compose!

anyway-- Its easy to break and discard the idols of the past -every generation does it.

Phil Fried

Thursday, February 07, 2008, 11:45:38 AM

Personally I find it hard to believe that a web site dedicated to

American music would not have more responses to an attack on Mr. Sessions, yet no one bothered


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even more nmb replies
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 15, 2008 - 08:45 AM


On listening:

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I strive to be a disinterested listener. The problem is being a composer by its very nature makes me an "interested" listener.

I must learn mediate myself!

Phil Fried

Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 3:02:44 PM



Mark hates digital recordings

too narrow

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Mark, no matter how strong your argument is, or weak for that matter, will not make the folks who disagree with you go away. If you make your argument too narrow then the fur will fly!

I agree that live music is best because I want a direct relationship with performance and performers—but I do happen to like live electronic music and mixed live/electronic performed in said concert halls. Where does that fit in? Jazz bands, for example, amplify the string bass as a matter of course. I think if you look again you might find many exceptions that work quite well. Live and electronic music are not mutually exclusive.

Phil Fried


 Colin wants to write an opera--but considers "new music theater" instead

Make it work!

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..Electronics could put me within striking distance of my opera..."

Well you have to start somewhere and a self contained work is good calling card. Opera these days is not so much about imagination or scale (and stage directors tend to have their own ideas)--its about finding the opportunity. Use the means you have.

Phil Fried

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