Tuesday, January 18, 2011

old posts 4

tourist trap
By philmusic

"Equating culture with national pride makes the very notion of an avant-garde seem somewhat quaint, if not downright anti-social."

The domestication of the avant-garde is so well advanced that even folks who never read a word of James Joyce can enjoy a Bloomsday. Or if your in an American mood how about a Hemingway look a like contest?

Hipster tours for downtown NY--go it!!!

I don't think its always a bad for a nation to celebrate its artists--it just thats it always a little too late.

"There is a great difference between arts that spring from the community and arts that are imposed on the community."

The irony here is that - its spoken like a true gatekeeper.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 11:33:26 AM

a conundrum, well maybe not...
By philmusic

I thought that the difference between the approach to the arts in Europe and America went like this:

In Europe they make celebrities out of intellectuals.

In America we make intellectuals out of celebrities

Phil Fried

Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 2:13:44 PM



I don't have much to say here -I wasn't there -but loudness can be an issue.

As long as you mention it.
By philmusic

Perhaps it might be a good idea to have an audiologist familiar with the NMB scene write a column about this?

Phil Fried

Monday, September 15, 2008, 11:18:25 AM

Comments: 0   Edit
this weeks's NMB not a lota
By: Philip Fried Date: Sep 12, 2008 - 04:13 PM

 I haven't had much time this week -what with the negotiations with the Hemingway executors, rehearsal with Colin Corner-and my own solo performances looming.



about the experiance of being part of an audience.

an un can-cany feeling...
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I remember having a lovely dinner in mid-town Manhattan restaurant some years back. The thing was it was mostly a lunch place so it was huge fancy and completely EMPTY.

Actually, it was a little odd to be the only customers in the place. Set up empty tables everywhere.

Like dancers in step but with no music.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 3:36:20 PM


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this weeks nmb round up -new bunny pics on facebook!
By: Philip Fried Date: Sep 6, 2008 - 10:44 AM

New bunny pics from the MN state fair on my face book page


a thought
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Perhaps there is a point where even smart folks can lose their objective distance and become "fans." Then, its just a short skip and jump from being a fan to being a fanatic especially where the business of music has devolved into nationalism and stylistic "teams".

If your famous enough people work for you. So I sometimes wonder if some musicians opinions [those folks part of the famous persons industry for example] are actually their own or merely professional (that is reflective of their team affiliation and their status within it).

On the other hand some composers or performers lend themselves more easily to the "cult of personality" than others. It would seem that a bunker mentality offers the least defense against joining up.

Phil Fried, Skid-roe U.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008, 2:48:24 PM


New blood at NMB

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

My first professional commission was from Louise Basbas and the Corpus Christi Church in NYC for my choral work Psalm 51. Quite an experience for me.

My family connections to religious music go back quite a way as my relative Isadore Freed, (half of my family spells it that way) composed many sacred works.

Glad that you are here Anne.

Phil Fried

Saturday, September 06, 2008, 11:46:22 AM

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NMB stuff
By: Philip Fried Date: Aug 23, 2008 - 09:56 AM


Colin has information, what is the effect on artists?

well maybe...
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

The history of ideas, including critical ideas, run parallel to the history of art as all histories must.

They may intersect, be in conflict, or even be at one at various times.

Yet the trajectory of a artist and the critic are not the same. Nor is the relationship of artists to the prevalent ideas of the time the same either. Every composer, for example, has a different and unique relationship to the ideas of their time. They love them or hate them or ignore them or may even be ignorant of them.

Its also true that the next new idea and critical outlook is just around the corner.

Times do change. Then again the more they change the more they stay the same.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 4:15:01 PM

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Mathew, I don't understand your problem with Colin, as he, as you both represent different relationships to ideas stated.

As for this:

"..He stands unprotected before the winds of change. He stands only on what he has come to love. He is what he loves..."

Besides the "He" problem it could be pointed out that tenured Professors are hardly unprotected from "winds of change." In fact they are deeply insulated-thats the point isn't it?

As for composers and what they "love" I know several composers who are just as motivated by what they, well, dislike. Nothing wrong with that either.

One of the ironies of those who proclaim a hatred of Schoenberg for example is that they tend to indulge in what was his worst "alleged" quality -the intolerance for other musical styles and ideas and a belief that different musical styles are in mortal opposition.

Phil Fried



By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..I've known over the years who a priori reject something if it is such different things as: based on a twelve-tone row; totally improvised; or created exclusively with pre-recorded sound samples.."

Dear me, I work in first two of three of the above! Ouch!

What was I thinking?

Well Frank I wish most people had a open mind like you do.

Phil Fried

Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 7:07:14 PM



A new Blogger!! billy is at it again!-also "Lisa" who with a false name and a false e-mail, offers opinions that are just as, lets say, speculative. I have to agree with Corey on this topic. which quickly gets out of hand. Corey then goes for the jugular hr seems to feel so empowered that no one is allowed to question him. It is odd that Corey has no sense of humor since he writes "funny" songs. odd also to that everyone who disagrees with him is a troll. It's always about him.

welcome !
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Actually, I can't be sure that I hear what you hear.

But, I'm glad your here.

Phil Fried

Monday, August 18, 2008, 8:26:50 PM

self knowledge can be painful
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..After all, what could be more patriarchal than our idealizations of the genius composer with HIS divine inspiration, or the relationships between conductors and musicians..."

Oh, I don't know. Perhaps omnipotent alpha males who pretend to opinions they neither keep nor understand. Or worse perhaps alpha males who pretend that they don't want to be the "boss" of all, that is- patriarchs them selfs.

"..It’s not so much about listening as being the dominate rooster ..."

".. it becomes singular, exclusive, and unable to adapt or accommodate differences..."

That reminds me of some folks blogging styles exactly.

Phil Fried

Grace nails it!!!

By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Grace and Leos!

I'll third that.

Phil Fried,

Thursday, August 21, 2008, 11:24:47 AM

I will stick to it
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"Lisa," a nom de plume, and a fake e-mail address hardly inspires faith in any "alleged" opinions even if I happened to agreed with you.

Also the fact that the Walden school is constantly referenced on this page and advertised on many other music pages would seem to imply that it is surely part of the dominant institutions of learning and music-making. Whats is wrong with that anyway?

Phil Fried

Which witch is which ?
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"Isn't that fair?"

Gee, I don't know "Lisa."

Perhaps you might ask Milli Vanilli?

Phil Fried

Thursday, August 28, 2008, 9:07:13 AM

must I restate?
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Um Corey-"Which witch is which"-is a book by Pat Hutchins--have you read it?

Yes I am male as you are, but we have no way of knowing what gender "Lisa" is. Sorry. "Lisa" might be you or anyone. If I am wrong I apologize.

It seems odd that you want to argue over the supposed politics of the Walden school since neither of us has attended it. Anyway, it seems that a whole lot of mainstream people are connected with it. So we disagree.

I'm sure that the folks at Walden are wringing their hands with despair over this.

Phil Fried

Saturday, August 30, 2008, 4:33:46 PM

final comment here
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Its too easy to cherry pick phrases from a text and twist it to mean the opposite of what was intended. [besides the false info the fake opinions and claiming to have witnessed concerts that they did not attend]

If that is the benchmark for blogging discourse point taken.

Phil Fried

Sunday, August 31, 2008, 12:30:44 AM

Comments: 0   Edit
ok NMB again-with an exception!
By: Philip Fried Date: Aug 15, 2008 - 11:03 AM

OK folks I decided not to interfere with the Wagner nonsense here:


I don't care for the respondents at all and when I warned ACD privately about the school yard bullies billy and ryan -he was patronizing.

The problem for me is that, besides the obvious ignorance and matchbook cover research, the avatars known as WO and RT do not care about nor act upon the opinions they pretend to hold -rather they just want attention and further, and I can only speculate perhaps because of their own personal bitterness, they want to kill all reasonable conversation.



What else?
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Why Blitzstein's Airborne Symphony of course!

Phil Fried

Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 5:58:45 PM



Kyle replies-more about his personal vision--yet his reply is a reminder that even downtown --there is a pecking order. Guess who is on top!

I agree
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..the "simple-complex" continuum is a very tidy way to understand developments in contemporary music:.."

Art, like life, is never tidy.

Phil Fried

Wednesday, August 13, 2008, 3:20:23 PM

 nota bene

For a number of years now cultural "critics" have taken aim at famous classical composers, and music types, making many extravagant claims about them and their music. Due to their academic positions outside  music departments or the music industry these "opinions" (no matter how controversial) are always risk free. They are also "headline grabbing" in a way esoteric scholarship can never be.

The question remains whether this type of "imaginative" scholarship adds any lasting insight.

Comments: 0   Edit
this weeks nmb-plus a poem
By: Philip Fried Date: Aug 1, 2008 - 05:08 PM


odd topic odd replies -my attempts to be "real" are subverted by everyone! By the way Kyle will not answer Ryan after the his last "invented opinion." Nor did I realise just how hatefull Billy is. My thought on uptown/down thing are in my review of Mr. Argue way below.

Confessions of a curmudgeon composer
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

Frank, I know that anything is possible in music-anything. Also, I reject a sonic prejudice based merely on style alone. That said I do reserve the right to like and dislike as I please. Then again its never a style but perhaps particular practitioners of that style.

I know myself and some of the reasons I like and dislike some ones music are not necessarily rational.

In fact my opinions are informed by many unmusical factors including: personal interactions, snubs, high handedness, fair dealing, helpfulness or not, and sometimes (to my own disadvantage) just to prove my own independence.

Finally I understand one important point-

I can be wrong.

Phil Fried, plunk'in the bass again

Tuesday, July 29, 2008, 8:45:27 PM

ok-foreced to listen? I mean really!

my apologies in advance
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I was forced to love Boulez

I had to do what Mama says

Or she made me wear a Fez

I had to listen to Boulez

I tried to make my big escape

I had a boat out by the cape

But Mom was in much better shape

I had to listen bound with tape!

The records snapped and popped

This was no teen-age record hop!

I couldn't make the music stop

Mom was a "new music cop"

Why did I ever move to France?

Was it coincidence by chance?

That I should take it on the lam

from the agents of IRCAM!

Now I've learned to handle Mom

and I do it with aplomb.

So I take a different tack

and complain behind her back!

Phil Fried--sorry

Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 10:10:18 AM

I ignore billy this time but Kyle by way of-- "lisa" who I think is....CD?

now that you mention it...
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

"..that as the amount of complex, opaque music in the world grows, the time available for the dramatic needs of his own contribution shrink in proportion..."


There is always room at the top!

Phil Fried

Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 2:10:40 PM

life after school
By philmusic - philmusic@aol.com

I'm not sure I'm getting this new thread right but,

America is a country (and I think the only one) where a career as a composer is not dependent on either academic standing or position.

Its true that many of my performances involve the academy indirectly; some of my best friends are professors and independent/non college performance spaces are comparatively few.

I won't tell tails out of school about tails within it. My own experience there was singular, but much of academic life at that time seemed to be about personal ambition and the luck of choosing or being chosen by the "right" team.

As a composer outside the academy the only pressure I feel is artistic.

Phil Fried

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more NMB
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 13, 2009 - 04:31 PM


"...and it's true that sitting one out on the bench doesn't tank your
carreer...writing some lame, half-assed sketch of a piece does..."

I'm not so sure about that.  Among the many composers I know - getting the "job"  and
keeping it comes before all other considerations.

This is the professional mindset and not to be confused with artistic judgements.

This does not imply that successful composers are making artistic compromises for that commercial
success.  We have had these discussions before its just that some composers
have a knack for the pulse of now.  More power to them. <br><br>
Yet, if one allows for the many opinions composers have for each others
work, not just their own,  the very opposite is true.  To paraphrase a well
know composer -

Not only is 3rd rate composition tolerated-its demanded.

Comments: -1   Edit
Back from NY more NMB roundups.
By: Philip Fried Date: Feb 6, 2009 - 07:23 PM

It seems that its the same converstaions again and again folks pretending to have opinions being "bad" saying dumb and dunber thnngs so I get w-ell you'll see:


By philmusic

"...A charge that was raised herein, and one which frequently gets raised by folks who are anti-modernist, is that modernism engages in a willful obfuscation with the audience..."










credit swap

Am I getting warm?

Phil Fried

Monday, February 02, 2009, 7:50:59 PM

Comments: 0   Edit
NYC performances!! not much NMB
By: Philip Fried Date: Jan 16, 2009 - 05:29 PM

 Phil's NY performances

Music on MacDougal
Music/Arts - Concert
Time and PlaceDate:   
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Players Theatre
115 MacDougal St.
Contact InfoPhone:   


Event InfoHost:   
Music/Arts - Concert
Time and PlaceDate:   
Friday, January 30, 2009
8:30pm - 9:30pm
roulette intermedia
20 Greene Street (between Canal and Grand Streets).
East New York, NY
View Map
Contact InfoPhone:   



Phil's term for newly composed short term disposable opera:




 A little levity:

On the other hand...
By philmusic

"..What if my treble dial has fallen off for good?.."

As some of us know Colin, Its all about the bass!

Phil Fried Phil Fried

Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 10:58:29 AM



a thought or 2
By philmusic

Frank, you cover a lot of ground on this one so I will give my answers in reverse.

As a listener I believe in no sonic prejudice, that does not mean that I like everything I hear. Rather I try to experience each work on its own and as openly as I can. Easy for me as I have no team to support. (For me its not serial composers right or wrong.)


Most composers I know have a positive attitude in spite of the many rejections prevalent in our business.

It must be remembered that Pollyanna was not a "ninni" but a survivor. Yes a positive attitude is a good thing, then again, so is talent.

Phil Fried

Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 7:09:29 PM



Phil's patented operatic resume stuffer
By philmusic
Colin: I composed an opera titled:

Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

This work has two singing parts:

Major Roles and Prima Donna

So If you perform my work you can add to your resume:

Performed Major Roles in Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

Or the Prima Donna in Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

Phil Fried

Comments: 0   Edit
reply to Edward Ortiz
By: Philip Fried Date: Jan 8, 2009 - 11:41 AM


Something about this article rubbed me the wrong way. Not the ideas because clearly grand opera and chamber opera are different genres that need different approaches.

The subject of New Music Theatre, though not mentioned, is fair to avoid in this context.

 Its not the facts eaither.  It is reasonable to assume that recent music might be more expensive than warhorses.  Though with all the variables of an opera production the figure of 4 times the cost for a new work (verses a new production of an old one for example )seems a little, well, suspect. One is reminded of the Vinyl shortage of the 1970 as a reason for the lack of new album releases.

What bugs me is this; the implicit acceptance of the operatic institutions and gate keepers as the nexus of the operatic art.  Composers at best come in as a poor third place and thats only when they create works that are an "easy sell."

Well include me out.

Phil Fried



a thought or 2
By philmusic

Frank, you cover a lot of ground on this one so I will give my answers in reverse.

As a listener I believe in no sonic prejudice, that does not mean that I like everything I hear. Rather I try to experience each work on its own and as openly as I can. Easy for me as I have no team to support. (For me its not serial composers right or wrong.)


Most composers I know have a positive attitude in spite of the many rejections prevalent in our business.

It must be remembered that Pollyanna was not a "ninni" but a survivor. Yes a positive attitude is a good thing, then again, so is talent.

Phil Fried

Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 7:09:29 PM



Phil's patented operatic resume stuffer
By philmusic

Colin: I composed an opera titled:

Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

This work has two singing parts:

Major Roles and Prima Donna

So If you perform my work you can add to your resume:

Performed Major Roles in Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

Or the Prima Donna in Leading Opera houses in the United States and Europe.

Phil Fried

Comments: 0   Edit
Doctor Atomic on TV
By: Philip Fried Date: Dec 29, 2008 - 10:09 PM

I suppose that I was disappointed in this work, yet not in the way that I expected--simply put I was bored.  In this work the music, character, and voice were subsidiary to the visual concept.

First --thank god for the pan and scan cameras and those close ups or this work is dead in the water. Also without the supertitles most text would not be understood.


   1. Unmotivated activity:

The elements of theater do not align-

Music does not reflect the text, the text avoids the story

--unmotivated stage business and staging, unmotivated text, unmotivated music.
Scene 2 almost works but why do the two Oppenheimer's suddenly start fighting?

there are no text or musical clues for this or any other dramatic occurrence.

The music gets intense-yet the text is placid -the text gets intense-the music ignores it.

   1. Orchestrally no obbligatos only accompaniments
   2. All the accompaniments are ostinotos
   3. constant syllabic text settings except for 2 notes at the end of every phrase, the women provide some relief, but not much as the melizmas are not on text but open vowel
   4. the vocal lines have the effect of a typewriter
   5. many vocal parts don't seem composed just improvised over the changes and in a hurry.
   6. -text high points are not also musical ones
   7.  odd text choices for musical high points at that.
   8. colorless meandering vocal lines, very similar, that all the characters use
   9. no duets, no real ensembles. 
  10. Though I appreciate the use of the concept I call "context" in -batter my heart -this almost works, like Les Miz works, because of the text and music repetitions -yet again this goes on way too long. Also the success could be due to the excellent performance (a la Les Miz) in spite of the composition. Also Batter my heart is a real poem. This helps.
  11. The chorus was impossible to understand
  12. Inexperienced text writers, who look to Rock Opera, rather then grand opera, for its models.
  13. instrumental composer composing theatrical vocal music again
  14. the vocal music is never reflected or imitated in the orchestra

   1. every story detail is expressed the same emotional level

   1. the seams of the work's construction are very visible

The instrumental segues are interesting but seem made up of modernistic "effects" and though they sonically provide contrast and underscoring they frame scenes that they are also divorced from.  Even here they the music is subservient to the set changes.

All this guilt about an event that according to many folks saved 500,000 American lives.  This work also avoids many interesting side issues such as racism, or the Japanese experience within the work. The tack on at the end, with no emotion (irony), suggests that this is opera for the art crowd not for musicians.

The most important theatrical moment, the end,  is not musical.

Other important theatrical musical moments are instrumental and not sung.

When there is music it does not explain the characters and the characters do not interact except as a staging device. 

I think we have to look at what it takes to get a new opera done at the Met, or anywhere else for that matter. I wish I could say that the standard is high.  This seems like an opera it just has no core. Perhaps the use of the term avant garde is just an excuse to sweep the dramatic failings under the rug-or perphaps this work is the true representation of its generations feelings.  No feelings at all.

I'm afraid that only those who have a knack for getting high profile performances are the ones who can get an opera performed these days. Believing that skill as a vocal composers would be a factor in this is naive. Sigh. The Met was willing to use a director that had no opera experience.  So why not a composer? Repeating the same mistakes each time does not equal experience.

One doesn't have to wonder at the critics positive reviews to this work-- its their schadenfreude at the impotence of the Modernist composers to get anything like this on board themselves.--still Berg and Schoenberg are in the opera repertory.This is spite of Mr. Adams positioned himself as the antidote to modernism. Actually there is much in common with this work and Mr. Carter's recent opera. Still, in Carter the music comes first.

The styles have changed and new gods are worshiped.

Oddly this work takes the musical delicatessen approach.

One is perhaps a little shocked that since the "met" has traditionally performed 3rd rate new music in its time, that this and other recent works are not included in this category.  Why?  Snob appeal perhaps? Fear of missing the boat?  Professionalism is a given at the Met in all production areas but composition is something else again. Composers are not in house.

Why do so many folks who claim to be "outsiders" need to look up to an obvious insider as a "leader?"  Outsiders can't get performed at the Met.  It was bad enough when Boulez pretended to be the inside outsider.  I still like his music. I can't say the same thing for Mr. Adams.

Music- D+

Character -F

Voice (vocal writing -- not the singing) - F

Extra Credit: direction, performances, costumes, sets, A+

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