Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lets hate the arts

 For a while now I've had a sneaking suspicion that people who should know better are taking an axe to the arts.  This includes rich non profit executives who have a single vision of the world and their enablers.  Peter, a composer, has no interest in using music as a solution to the problems his nonprofit seeks to solve.    Bill Gates refuses to support the arts.  Oddly though they both support public school curriculum reform and both approaches are arts free!! 

Schools without arts that will make the world a better place.

Here we have a false choice.  Supporting the arts kills children.  Really?  Shameless.

What about El Sistema?
Why not pick on the pet owners?  What is obvious to me is the idea of a "healthy productive life" as Bill Gates proposes is joyless. 

My response re-posted here

Can art feed hungry people? No, it cannot. "

Sometimes it can ---many folks earn a living in the arts.
In addition El Sistema has brought many people out of poverty.

Monday, December 31, 2012

last posts for the new year

Phil Fried says:
“..It’s imperative that any composer who still harbors such ideas shed them..”

This seems in line with my favorite philosopher Emily Peck. Who said:

Everyone parrots [the words] be yourself, be yourself. What is this precious self anyway?
I’m sure that know one doubts that there is plenty of success to be had avoiding innovation and history. I believe its called maintaining the status quo.


Phil Fried says:
“…have devalued, if not destroyed, the role of melody…”

As a composer of serial music for over 30 years that, at least in my and my listeners estimation, features melody this is news. 

Of course one could argue that I am mistaken as to the content and the style of my own work. Sigh. Music, including serial music,is a living thing that is constantly changing. 


Phil Fried says:
Trying to reconcile an individual composer’s experience with their generation, or with their generation of composers, experience is a life long search. 

Every composers experience is unique.

Phil Fried says:
I do like this comment MJL. Some teachers are so indirect and some artists enjoy overcoming obstacles.


 Phil Fried says:
There is financial success and artistic success as well. Both can happen at once, yet, not too frequently. Its too easy to point a laser beam at a group of artists and call successful because they are conservative. That merely perpetuates the myth. The fact is there are many other successful artists outside that laser beam who are ignored.
Phil Fried

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Phil Fried says:
— your implication that these failings can be attributed in whole (or even in greater part) to computer engraving applications is fallacious.
I believe you misread the comment here.
I thought Mr. Fetherolf’s point was that composers who were unfamiliar with hand copy, who have worked only with computers made more engraving errors. This seems reasonable.


Phil Fried says:
Its interesting to look at a vocal work from an instrumental point of view. We seem to be talking about Pierrot’s orchestration as if the singer/actor and the voice was not part of the balance equation. There are many ways for a singer to approach this work and questions of balance, naturally, hang on this. Vocal fach or type such as opera singer,choir soloist, or spoken actress, various levels of combinations of these.
I love Lucy Shelton’s approach. I’ve heard her perform it three time live. Yet Schoenberg recording with an actress, which I also love is very different.
Freedom of expression for the voice, and the vocal composer, starts here and for me that is much more important than the creation of a new ensemble type that continues to this day.
Though I suppose that’s not too bad either is it?
Phil Fried

Saturday, May 26, 2012

blog a lot

 This is a self described term.  These folks don't want to be associated with Schoenberg or Babbitt, they also wish to mask their own university connections. 

Phil Fried says:
I agree that there is a certain anxiety in the term “alt-classical.”
This draws a distinction away from “new music”
So for example; why not alt-new music?

In any event the light classics must be allowed to reinvent themselves.
The problem is that “light” as in “new music light” would seem a pejorative.


“indie” is really telling you what it ISN’T: it’s not produced by large corporate entities… 
If you include in your definition of “large corporate entities” institutions such as universities, as I do, then the exact opposite is true.


Phil Fried says:
Be your own gatekeeper? 


Yet even with the “self made” ensembles mentioned here connections with major institutions are implicit and have never been despised (though oddly not mentioned).
Composers compose. Happily some composers have a body of work that possess a natural proclivity to find resonance with the public. 

On the other hand attempts to “science” that public resonance through any means necessary can certainly be achieved, but for what result?

 Phil Fried says:
This claim that learning business skills somehow results in bad art is ridiculous....

I agree. Yet the ratio between the quality of the product and the quality of the marketing tends to vary.

Phil Fried says:
Good luck at Starbucks….. 

I might point out Jessica that even for a professional marketeer your response is way harsh. You might have said that blogging in itself is marketing. It is. You could point out that many universities etc. do their own publicity in house so for them folks marketing is unavoidable. Also, Dennis has his own radio show which is not a bad place for product placement, that is new music. In fact Dennis is actually quite good at marketing himself.
Why then the fuss? Well for some that’s because the unfortunate image of the composer as a glad handing, log rolling careerist is not easily displaced even by those who would be curmudgeons.

Myself included. 


I do love coffee. (see the picture).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

somethings missing

 It seems that another round of status quo celebration on NMB this time about music ed. as composition is part of the national k-12 curriculum.   I've talked about this before.  
  1. We have fewer music students and fewer music jobs. 
  2. Artists in residence can bring publicity and some short term benefit to music programs but cannot sustain them.
  3. We have no time to teach composition as other subjects take precedence.
  4. Disconnect between what is taught in music ed. and what actually happens in schools.
  5. Thousands of Music ed. folks feel they are composers and completely qualified to teach this subject as they like.
  6. The strong possibility that classroom teachers, that is folks with limited or no music training, will teach music classes.
  7. The national standards have no teeth, in Minnesota the teacher (music specialist or not) decides how a standard is to be interpreted. 
  8. In education the teacher who is most important has the fewest students.  Result: education policy is created top down by those with the least recent, or no, experience.
  9. Did I mention room space and equipment and funds?
  10. NCLB is killing music programs.
  11. States (Mass.) are moving away from their own State Education licensing authority and mandates and outsourcing to national"entrepreneurs."   Essentially cutting the education schools out of teacher creation.  
  12. Today education policy is created by politicians, not by educators. Educators are merely left holding the bag. 
  13. The erroneous proposition that What works in private and lab  schools will necessarily work in public schools.  
  14. Billionaires (some college drop outs) with an axe to grind are buying their way into education policy.      

Phil Fried says:
For me words can fail to describe the intrinsic nature of music. For example my 2nd symphony is based on long and short durations. Not very descriptive is it? Generic? Sure, and there are many different ways to approach this.
Then again what is crucial is the composition itself.

Friday, April 20, 2012

more more more

Phil Fried says:
“..all of these pieces have in common a treatment of the form as a sort of HISTORICAL artifact and not a living, breathing form…”


In my experience the large ensembles (orchestras and opera) have a better track record of style representation than American chamber groups (which tend to stick to a single style of new music). The Minnesota orchestra has commissioned serial music from me I’m still waiting for Bang on a Can.


Music is not in stasis and any art which reaches a point of stasis is dead. This makes the making composition lists well controversial. At best one can only mark the signposts on the way.

 Phil Fried says:
“folk music being appropriated into a formal constraints…” 

“If anything they’re appropriating classical music traditions into pop.”

“Leave it to an American to take a scholastic project of limited 
merit and magically transform it into a vast new opportunity for personal networking enrichment.” 

(3 points noted in reverse order)

I myself might have made the above comment, yet as someone who also studied composition in Europe I know that the exact same stuff goes on there too. I mean really? 

Unlike America; Europe, Canada too, has “official” composers.

The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble and Ars Nova were both known as classical crossovers many many years ago. I noticed no furrowed brows at that time. What made them such was their hardcore mainstream classical training. I would have a hard time accepting any musician who claims to represent a tradition without something more than mere success. 

To suggest that popular music has no constraints is puzzling.


Phil Fried says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
“…but to teach only the composers discussed in someone else’s textbook…”
“ place these pieces in context, and make our complaints into curricula…”

I’m sure your not trying to be high handed, but you don’t seem to have considered the possibility that some of us are in no way connected to a college or University or will ever be. So my point of view is not as teacher but as a artist/composer trying to define myself; to find my own context. 

What curriculum do we represent? 
 So for me this can never be a “professional” discussion. 

Its personal.