Posts Tagged ‘art music’

Working for the King

Working for the King

the mixing process has been keeping me busy every day of this summer and the main goal this time is to learn a higher level of mixing skills. for my first two albums my skills limited to mainly recreating a live performance, but this time i’m ‘the studio’ to create a unique sense of space and sound for each piece. the big change for me occurred this spring when i became more interested in photography and finally realized that photo editing programs like photoshop and aperture were just sophisticated equivalents and extensions of the traditional darkroom in which creation of a photograph didn’t end when the shutter clicked.

with that in mind i have been learning new techniques that are far beyond the limited mixing strategies i have used in the past (using mainly volume and reverb automation), and with the help of a few pros looking over my shoulder i’m learning to embrace the mixing process as an extension of each composition. please don’t think i’m attempting to create a george martin/phil spector/brian wilson production and the best way to describe my approach is that i’m using audio software (protools) as my darkroom to create a collection of music that is not a simulation of a live performance but really a ‘heightened reality’.

in the big picture i know this isn’t a new or earth shattering accomplishment (many rock bands have been doing this for years), but because all this music was created (composed, rehearsed, performed, recorded, and mixed) outside the usual channels of art-music presentation and the fact that i didn’t have to ask for ‘permission’ (through grants, commissions, and fundraising) shows that there are other ways to make art music outside the current long-running tradition of patronage and ‘working for the king’ the main example of why i’m calling the album ‘alt-classical’

Bookmarks from July 12th through July 19th

Bookmarks from July 12th through July 19th

“What went wrong here?” is an unpopular question with the type of city fathers and civic boosters for whom convention centers and pedestrian malls are the answers to all society’s ills but Harvey captured and chronicled every day what was–and will always be–beautiful about Cleveland: the still majestic gorgeousness of what once was–the uniquely quirky charm of what remains, the delightfully offbeat attitude of those who struggle to go on in a city they love and would never dream of leaving. What a two minute overview might depict as a dying, post-industrial town, Harvey celebrated as a living, breathing, richly textured society.”

link: Anthony Bourdain’s Blog

Video by Satan’s Pearl Horses
Featuring Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes
More info here: Little Death: Vol. 1
by Matt Marks Directed by Rafael Gallegos
July 8-11, 14-17 2010
Incubator Arts Project

“So to me it seems that in banning the word classical we need to have some kind of agreement as to what we think it is we do that we wish to describe differently. “Classical“ clearly fails in 2010 as an a term of aggregation. “Classical” succeeds in maintaining a now elderly participant base for concert presentation, but fails in nearly other aspect of differentiation. Is there a coherent (though divergent) ‘classical’ music practice that could be better described with a single other word/phrase? Or is the suggestion that the discrepant musical discourses and modes of presentation would be better served through the disaggregation that the abandonment of the term classical would afford? These are both deeply philosophical and deeply practical questions.”

link: Ban the word “Classical” « Elissa Milne

“The university police department — about 10 officers and 2 detectives — don’t even know what an IP address is. I even contacted the local FBI office and they said they’re ‘not interested’ in the case despite it now crossing state lines. Am I chasing my own tail here? How can I get someone to pay attention to the fact that all the police need to do is file some RIAA-style paperwork to find the name associated with this IP address and knock on the right door to nab a criminal and recover my property? How can I get my laptop back — and more importantly — stop this criminal in his tracks?”

link: Slashdot Ask Slashdot Story | Retrieving a Stolen Laptop By IP Address Alone?

“Toward the end of our conversation in Birmingham, Donohue began to talk about the challenges of leading an organization. “The CEO in a major company now, if he lasts five years, he’s a hero,” Donohue said. It was clear that he was in part talking about himself. But Donohue has already lasted twelve years as Chamber president, and at the beginning of his tenure the board amended the bylaws to extend the mandatory retirement age past sixty-five. In 2009, he traveled 166 days of the year, coaxing open checkbooks, visiting twenty-seven states, and giving seventy-five speeches. All of this bodes well for his staying power. Still, “I am not powerful,” he said at one point. “The institution is powerful. If I walked out of the Chamber tomorrow, wouldn’t anybody return my phone calls except for a couple of my friends.” Given the anti-corporate rhetoric among Republicans, and the backlash against him in other quarters, this is a contingency he should consider. But for the moment Donohue is still the undisputed master of getting corporate giants to show him the money. And in a Washington that runs on money, that show must go on.”

link: Show Him the Money – James Verini

“I still think that if something is available for sale legitimately, you should pay for it (books, music, photos, movies, sheet music). A lot of the Bach, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff in Mr. Hawley’s collection is certainly available, and handing it to friends on a flash drive is absolutely depriving the publishers of their revenue. True, the composers are long dead, but editing and publishing sheet music is still worth something. It’s those obscure, out-of-print, not-available-anywhere items in his collection that make a tougher case. How many hours are you obligated to research and dig just to find out if something is available for sale? In this case, the barriers to a legitimate purchase are ridiculously high. Isn’t digital piracy justified in that case? Let me know what you think in the comments.”

link: No Easy Answers in the Copyright Debate – Pogue’s Posts Blog –

“Composition, contemporary composition, is where reviewing comes to life. Complaining about interpreters, or rooting for them, however legitimate, is just fidgeting. Criticism joins the history of its art only when it joins battle, for or against, with the music of its time.” — Virgil Thomson, 1974

link: Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: Quote of the day

Bookmarks from Saturday June 19th-Friday June 26th

Bookmarks from Saturday June 19th-Friday June 26th

“Riches can be lost, fame can flee, but music — ephemeral as it is, just molecules of air being pushed about — stays with you. It really doesn’t get any better than this.”

link: Renewable Music: No greater pleasure

“You might have thought that with the chief of police and all those command officers present that the operation would have been run more smoothly. If that was indeed your expectation you are not a police officer, certainly not one with the LAPD. Police officers everywhere know, and LAPD officers might know best of all, that the degree of success in any tactical operation is in inverse proportion to the number of command officers present. Seldom has this proven more true than in downtown Los Angeles Thursday evening. I even saw, while running to one trouble spot with my colleagues, an assistant chief who was also running, but in the opposite direction. (It was just as well; he only would have been in the way.)”

link: Pajamas Media » What I Saw at the Lakers Riots

“In my second year I worked as his teaching assistant. CalArts had no grades, but we did have pass, high pass or fail. John’s system was if we went down the roster and could remember the person, we passed them. If we could remember the person and the work, it was a high pass. If we couldn’t remember them, we failed them, but if they came back and argued for another grade, they would pass. It was a brilliant system that could never work today.”

link: John Baldessari’s former students share memories –

“I don’t want to be like Henry Moore,” he said, “just making big monuments for public spaces, like the one beside the Met on the piazza over there. Yet I’m currently involved in a piece I didn’t want to do, for a major American orchestra I have a long history with. I wanted to write a string quartet, but this orchestra is having its centenary and they really pleaded. Eventually I had to give in.”

link: John Adams: ‘I just don’t know what to say about American classical music’ | Interview | Music | The Observer

“I have yet to eat at the Kogi truck or any of the “new” catering trucks. I will not dare turn my back on my beloved loncheras, so I haven’t had the opportunity to taste their food, a fusion of Asian and Mexican, enter The Red Hot Kitchen. I never thought that eating a tofu burrito would be so delicious. And the salsa ? Mathematical.”

link: LA Eastside » Red Hot Kitchen

“The main problem is that most of the places in 90042 that are good to watch the deportes, are not the places that are open this early morning. (Oh, the days when Mr. T’s Bowl opened at 6AM and the drinks were correctly priced.) That being said, there are a couple of good places to catch the games with people here.”

Highland Park World Cup Fever « 90042

“One particularly interesting suggestion is to have journals publish lists of rejected papers along with the accepted research. This would act as a sort of public punishment and might encourage scientists to submit their research to appropriate journals on the first try. Another method to decrease the science community’s focus on metrics would be to allow tenure candidates to submit just their top few papers for evaluation. One commentator notes that, unlike in most fields, science output is not directly proportional to effort. Instead of ranking scientists purely on their publication records, credit should be given for all sorts of activities that don’t necessarily come across in traditional metrics. Establishing publicly available datasets, serving on committees, and developing new experimental set-ups should all be taken into account in hiring and tenure decisions. More journals should follow the leads of PLoS ONE and The Journal of Negative Results and begin publishing negative or inconclusive findings.”

link:School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause –

“Locke High represents both the opportunities and challenges of the Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort, financed largely by the economic stimulus bill, to overhaul thousands of the nation’s failing schools.The school has become a mecca for reformers, partly because the Department of Education Web site hails it as an exemplary turnaround effort.But progress is coming at considerable cost: an estimated $15 million over the planned four-year turnaround, largely financed by private foundations. That is more than twice the $6 million in federal turnaround money that the Department of Education has set as a cap for any single school. Skeptics say the Locke experience may be too costly to replicate.”“When people hear we spent $15 million, they say, ‘You’re insane,’ ” said Marco Petruzzi, chief executive of Green Dot Public Schools, the nonprofit charter school group that has remade Locke. “But when you look closely, you see it’s not crazy.”

Quality, not quantity: ending science’s “academic prostitution”

“Then I read it and responded,” said Mrs. Holzer. “Although it had no plot line. That worried me a little. I see now it should have worried me more. Basically ‘Dude’ was everyman. Everyman who loses his innocence and fights to regain it. But ‘Dude’ was also Gerry Ragni’s own life. His memories. Temptations. His fears. His struggle to create. He’s one of 10 children from a poor Italian family in Pittsburgh, you know. When he was 5 years old, he began painting crazy beautiful pictures all over the walls of his family’s house and his parents couldn’t stop him. Even then he believed he was a genius. That belief has made him tireless.

“The Dude” New York Times Review 10-22-72

Bookmarks for August 17th through August 22nd []

Bookmarks from August 17th through August 22nd :[]

  • On Becoming Less Dumb About Wordpress (Subhead: H-E-L-P.) – ihnatko’s posterous – Andy Ihnatko blogs about some of the limitations on running a wordpress blog: “Not really. There are thousands of free, professional themes for Wordpress that’ll take you 75% of the way, but that’s a bit like a ship that will take you 75% of the way to the Sun. You’re still about 25,000,000 miles short so pack a lunch and wear comfortable shoes”
  • Networked Music Review — Join the Chiptune Marching Band [Berlin] -”Chiptune Marching Band (CMB) is a participatory DIY workshop/performance. CMB is a public workshop and actual public performance where participants make a sensor driven sound instruments, self-powered by a kinetic power source, and perform with their instrument with the band. With instruments at the ready, the group heads outside, bringing an event to the streets as the Chiptune Marching Band! The course invites any members of the general public, offering them the opportunity to explore localized resource communities, sound making circuitry, and collective sound performance through their realization.”
  • Create Digital Music » Alternative Music Distribution: Moldover’s CD Case as Circuit Board Noisemaker – “Moldover is the latest artist to experiment with ways of re-imagining the musical object. Already a fan of custom sonic circuitry, he made his CD into a circuit board. Some of it is just aesthetic, like the printed lettering. But there is also integrated noise-making circuitry for a very simple optical Theremin (well, at least, a light sensor-driven oscillator), plus a headphone jack. There’s actually quite a lot of function you can get out of that when plugging into a computer ”
  • Jazz: The Music of Unemployment: Watts Ensemble – “What follows is an email interview with Brian Watson, founder of / composer for the Watts Ensemble. Never heard of them? How’s this? (The tune is called “Funny Cigarettes.”) Based in LA, and supposedly created on a dare, Watts is an impossible, outlandish creature after my own heart, a kindred spirit if ever I met one. The group recently released their first album, Two Suites for Crime & Time. N.B.: I recommend reading the Chris Ziegler interview over at L.A. Record before reading this one.”
  • Critic’s Notebook – Nightly Guests Give an Insight Into Their Quirks and Tics – -”I learned that the world is divided into the hoarders and the sharers, and into the perpetually slighted and the eternally grateful; that the diners who eat the least are the ones who pretend to eat the most; and that no manner of advance instruction can prevent guests from saying your real name and even referencing your last three reviews loudly, repeatedly and in direct earshot of the restaurant manager. There’s a reason most people don’t go into the spying business. They have no aptitude for it.”
  • Pajamas Media » L.A. Police Chief Jumps Ship “So he has earned his admirers, but as anyone who has followed his career will tell you, William Bratton has no greater admirer than William Bratton himself. Which brings us to the curious timing of his departure, coming as it does only two years into his second five-year term as chief. When Bratton came to Los Angeles, a friend in the NYPD described him as the P.T. Barnum of law enforcement, a handle that seems just as apt today as it did then. Like Barnum, Bratton knows how to put on a show, and also like Barnum, he knows to leave the audience wanting more as he exits the stage.”

Bookmarks for July 16th through July 19th []

Bookmarks from July 16th through July 19th:[]

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  • WNYC – New Sounds: Minimalist Music Theatre (July 2009) -”Minimalist Music Theatre Hear some music theatre pieces on this New Sounds show. Listen to Philip Glass‘s recent release “Waiting for the Barbarians,” adapted from the novel by the South African writer and Nobel Prize Winner John Coetzee. Also, there’s music by Paul Bailey – his post-minimalist music theatre piece “Retrace our Steps.” He describes it as a four act vocal/instrumental spectacle based on texts by Gertrude Stein, Guy Debord and Jenny Bitner. The “alt-classical garage band” Paul Bailey Ensemble performs the work”
  • Big Brother Is Listening – The Classical Beat (Anne Midgette) – - -Anne Midgette neatly sums up “But statements like “Art Music is in many ways objectively superior to Pop ‘Music’” (note the quotes) make me grit my teeth and want to play Talking Heads albums really, really loudly. And this, from the FAQ, is just stupid: “The ‘music’ is melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, structurally, texturally, dynamically, thematically and conceptually barren compared to Art Music; it’s also spiritually and politically shabby by comparison. It’s short, trite and highly repetitive.” One is tempted to order a copy of Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” for the site’s editors, just for starters, but one wouldn’t know where to send it. Indeed, there’s something vaguely creepy about musoc’s deliberate anonymity, which is evidently part of its philosophy, though there are limits to how much an audience will care about what a website says if one doesn’t know who’s writing it.”
  • Celebrating Cronkite while ignoring what he did – Glenn Greenwald – – In the hours and hours of preening, ponderous, self-serving media tributes to Walter Cronkite, here is a clip you won’t see, in which Cronkite — when asked what is his biggest regret — says (h/t sysprog): What do I regret? Well, I regret that in our attempt to establish some standards, we didn’t make them stick. We couldn’t find a way to pass them on to another generation. It’s impossible even to imagine the likes of Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw and friends interrupting their pompously baritone, melodramatic, self-glorifying exploitation of Cronkite’s death to spend a second pondering what he meant by that.
  • Philip Glass to perform film, opera works at Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles Times – With “Koyaanisqatsi” — the name means “life out of balance” in Hopi — Glass had more than two years to work on the score. “There was no one waiting for the film — there was no distributor! So we were left alone to make a film — which I realized later was a great luxury.” Today Glass is struck by how pertinent the film seems, at a time when its notions of the world’s interconnectedness and the runaway power of technology have gone mainstream. But the film’s identity has changed since its premiere in 1982.”When we first showed it,” he says, “people thought it was a head trip. People seriously thought you had to get high before you watched it. It wasn’t too long, only four or five years, for people to realize there was actually a movie.”
  • Guest Blog: The Actors Diet: How I’m Recovering – Carrots ‘N’ Cake -Guest Blog: The Actors Diet: How I’m Recovering “…I’ve been struggling with binge eating and anorexia for a while; if you read my bio on our blog page you’ll see a little more about my history with food. I know a lot of women look up to actresses, and there are plenty of them who are in great shape, healthfully (my co-blogger Christy being one of them). As somebody who has been celebrated for her figure (in my feature film debut I played a ballet dancer AND got naked), I am proof that sometimes it is a false ideal, even when you have all the resources available to you, like a personal trainer, meal deliveries, a shrink, hypnosis coach, a best friend who’s a nutritionist…I felt like I had legitimate reasons to obsess about my weight – after all, my career depended on it.”
  • Intolerable Beauty: Chris Jordan Photographs American Mass Consumption – Photographer Chris Jordan describes the photos in his series “Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption” as his “first foray into being an engaged artist.”
  • US State Department employees ask Hillary clinton for Firefox – Video – “Have you been trying to get your corporate IT staff to let you use Firefox or another web browser instead of Internet Explorer? Then you apparently know how a fair number of folks at the US State Deparment feel. At a recent town hall meeting with staff, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a question from one government employee who wanted to know if they could “please” use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. You can see the Q&A by skipping to the 26:32 point in the video above. ” []
  • Los Angeles News – Russian or Armenian Mob Used “Model Employee” Con at PCH Arco --
    An organized-crime ring that police believe is Russian or Armenian targeted a high-volume Redondo Beach Arco gas station, assigned a low-level soldier to infiltrate it and waited eight months while he worked himself into a position where he could implant a tiny, high-tech “skimmer” to steal customers’ credit-card information.
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Bookmarks for July 3rd through July 5th []

Bookmarks for July 3rd through July 5th []

Bookmarks from July 3rd through July 5th:[]

  • Daily Kos: Scientists Visit the Creation Museum – “Tamaki Sato was confused by the dinosaur exhibit. The placards described the various dinosaurs as originating from different geological periods — the stegosaurus from the Upper Jurassic, the heterodontosaurus from the Lower Jurassic, the velociraptor from the Upper Cretaceous — yet in each case, the date of demise was the same: around 2348 B.C. “I was just curious why,” said Dr. Sato, a professor of geology from Tokyo Gakugei University in Japan” Poor Dr. Sato. Has he never read the Bible? Doesn’t he know that 2348 BC was the year of the Great Flood?
  • Wonkette : Insane Sarah Palin, Late At Night On July 4, Threatens To Sue Entire Internet, Via Twitter – he he she said snowbilly grifter. “Sarah Palin, a snowbilly grifter who spent her entire adult life desperately trying to become a Public Figure, apparently wants her attorneys to stupidly and pointlessly threaten American practitioners of free speech regarding our public figures and elected officials.”
  • home: music, society, music society -interesting un-authored site that tries to push an unique “art music” worldview. right now the general consensus is that its a parody (at NNM)
    • 1. define all music in only two categories; pop and art (really no folk music?)
    • 2. has a hall of shame for the “individuals and institutions who debase art music” (why not in good fun?)
    • 3. have a set of criteria for all art music (there definition of art music is ambitious but fatally flawed, they trip themselves up in the complexity argument, also by giving any music/idea a fixed criteria pretty much makes it dead on the spot to be dissected in a vacuum sealed bell jar and not a living breathing ‘art’ form)
    • 4. have a list of ‘approved’ art music (not a bad idea, but looking at their list makes me confident i wouldn’t ever want to be a member of their ‘club’)
    • 5. have a list of neglected classics (see #4)
    • 6. have a mailing list (why not… it would be interesting to see what they think)
  • ‘Freebird’ ultimately unforgettable — -Lynyrd Skynyrd released the song 35 years ago. Since then, it has been an anthem, a demand, an ode to personal independence and the lamest heckle in the history of rock.
  • Feed Us A Live Insect: I will always love you Mr. T’s-Bowl – great post (by eli of the monolators) on the ups and downs on my favorite venue to play in Los Angeles.
  • This Is Why You’re Fat and other great single-topic blogs. – By Farhad Manjoo – Slate Magazine -
    The allure of crowd-sourced, single-topic blogs.
  • The BRAD BLOG : EXCLUSIVE: PALIN RESIGNATION ‘DAMAGE CONTROL’ FOR COMING ‘ICEBERG SCANDAL’ … MORE: EMBEZZLEMENT INDICTMENTS COMING? -since i posted this the FBI has come out to say that there is no truth to the online rumors. after seeing the press conference i still think she was out of her mind scared and quit for a pretty good reason. only time will tell.
  • YouTube – Music plays with the listener -interesting youtube video on music cognition (via @laputean)
  • Poisson Rouge’s sense of musical adventure | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times -Marc Swed checks out the poisson rouge in NYC. “The place isn’t merely cool, as the New York Times has dubbed it, the venue is a downright musical marvel. I wasn’t miserable on Monday, which I might have been with this program. Instead, I found the evening such a pleasure that I hope there is room on the crowded Poisson Rouge bandwagon for yet another critic.”

learning is doing

learning is doing

which means I have spent most of my years trying to avoid teaching music appreciation. on the face of it what could be wrong sharing the joys of listening to music? unfortunately to me teaching people how to “listen to music” is like teaching a math class without doing any math.  no matter how you cut it talking (and lecturing) about music is about as interesting as teaching an sex ed class on abstinence in alaska. most people “appreciate” music very well and the elephant is the room is that they are expected  “appreciate” art music, because it will make them smarter, more cosmopolitan, or something like that. times are tight and being one of the many california state university pt-faculty who have been cutback this fall I gotta take whatever classes that come my way.

my main concern with teaching music appreciation was confirmed after a quick perusal of a few textbooks. most are based on teaching western art music through the reduction of the historical periods in to easily digestible generic “facts” and the predictable passion and personal trivia narratives of art music composers. (i think i know why composer biopics usually suck so much, the writers are using their music appreciation books as primary source material) its not that every music appreciation book totally sucks, just that i can see that most of my time is going to be spent cherry picking reading material from a variety of sources that doesn’t reduce the lecture to simplistic cliches. my gut feeling is that the more time we are reading and listening to primary sources, the better.

i wasn’t quite sure what to expect teaching an 8 am saturday morning class on a off-campus site (a local charter school campus).  since most schools are locked down pretty tight on the weekends i figured that on the first day there would be a crowd of us waiting outside the main gate for a janitor to show up the school. I was surprised that when i pulled up at 7:30 am there was somebody waiting at the gate for me. not only was the school open and students ready to go, but I noticed they were much younger than i expected.

i realized that this was not the class that was advertised to me. after talking to the assistant principal he explained that this was an their pilot program on the saturday school concept. unlike most public schools that have many federal resources to teach kids that are below grade level on the weekends the LA Alliance charter school are partnering up with the local community college to fill this void. to me this brings up a whole bunch of obvious questions. i’m already questioning the logic in having community college teachers work with kids that are quite a bit behind on their path to graduation. (remember all need to teach community college is a masters degree, and most college professors have no training in secondary school pedagogy) this all being said, i’m happy to teach the kids in front of me not the ones you expected.

after the first hour it was obvious that their reading and writing skill are not quite ready for prime time, so by now my goals for the class are changing pretty quickly, more singing, clapping, and experiencing music as possible. gotta break up the class into 15 min segments. i’m also not going to worry about the traditional drop the needle testing of composers and titles. i’d rather have the class be able to just identify music by its elements (melody, harmony, form, rhythm and timbre). just by the short time working with them this is a pretty big goal, but i think a worthy of the class-time. i also know that this class can help improve their reading and writing skills. most students have a problem with technical reading (textbooks) and spending some time in the book, probably could help prepare them on how to use their college textbooks as a resourese and not a doorstop.

three hours on a saturday morning with a class of HS kids was not what i expected, but i really was impressed with the charter school and the students. they obviously have to be there to graduate (and probably continue as students in the school). but we sang, clapped and made a pretty good use of the time.  i’m still not sure what i’m going to do about the textbooks/CD’s ($100+) and concert attendance.  asking working class families to spend that much on a book that isn’t much of a resource to begin with is a problem, and i’m not sure how i feel about requiring HS kids to attend concerts when public transportation is their only way to get around. in a normal HS setting we would take a field trip to a show and bring groups on campus. i’ll check into seeing if this is possible.

what are my goals? is this class worth teaching? i hope so.

my gut tells me to break it up into theory and practice. if i’m going to have a class for 16 weeks and all we do is talk about music, i hope somebody shoots me.

i want kids to be able match pitch, sing simple songs, duets and rounds, learn to find and keep a steady pulse.  i’m going to teach them notation through solfege (i already started and they don’t know it yet) and hopefully tie in all the book learning by relating it through their limited in-class performance skills. i know introducing improvisation and composition should be in there somewhere, but without any keyboards, laptops or instruments, i’m not sure about it?  we could make instruments, but because these aren’t my facilities or my classroom makes the whole endeavor more complicated. its going to be a journey, and an interesting change of pace from what i am comfortable with which is probably what i need at this stage of the game.

RealNewMusic 2008

RealNewMusic 2008 Saturday, June 21, 2008, 7:00 pm Tickets $10.00 / $7.50 / $5.00 (students & seniors) The Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts Whittier College, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier Box Office: 562.907.4203 Google map to the Shannon Center featuring: PBE is an alt-classical garage band that plays the music of a variety […]

the sausage factory

as you can see on the right side of my blog i have decided to start twittering my new project. so far i’m about 2 weeks into getting my chops back after spending the last 8 months editing, recording, and promotion of my retrace our steps EP and life’s too short CD. the whole process […]

access to the audience

access to the audience

kyle gann’s recent post that quoted cornelius cardew got me thinking about this whole alt-classical thing.

“access to [the] audience (the artist’s real means of production) is controlled by the state.”

for the past 5 years playing and composing outside the mainstream has had a lot of advantages:

1. i write what i want and for who i want
2. the time from composition to rehearsal is usually a matter of days
3. i get everything played that i write (the good and the bad)
4. i perform with who i want and where i want

cardew’s statement implies that gaining access to the concert halls (the means of production which is controlled by the state) is the primary path to gaining access to the audience. while i prefer to play in non-traditional venues it has some limitations:

1. concert halls are definitely not a priority, but it is any art music composers main access to press and reviews. its kinda ironic that we don’t really matter until we play a concert hall though our best shows and crowds are occur in the alt-venues.
2. playing in clubs works the best, but in los angeles the problem isn’t about finding a place to play, but to find other groups who share a similar aesthetic sensibility to put on a decent show. booking a show can easily devolve into a vaudeville act.
3. galleries can be great place to play, but if they don’t already host musical events getting an audience to come out to a new venue takes time.
4. of course there is no money playing these alt-venues, and the freedom that i have to write our own shows and work out my material on a consistent basis (like any rock band or standup comedian)
5. if i wanted to have a paying “career” as a composer then my options of “making a living” are all clearly controlled by the state. if i took this path i would have to embrace the “work for hire” attitude and become a plumbers of art music taking whatever commissions and projects that came my way.

there are some pretty obvious limitations to the whole alt-classical thing. this is not a path you choose to pay the bills. i was lucky to learn early when i was playing at disney that making money doing your art can be highly problematic and have embraced the model as composer as musician and educator (much like bach and vivaldi).

these days we might have the we have the power to self publish, record and perform our own music.

Life (We Cannot Retrace Our Steps)

Life (We Cannot Retrace Our Steps)

my long life, my long life

RETRACE OUR STEPS is essentially a secular oratorio; a collection of thoughts, feelings, and opinions about modern life (consumerism, idealism, and alienation)
Traditionally oratorios functioned as a musical sermon, coordinated to biblical calendar to enhance the worship service. by setting these conflicting themes in a non-narrative format allows the contradictions and grey areas to become illuminated.

Instead of creating an “official” set of PROGRAM NOTES to accompany this recording (like the ones you are reading right now) I decided that a GRAPHIC LIBRETTO would far better bridge the gap between the trepidation many people feel today when listening to ART MUSIC (music meant for contemplation)

listen and download RETRACE OUR STEPS I-IV:

act 1
retrace our steps, act I

act 2
retrace our steps, act II

act 3
retrace our steps, act III

act 4
retrace our steps, act IV

download graphic libretto

download graphic libretto and retrace our steps mp3′s (66mb zip file)

mother tongue

just to start this off on the right foot let me point out that i really like going to la master chorale concerts. i’m really glad they tackle so much new music and i thought the concert was very well performed. i’m not sure why i’m so snippy about this gig, but here are my […]

"now " and "then"

last night was a great example of what i find frustrating in undergraduate comp forums. i know that composition is one of the “black arts” of teaching, so i am really not here to throw stones at students our students. all of the pieces were very well prepared and performed (except for one piece that […]

looking for you

shane cadman (illustrious theatre orchestra/new music impresario) is looking for an southern california based “art music” composer/performer (solo or ensemble) to perform for approximately 30 minutes on his realnewmusicfestival in whittier on june 23rd. More info can be found at, or can also contact him for more info. when i was helping shane look […]

will the last one out please turn off the lights?

i have been enjoying the very interesting and civil musings on “non-death of classical music” at daniel wolf’s renewable music blog. i wish i had more time to post about this but here is my 2 cents. is it possible that the definition of “classical music” is more of a description of an musical social […]

the cartesian reunion "school" (a short history of a long tradition 1979-present)

Although I have decided to at least temporarily continue to make my music available, I am entirely finished with the music establishment. No mainstream American music institution will be permitted to perform my work (Not that there’s much chance of it anyway). Why? Because it’s a rigged game and because it’s run by the elite; […]

belated meme

thanks devin for the nudge…. Total Volume of Music on your computer?studio pc-1198 songs, 7.5gbstudio mac, 2791, 18.6gb Last CD you bought?gimmie fiction, spoon Songs/Albums/Podcasts currently playing? i usually alternate between listening to pop music, art music, and my audible subscriptions of this american life. now that a cheaper version is available (podcasting) i have […]

music by micahel welsh and scooter pietsch

its kinda like i found out i have older cousins i have never met.

i was catching up on email and found out two of the more successful reality tv and film composers are putting on a concert at colburn school/zipper hall today. vic called yestereday afternoon and said he was playing and i should check it out. it turns out that michael and scooter studied with lloyd rodgers at csuf about 10 years earlier.

its probably too late for most of you to attend but here is the info:

you can find out more on scooter pietsch’s music at his website and blog

Sunday, May 29, 2005 – 2:00PM – Zipper Concert Hall

MICHAEL SWEENEY bassoon, DAVID JOHNSON vibraphone and percussion
BRENT McMUNN conductor

Noted Los Angeles television and film composers SCOOTER PIETSCH and
MICHAEL WELSH have teamed up for a concert of their art music. They
are dedicated to getting new music played and heard in Los Angeles.
Michael and Scooter have been friends since their college days at
California State University, Fullerton, where they both studied with
composer LLOYD RODGERS. The following week, the artists go into the
studio to record the pieces for CD release.

Aficionados will immediately recognize the artists as this area’s top
players from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra, the USC Thornton School of Music, CalArts, and the motion
picture and television studios. MICHAEL SWEENEY is principal
bassoonist of the Toronto Symphony.

Tickets: $20 at the box office. Reception following.

Peering Into Classical Music’s Future

Drew McManus talks about a possible future of classical music and the orchestra. he seems to be the only critic who has connected the dots of audience size, attendance and expenses. he also points out that besides these big problems, the orchestra has stopped having any cultural signifigance. “But there are a few facts which […]

paul bailey ensemble-eagle rock music festival, sunday october 3rd

Just got done sending out the emails for the Eagle Rock Music Festival next weekend. The festival is always a really good hang, Saturday is the rock acts and Sunday is a mixture of new music, world music and student performers. I am really happy to be performing, this is a great venue to enjoy […]

canary in the coal mine?

i usually don’t like to post twice a day, but anne midgette from the ny times posted her review of the critical conversation blog/event at i almost got up and cheered when i read this enlightened quote. ‘The discussion offered fantastic food for thought, and everyone seemed to enjoy taking part. For one thing, […]

uncomfortable party conversations

rehearsal tonight, and a party today for the avenue 50 studio where i rehearse. they are celebrating their new nonprofit status, which is a big step for them. congratulations kathy! ave 50 is a great gallery that deals with outsider and underground art. so whenever i am at a party and kathy introduces me around […]

putting modernism behind/ kyle gann

Yesterday was a good day. Since creating my blog I have been looking for some other people that have similar experiences. In los angeles it seems that the art music world is so far away. We do have a new music scene here, but it is easy to feel that art music is irrelevant. I […]

minimalist/postmodern listening list

Technorati Profile What to listen to? That is the question! I’m going to try and keep the descriptions brief and let you decide for yourself. Hopefully there will be something new for you to check out. Of course the following are just my opinions, so if you think something is missing, please let me know. […]