Category Archives: Found on the Web

Why bother composing?

Jeffrey Parola sounds kinda bummed in his latest blog post. He outlines the all too familiar plight of the contemporary concert music composer (no appreciation, money, and little hope of either). He then earnestly asks: Why do we bother?

In my mind the answer is simple. Creation of music that didn’t exist before HAS to be its own reward, devoid of compensation, recognition, or praise. If that drive for creation for its own sake doesn’t exist, I might humbly suggest that a composer should just stop.

Praise is nice, and earning a living doing something that you love is great, but just because you love something doesn’t mean you can make a living at it. And just because you wrote something doesn’t mean anyone should care. Money and acknowledgement have to be secondary concerns for a composer.

Of course we should try to capitalize on our work. Self-promote, market, try to get people to listen, care, and support . But that’s not WHY you should write. You write because no one else will create the things that you will create. And ideally you will love what you’ve written so much that promotion will be easy and enthusiasm will be contagious. But even if it’s not, you should like what you’ve created so much that even if no one else seems to care, it was worth the effort.

Perhaps that sounds kinda glib and self evident. But there’s a real nugget in there. A composer should think about the music they love and why they love it. They should think about how they feel when they listen to it. Then they should listen to their own music, and if they don’t feel similarly, maybe they’re doing something wrong. After all, if you don’t love listening to your own work passionately, why should anyone else?

And if you DO love listening to your own work, what else do you really need? Perhaps money and adulation will follow, perhaps it won’t. But you’ve made music that you love and that you love to hear. Strive for those things that we associate with success, but don’t let those goals ever be mistaken for the real reason you write music.

(By the way, you should listen Jeffrey’s work. It’s some really lovely stuff. All of it. And then maybe go write some of your own.)

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I Hate This So You Can Tell Who I Am

Today’s blog entry in Deceptive Cadence echos a theme of my Voice Box radio show with Chloe Veltman and the corresponding conversation on Lisa Hirsch’s blog. Specifically, musical taste, both what you love and despise, is often more about self identification, ego, and image than it is about the music at hand. Some of theContinue Reading

So THOSE are the cellists in my neighborhood…

Look at that! Original Kronos Quartet cellist (and #Violagate White Knight) Joan Jeanrenaud is performing a concert to benefit my neighborhood library. Specifically, it’s a fundraiser to replace the somewhat dated mural on the library with a more modern piece of wall art. Of course, this being San Francisco, replacing that mural is no simpleContinue Reading

Opera On Tap comes to SF

After four years of filling the taverns and pubs of NYC with the sounds of Wagner and Verdi, Opera On Tap seems to be opening a San Francisco chapter. An audition has been announced on Facebook (hosted by local soprano/neuroscientist/miracle-debunker Indre Viskontas) and the Opera On Tap website has an as-of-yet unpopulated page for aContinue Reading

The Acoustic Vocoder vs The Wooden Mirror

What a fantastic idea this is. They need to have the input audio be a solo piano piece to see what happens. First some Mozart, then some Debussy. Now THAT would be cool. I’m curious how much the transformation considers the audio spectrum of the output device. What if this was instead driving a sampler?Continue Reading

Classical Music, Cheerios, and Soap Operas

Felicia Day just posted this amazingly egregious bit of product placement, which, apparently, is pretty commonplace these days. This could easily be applied to classical music with just a bit of media synergy. Imagine a couple finishing a candle lit dinner, staring into each other’s eyes: “Thanks for the dinner. The chicken was delicious.” “It’sContinue Reading

On the Not-So-Glamorous Life

My fellow singing waiter Mark Hernandez notified me (and all his other Facebook friends) of this cutting “dark bio” from regional opera performer Robert Orth: Robert Orth’s “Dark Biograpy” While it’s tongue in cheek (and damn funny) it offers an honest glance into the not-so-glamorous life of most working musicians that’s much more common than theContinue Reading

Hilary Hahn – Good date? Or GREAT date?

Although this will certainly perpetuate the myth that I am obsessed with Hilary Hahn (not an ounce of truth to it), this is just too funny not to post. It was discovered by Hilary’s own publicist who wrote all about it in her Life’s a Pitch blog. Now, if I were Hilary’s publicist, I’d definitelyContinue Reading

1-Bit Symphony

This is brilliant work. I just preordered mine. Tristan Perich: 1-Bit Symphony (Part 1: Overview) from Tristan Perich on Vimeo.

Inception: plot point or arcana?

This is kinda neat. One of the main musical gestures in the score of Inception is derived from an actual plot point in the film. Neat! Cool! I love it! But is it hearable? I mean, now that it’s been pointed out and delivered via the viral web you can hear it, and SOMEONE mustContinue Reading