Saturday, October 02, 2010

Composerly Bloggery

"Some people do things before they are fashionable. Ned Rorem blogged before it was electronic." - David Feldman
Given the fact that we're supposed to be witty, wise, and creative people, it's striking how prosaic writing by composers -- and blogging composers in particular -- usually is. The weblog format is a young medium, but it seems to have already settled comfortably into some fairly rigid formal and stylistic boundaries. Too comfortably, methinks.* If I ran the circus, the model would definitely be Cage's Diary: How to improve the world (you'll only make matters worse) rather than The Paris/New York/Later/Final (...) Diaries of Ned Rorem, and invest both content and form with a little more composerly invention and a lot less confession and self-promotion.**

I've tried some modest experiments with form here, and a few readers have even caught on to the fun and games (picnic, lightning), but words have a way of failing me, and my items are a pale fire when you begin to imagine the potential bonfire of words music might ought inspire.

At the moment, perhaps the best we can expect from blogs, is precisely the same we expect from critics: a well-worded and unexpected observation, a provocation from a set of ears and eyes independent from your own. How about this one, from Virgil Thomson who, describing a production of the Ring said: "And there stood Valhalla, looking all the world like the Cornell Medical Center."

A gift certificate for a 5 lb. canned ham will be awarded to the first reader to reconstruct the algorithm and data base from which this item was composed.
*Remember: the function of music is to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable.

**There is a notion that the orginal, poetic, form of language descended into prose when it became necessary to communicate more concretely in order to survive. If that's true, then it speaks to a sorry state of affairs for new music. However, all the evidence is to the contrary: new music is not only surviving, but being made in a quantity and diversity previously unknown. Sure, there are naysayers still fighting sorry little turfwars (see this interview for an example from someone directly threatened by that quantity and diversity), and sure, it's often tough going, but when has it ever been any better?

(An encore posting from July 2, 2007)

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