Downloadable Tom

Thanks to his column on New Music Box, I've been alerted by my friend and fellow blogger Greg Sandow that Tom Johnson's 1992 book of Village Voice reviews, The Voice of New Music, is being offered as a free download on the internet. This is a dream come true. I already had the book in print, of course, but I have frequently needed to look through it for references to certain composers, or even phrases I remember Tom saying. Now, with it on my computer (I chose it as a Word file rather than a PDF), I can search even a word or two I remember. … [Read more...]

Censorship by Word Count

As my post before last reported, a fellow critic brought me up short for tossing off the brainless comment that Boulez's and Carter's music is no good because it's unmemorable. That I could utter such a thing shows what many years as a newspaper critic can do to a writer. As atonement, it took me 1642 words to accurately convey the nuances of my long-evolved opinions of Boulez and Carter. Now, if I wanted to publish 1642 words in print today, where would I go? Nowhere I can think of. When I started at the Village Voice in 1986, my column was … [Read more...]

Reich Re-Remixed

Has anyone else heard the bit of tag music on National Public Radio that uses the 12-note "tune" from Steve Reich's Piano Phase? This morning I was listening to the news, and between items a little snippet of synthesized music came on for six or eight seconds, just long enough for me to grasp why it seemed oddly familiar: no phase-shifting, just the note pattern repeated over and over. Is Reich getting royalties for that? Does he know? Or did some wise guy in the sound studio perform a sly bit of larceny? It's always good to hear a … [Read more...]

Loving, Hating Carter, Boulez

Astute reader and fellow critic Marc Geelhoed took exception to my dismissive remarks about Pierre Boulez and Elliott Carter, and did so intelligently. My attitude, he says, comes across as a simplistic rejection of their respective styles. You wrote that their music is "difficult to remember," but this "It's not easy to hum" is lousy grounds for critical acceptance, like saying that the Aladdin soundtrack is superior to Brahms, just 'cuz you can remember all the melodies... You criticize composers for not meeting criteria they don't pretend … [Read more...]