Postclassic: Music of the Evolved

After a short hiatus, I’ ve finally gotten back to working on Postclassic Radio, and there are new pieces up by Linda Catlin Smith, Nicolas Collins, Molly Thompson, Paul Bailey, Joseph Koykkar, Dave Smith, Paul Dresher, and others. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times last Sunday, Nov. 7, about my station and Robin Cox’s Iridian Radio, due to our both winning the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. I couldn’t access the article without subscribing, but author Chris Pasles kindly sent me a PDF of it, and Cox e-mailed me the text. It quotes us as … [Read more...]

What Abe Lincoln Meant to Say

If you find profanity offensive, you will not enjoy the message to our Southern brethren at, but I find it heartwarming, which I suppose completes my transformation into a Northeastern liberal. … [Read more...]

Time to Start with the Elegies

Young composer Keith Corbin has written a rather nice Elegy for America, inspired by what he correctly calls the horrible catastrophe of November 2, 2004: "59,459,765 Americans said that they favor a policy of Violence over Peace, Intolerance over Justice, Large Corporations over Economic Sanity, and Fear over Freedom and Liberty." You can hear an mp3 of the MIDI version of Corbin's piece, based on a funereal variation of our national anthem. One thinks of Charles Ives's song "An Election: Nov. 2, 1920," lamenting the country's similarly … [Read more...]

Movies We’ve Seen Before

On November 3, the day after the election, 250 Bard College students staged a peaceful protest in the neighboring village of Red Hook. They sat down in the street in the town's sole intersection, delayed traffic, attracted curious onlookers and a few insults, and left. That was it. Somehow the event came to the attention of the Kingston police force in neighboring Ulster county, across the river. Thirty Kingston police came to escort the students away. Twelve students were walking back to campus together, when one stepped over the white line on … [Read more...]

No Blue Bluer than a Red-State Blue

Composer Lawrence Dillon, grad and former faculty of Juilliard but now living and teaching in North Carolina, cries out for the 25 million red-staters who voted for Kerry and sanity: Don't you think we've been depressed enough this week without taking all the blame for Bush's resounding victory? And how do you feel about the 2.8 million New Yorkers who voted for Bush -- more than in North Carolina and Arizona combined? What exactly is their excuse for being so stupid? On the night of November 3rd [with my North Carolina colleagues] all … [Read more...]

Hail Our New Slack-Jawed Overlords

This concession speech by Adam Felber seems to me to strike exactly the kind of conciliatory tone we should take toward our mighty red-state conquerors. You should read the whole thing, but I'll provide my favorite excerpt here: There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / … [Read more...]

Poetry to Soothe the Soul

I’m writing about politics now not because I believe I know more about it than anyone else, but because after November 2 - an even darker day for America than September 11* (better 3000 Americans killed than 59,000,000 voting their approval to genocide and sexual torture) - I couldn’t find anything on the internet to make me feel better. For many hours there was just nothing, then the articles started rolling in, predictably, by Democrats blaming themselves. The Repugs eat this up, that every time they cream us we act like it’s our own fault. I … [Read more...]

Democrats, Give Thyselves a Break

One thing I’m not going to do is take part in the Democrat circular firing squad, wringing my hands about what wasn’t done, or where we went wrong, why our message didn’t get across. Why not? Because I’m from Texas. Unlike most of my New York friends, I don't have to give red-staters the benefit of the doubt. I was raised devoutly in the Southern Baptist Church - in fact, First Baptist of Dallas, the south’s largest Baptist church, and the one Billy Graham belonged to. I know these people who voted for Bush. Some of them are bullies. Some are … [Read more...]

No Time to Retreat

I’m hearing whispers in blog forum conversations that the exit poll percentages match the final vote percentages in areas where voting took place with a paper trail, and do not match in areas where voting was done on paperless electronic machines. I can’t yet find any hard numbers or analysis, but it’s early, and people were up late last night. I certainly hope it’s true, because I am reluctant to think that 58,000,000 hateful bigots whom I am obliged to call my countrymen decided to proclaim to the world that the torture at Abu Ghraib was … [Read more...]

All Politics Is Local

Allow me to scoop all other publications with the results in my home precinct, the Barrytown section of Red Hook, New York: Kerry/Edwards 522 Bush/Cheney 82 Nader/Camejo 20 Four years ago it was something like: Gore 243 Bush 80 Nader 160 Indicates something about how far Nader has descended in the collegiate milieu. … [Read more...]

Be Glad Then, America

For my last theory class prior to election day, I took the subtle precaution of teaching a hymn whose words (and also harmonies, as I needed a minor-key piece with a homophonic texture, and they’re rare) were appropriate to this particular election week, Be Glad Then, America, by our founding national composer William Billings (1746-1800): Darkness and clouds of awful shade Hang pendant by a slender thread, Waiting commission from God the upholder to fall, Fall, fall, and distress us. Great God, avert th’impending doom, We plead no merit of our … [Read more...]

Criticism, Musical Expression, and Values

The votes are in: in my criticism class, I mean. I have two kinds of student writers. One kind is very good at style and atmosphere. They can talk about music in relation to their lives, tell how certain songs make them feel, relate their likes and dislikes. The other type knows musical terminology, and can describe music in intelligent detail. The first type of writer is entertaining to read, but ultimately merely subjective; the second is more persuasive, but a little dry and lacking in color and emotive effect. Almost none can yet combine … [Read more...]


The November Composer-of-the-Month at Postclassic Radio is, logically enough, William Duckworth, whose elegant musical logic has been a tremendous influence on my own music. I've uploaded two major Duckworth works, The Time Curve Preludes (1978-79) for piano, played on Lovely Music by neely Bruce, and Southern Harmony (1980-81), a choral piece sung by the Gregg Smith Singers and the Rooke Chapel Choir of Bucknell University. The latter work is in 20 movements divided into four books, and I've separated the four books out among other works in … [Read more...]