Occupational Hazard

Those of you who do not hold academic positions and wish you did may take some comfort from the following medical statistic. Last December my blood pressure was 145/100; after seven months of absence from the camaraderie of my esteemed colleagues, it is now 107/76. … [Read more...]

Dreaming Reality

Richard Fleming is a philosophy professor at Bucknell University, where I used to teach, and thus an old friend. Beneath his cynical sense of humor, he's a wonderfully clear, wonderfully articulate thinker, capable of tracing lines of logic in such a translucent way that even the nonprofessional memory can easily recall them afterward. The philosophy of music is his special passion, and, with composer William Duckworth, Fleming was editor of the books John Cage at Seventy-Five and Sound and Light: La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, as well as … [Read more...]

Color Me Frivolous

Riffing off of politics again for a moment, I truly hope it is redundant for me to point out that everyone who is worried about the nature of political discourse in this country should be reading His column today is especially gratifying, as it takes up the use of the epithet "serious," the term that habitual Bush-supporters use these days to distinguish themselves from Democrats and liberal commentators. Dick Cheney and Joe Klein at Time, in this usage, are Very Very Serious because, while they'll take issue with the President here and there, … [Read more...]

All that Litters Is not Spam

This will be the most trivial thing I've ever blogged about - reminds me of those "pet peeves" ranted about by Andy Rooney - but perhaps it will serve as a public service announcement. I'm a technological dunce, but there's one thing I can do better than a large swath of the population: navigate spam filters. I love my spam filter. I activated it a few years ago, and it saves me a good five minutes a day of tedious work. But a lot of people mistakenly think its purpose is to prevent me from hearing from strangers. If you've never e-mailed me … [Read more...]

The Right’s Long-Term Fight

In case you're having trouble keeping your spirits sufficiently depressed on such a beautiful day, here's a accompanying article, that link Prescott Bush, grandfather of the current White House resident, with the … [Read more...]

Appeal to the Masses

A student asks for recommendations for a violin piece (with or without piano) written in the last 15 years. Paul Dresher's Double Ikat is a little too long in the tooth by this point, and I'm having trouble coming up with compelling, more recent examples. So I bring it to you. Personally, I'd be much more interested in something arguably postclassical than in the usual high-modernist glop, but I suppose anything post-1992 would fulfill the assignment. UPDATE: Please, feel free to recommend your own works. I'm gonna keep talking about my music, … [Read more...]

Can Snidely Whiplash Be Stopped in Time?

[See update below] I've been neglecting PostClassic Radio, because it's been difficult, with all the other work I need to be doing, to justify investing time in an enterprise that might be shut down soon. Here's the message I received from Live 365 this week: In answer to the top question on broadcasters' minds: we have no plans to shut down on July 15th when the billions in per channel minimums and significantly higher rates come due, unless forced to by SoundExchange. We believe Congress and the public share our outrage over the fundamental … [Read more...]

The Devil Is in the Metronome Marking

I wonder if other there are other composers who have the same relation to tempo that I do. I sometimes struggle with the beginning of a piece until I get the tempo right. In recent months I've written sketches for a piece commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players for next January. I wrote a passage at quarter-note = 88. Didn't feel right. Wrote further passages at that tempo. All fell limp the next time I looked at them. Tried a new passage at 112. Even worse. Finally, today, I got an idea at quarter-note = 84 and suddenly wrote 100 seconds … [Read more...]

Odds and Ends

1. A few years ago, Gloria Coates completed her 13th symphony, and in so doing became the most prolific female symphonist in history, one up on the obscure African-American Julia Perry (1924-79) of Kentucky. Yesterday, Gloria told me she has completed her Symphony No. 15, which ties her with Shostakovich. It will be available on Naxos in a few months. Gloria characteristically does a lot with long, slow string glissandos, often overlaid with tonal passages for a bizarre but gripping effect. I particularly recommend her Symphony No. 4, … [Read more...]

Ceci n’est pas un blog entry

Forgive me for not blogging. I have little to say to the world at the moment, and, aside from the heinous political stuff in which you are as expert as I, the world doesn't offer much to attract my attention. I am involved in the little ditzy administrative tasks of getting my music in order, and since I gather that 96 percent of you reading this are composers, you are, or have been, or will soon be, involved in the same species of tasks, and so there is little point in describing them. I acquired a PDF merger (a free one - PDFmergeX), and so … [Read more...]

Font of Every Blessing

Awhile back my Australian composer friend Andrian Pertout - I should say, one of my multitudinous Australian composer friends - e-mailed me a font for Ben Johnston's microtonal pitch notation. I'm not very good at this kind of technological challenge, and we had been down this road before, so I filed it away to deal with later. But being in between compositions this week and without any particular idea in my head, I tried it out and got it to work! What this means is that now, for the first time, I can notate my microtonal music on the computer … [Read more...]