Two More Voices in the Din

The tendency of composers to have too much time on their hands and not know what to do with themselves is an ongoing crisis. Two more have recently decided to deal with it in the traditional manner: blogging. American composer [oops! – Canadian, sorry] Matthew Whittall writes The Short Road to Nirvana from his post in Helsinki, and opened with an interesting anecdote about Debussy’s The Engulfed Cathedral. Miguel Frasconi’s Well-Weathered Music starts off, appropriately enough, with reminiscences of new music in the late 1970s that bring back all-too-familiar memories. They lean toward the minimalist/new-music side of things (though Whittall expresses fondness for Kaija Saariaho’s music, a taste shared by several of my friends that I haven’t been able to fathom), so maybe it won’t feel so lonely out here in Blogland.


  1. says

    I’ve only heard one Saariaho piece — “Adriana Songs” — so maybe I’d hate the rest, but the piece I heard I liked quite a lot. I only heard the piece once, so I’m going on recollections of my observations at the time rather than actual current observations, but one of the things I found particularly interesting about her style is that she uses a lot of sort-of sound-mass techniques. So her counterpoint, rather than being line against line, is sound-mass against sound-mass. In my conversation with her about the piece I’m pretty sure she confirmed that that’s how she thinks about her process. I remember feeling like the piece was a sort of cross between Ligeti and Michael Gordon’s ‘Decasia’, although I can’t recall my precise justification for the Decasia comparison anymore.
    None of this actually explains why I liked the piece or why you don’t like her work, though. Interesting technical features are not the same as interesting aesthetic features. Oh well :)

  2. says

    HI Kyle,
    Thanks for the plug!
    Although I do tend to think of myself as an “experimantalist/new music” guy, what with improvisaton being an important aspect of my work. (I’m sure I’ll be bloggin about that quite a bit.) My blog site is also my main website, so I’ll be filling it with all sort of interesting things in the weeks to come.
    Have a great trip!