A non-composing new-music enthusiast writes in with an urgent question:
It is often nearly impossible for an ordinary person to obtain contemporary scores. I’ve written to composers that you mention without success (or often, without even a response). Why do we need to be Kyle Gann or eighth blackbird to get contemporary scores, even (or especially) when recordings are available?
Amen, amen. How can we keep up a civilized discourse about new music today, even when we can get the recordings, when we can’t find the scores on which the recordings are based, and of which they are, after all, only one possible interpretation? I constantly bug composers for scores, and, ironically, it’s the ones whose music is published that are the hardest to come by – I can only get perusal scores for a short time, and they take forever to arrive, and so on. I will point out that a very good collection of recent scores, including mine, is available for low prices at Frog Peak, a wonderful company that supports artists and is not trying to enrich itself. But we need some kind of central score warehouse that people can put their work into. The now-defunct and much-lamented IMSLP looked like it might partly serve that function. I scan a lot of the scores I get into PDFs so I can take them on lecture tours and work on them away from home, but I can’t go handing those out without some arrangement with the composers. Fifty of my own scores are downloadable on my web site, and very good San Francisco composer Erling Wold does the same. Send me notice of others who do this, and we’ll make a list. It’s great that making recordings and mp3s at home has become so easy, but the decline of score culture, in sharp contrast to my youth, has been a bee in my bonnet for a couple decades now. Suggestions welcome.
And further to the point, I’ve now put up a score to my vibraphone solo Olana (PDF download). Several people had asked about it, and I am given to understand that the mallet world is desperate for new repertoire. I often feel I can’t get my music played as mellowly as I want it, so I have even introduced into the score the word mellissimo – for those who would feel so much better if I would only use Italian terms.