Hearing from Other Minds


The Djerassi Foundation: Somewhere out there, beyond Neil Young's cattle ranch, lies the Pacific Ocean: Here  are composer David A. Jaffe, a Djerassi board member whose name I've forgotten, Other Minds co-founder Jim Newman, composers Agata Zubel, Louis Andriessen, I Wayan Balawan, and the legs and hands of photographer John Fago, listening to Janice Giteck's music: Here's Agata, Janice, David, regular PostClassic reader and Other Minds radio producer Richard Friedman (hi Richard!) and me at the far end of a long, hilly, muddy … [Read more...]

With the Living and the Dead

This coming Sunday, Feb. 27, my friend Marka Gustavsson and her accompanist Frank Corliss will premiere a new work of mine for viola and piano, Scene from a Marriage, at a 3:00 concert at Olin Auditorium at Bard. Other composers on the concert are all dead: Bach, Enesco, and Stravinsky (Duo concertante, a lovely and uncharacteristically lyrical work). Only I survived! Mwa-ha-ha-ha! (Sorry.) Scene from a Marriage is a rather light, lyrical work itself, and a touch humorous. I'm sad to say I won't be there. For Saturday I'm flying to San … [Read more...]

Empty Professionalism


Last night my philosopher colleague Daniel Berthold gave a reading from his new book The Ethics of Authorship: Communication, Seduction, and Death in Hegel and Kierkegaard. I haven't read the book, but will have to now. He's a very impassioned speaker, and talked eloquently about the implications of writing in one style or another, and how no style is ever ethically neutral. In passing he referred to eleven tricks he'd discovered that help philosophers get their papers published in journals, and how every trick will make your writing worse. So … [Read more...]



I do think of totalism (a style of complex tempo relationships, usually with limited harmonies and some vernacular influence) - or metametrics, as we used to call it in the verdant groves of Postclassica [he mused, stroking his chin] - as a style that crystallized in the 1990s and then waned. OK, we finally said, you can get your ensemble to play rhythms of eight against nine. What else can you do? But my colleague John Halle is one of the great unsung totalists, and occasionally I realize he's still riding higher than ever on the tempo … [Read more...]

Fucking (Excuse Me) the Tempo


We went to see The King's Speech yesterday. Very enjoyable film, superb script, good performances, a classic feel-good movie yet a little unusual in its pacing and subject matter. But I'm not a film critic. Two things struck me. One was that it shared a lot of subject matter with Robert Ashley's operas. Ashley overcame a temporary speech deficiency in high school, and his doctoral research (since Ross Lee Finney prevented him from becoming a composition major) was on stuttering. The tendency of swear words to slow down speech and allow the mind … [Read more...]

Slapping Music

I wish I had enough time on my hands to come up with videos of hollywood celebrities performing minimalist music. That's not what I'd do with the time, but I wish I had the time. (h/t Bill Duckworth) … [Read more...]

A Sonata with Long Tentacles

1948 photo by Clara Sipprell

My students might have expected that an entire course about one piece of music would have a short listening list. But I'm asking them to listen to the following: Concord Sonata (seven recordings) Four Transcriptions from "Emerson" Emerson Concerto The Celestial Railroad Fourth Symphony, second movement Songs: "Thoreau," "He Is There!," "They Are There!" Brant/Ives: A Concord Symphony Piano Sonata No. 1 19 tracks of Ives playing or improvising on Concord Sonata material     Except for the First Sonata, thrown in … [Read more...]