I Suppose It Finally Gets to the Composers

I love this insight from Slate's interview today with Noam Chomsky: Q: In your new book, you suggest that many components of human nature are just too complicated to be really researchable. A: That's a pretty normal phenomenon. Take, say, physics, which restricts itself to extremely simple questions. If a molecule becomes too complex, they hand it over to the chemists. If it becomes too complex for them, they hand it to biologists. And if the system is too complex for them, they hand it to psychologists ... and so on until it ends up in … [Read more...]

One of the Truly Outstanding Inconveniences

Awhile back I noted composer Henry F. Gilbert's response to receiving, from the unknown Charles Ives, a copy of the Concord Sonata and accompanying essays: a friend of Gilbert's, admiring the essays, had remarked, “Depend upon it, this fellow is a bad composer – good composers are usually non compos mentis on every other subject.” Only yesterday, though, in Jan Swafford's superb Ives biography, did I notice Ives's justifiably arrogant yet heartbreaking answer to him: Your friend, the critic, is wrong again. I am not a bad composer - I'm a … [Read more...]

Rocky Mountain Premieres

Next week, March 29 and 30, I will be the featured composer at the fourth annual Open Space Festival of New Music at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Previous composer recipients of this honor have been excellent electronic composer Paul Rudy, Christian Wolff, and French computer composer Jean-Claude Risset, so it's difficult to imagine where this trajectory is going. They're planning to perform my Olana for vibraphone, On Reading Emerson for piano, my mixed quartet Kierkegaard, Walking, Siren for five flutes, and my choral piece … [Read more...]

Fallen Among Thieves

I had to change my e-mail address and web site location. I've been using Earthlink for 17 years, paying $62 a month (which I understand is rather high), and last month my rate jumped to $562 - that's not a typo. So I challenged the charges and the bank got my money back, and, looking around the internet, I see that Earthlink has devolved into a gang of thieves: charging people for things not wanted, refusing cancellation, all kinds of stuff, and if you try to complain you're talking to someone in India whose English you can hardly understand. … [Read more...]

Here It Is, Your Moment of Zen

New piece: The Unnameable. 12:10 UPDATE: For many years I have been trying to compose using the harmonic series, and in a series of studies for my three-Disklavier piece, including this one, I've finally figured out how to do it. The harmonic series in its natural pitch order (high harmonics on top) is a rather thin thing to work with, creating wan parallels. But if in one chord you use the 13th harmonic near the bottom and the 5th on top, and in the next chord you have the 11th on the bottom and the 9th on top, and so on, one can create a … [Read more...]

Phil Winsor (1938-2012)


Peter Gena writes with the saddening news that composer Phil Winsor died in January, and he'd only just now heard. In the 1980s in Chicago, Phil, Peter, and I had a truculent, short-lived organization called the Chicago Interarts Ministry. Phil was one of the early Downtown-style electronics composers at the San Francisco Tape Center (participated in the premiere of In C, as I recall), and a writer of books on electronic-music topics. He became a postminimalist, and was featured on New Music American 1982, the Chicago year. Later, after I left … [Read more...]

The Elusive Incriminating Evidence

I keep hearing that people are seeing Facebook photos of me interviewing Phil Glass. I won't join Facebook again, and I can't find them. I would be grateful (perhaps eternally) to anyone who might send me a couple. E-mail address at my website. … [Read more...]