Sunday, August 3, 2014

The triumph of the editorial

A while back there was some debate if art for arts sake was dead.  It is certainly down for the count as much recent music has become a place holder, or a backdrop for something else.  Style* is not an issue, works can be consonant or dissonant as long as they are incomprehensible and associated with the current cause of the day.  Oddly, in an area of artistic discernment the more we judge musical "books" (titles),  and composers by their covers.  Before today composers were noted for their individuality, and if they belonged to certain schools or styles that were musical.  Now composers represent concepts that are extra musical.

Joining music and politics leads us down the road of grant generated art where social work can be celebrated without the artist doing any social work.   Granting organizations and the curators for the 1 percent  can be enablers for these concepts.  Its a new subset of the call to patriotism. Being a "cause" composer is the acceptance that the music is secondary to the cause.  But, music being secondary to the composer themselves is already well known.  Lets say it plainly; composers and their editorial are more important than their music.   If a composers message is ecology then listening to the music must purify water.  Everything taken at face value and listeners and critics alike abandon critical thinking.  There is no interest in abstract music except that it can be pined to an editorial.  The only possible  upside here is the long neglected discovery and nurturing of Indigenous artists unless they too are asked to represent stereotypes. 

The reality that composers could work the system is well founded, especially as critics have no interest in those who are not constantly performed.  The composer as lonely hero or heroine genius  is dead but what replaces that idea?  Everyone is an artist?  The artist is integrated into society?  Artist as yuppie?  The artist purified in the crucible of the people? Unfortunately, the jettison of composer individuality or genius does not remove careerism or the need for constant activity to prove success. 
We must not close our eyes to the dirty business of success. 

 Don't believe the hype.

 *anything as long as its not serial

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random thoughts about music on the net

We have always privileged presenters over artists in music.  (Hence the push for new musicians to be entrepreneurs). Right now the net has grown into one of the largest repositories of music.  
On the net Music is content and someone is going to make money from that content.
Period.  If its not the artists getting paid then its going to be the web providers (the presenters).
Those who think that music on the net is free are kidding themselves because the whole apparatus of the net and its inherent costs, subscriptions, and fees are required before you can download or listen to anything.

The all encompassing scale of content that these providers present is the end result of the destruction of the relationship with the artist.  Its the presenters profits that are based on this destruction.  Its just the same as when the profits of scale destroy businesses that feature relationships, i.e. mom and pop stores.  Relationships are expensive to maintain as they require time and husbandry, and dare I say it, you have to care about the artist.  

Not much profit in that. 
Applying scale to music is the Wallmarting of art.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What happened to progressive American Music?

I think two things killed the progressive spirit of American music.

  1. The Arnold Schoenberg Institute leaving America.
  2. Pierre Boulez replacing Leonard Bernstein at the NY Philharmonic.

The first one is direct -not here no influence. The Second one is indirect.  

In the American mind Bernstein can not be replaced.


That it would be by Boulez was a strategic blunder for progressive music because this led to musical-political tensions that still remain.  It did not matter how great Boulez was as a composer, or as a conductor, Boulez didn't actually replace Bernstein as a composer.  In the game he trumped an American Icon, and as imaginary as that is, it is also how the game played out.  

Oddly, Boulez was not that interested in American Serial Music preferring to perform the European composers, or the leading American composers of other styles. 

NMB round ups

Phil Fried
The question is who has been commissioned in this context and what were the results?
Its true that market forces rule and if a grants organization wants to emphasize a particular style of art or music they do that, and not just at “artplace.” The fear that trained classical composers are an unlikely fit here and that these opportunities seem more appropriate for sound artists seems real enough.
Yet who are composers that artsplace intends to place? Not our leading or star composers certainly. Who is left? On the other hand there is a tension between a composer and the community even if that has been denied on these very pages by a few of our very successful fellow composers. That artists are an agent for community revitalization there is no doubt, that a plan can be created to keep them in place is speculative but perhaps worth trying.
Just because 1920′s Paris, among others, is gone does not mean that all artist colonies devolve into tourist traps or gentrification. 
Phil Fried
How I loved the Mad Show, I wore that record out. My parents refused to let me see the show. Evidently not for kids. The “Hate song” still has its power. I loved that song so much that I transcribed it from the recording because the music was out of print.
Farewell Mary Rodgers.
Phil Fried
The point of “occupy” is to speak truth to power and in the best American sense perhaps level the playing field. For this to work in an arts context there are some real problems to consider.
Arts its a different kettle of Fish. Unlike the arts no one lives in a “banking community.” For many the arts are their life.
Also Wall Street and the banks have a lot of customers.
Musical institutions make very few commissions and they tend to use the same or similar people over and over. Also popular music is a gigantic industry with a very small percentage of successful musicians. In both cases those empowered with success become celebrities, but more important they are the power. At least for the moment. Who are these famous people going to speak truth to? Or for? Certainly they have nothing to risk. Can Philip Glass speak for me and my music? Will he give up a commission so I and others can be performed in his place? I’m not sure he could do this even if he wanted to.
How can we propose a revolution in classical music when the folks claiming its leadership are the very folks we need to replace.
The dragon does not slay itself.

    1. Philip Fried
      Unlike occupy wall street, its not easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys in the art world.
      Further complications include the fact that the 1 percent are usually arts benefactors, and that no one is in actually charge of the American musical arts scene. There is no donkey to pin a tail on. On the other hand success for an American composer means sponsorship and composers can freely chose to align themselves with the workers or the management.
    2. ----------------------------------------
Phil Fried
The song in question is a comic song. Comedy is can be dangerous because its habit of offending someone. Jobs have been lost on private jokes made public. It is easy to misunderstand or be offended by a joke that tells a positive story in a negative or profane way. It seems that few of my fellow composers are known for their sense of humor. My own attempts at humor here have been misunderstood more than once.
Phil Fried
Isaac it looks like the above folks have it covered as it were. All 3 above make interesting reading, besides them there are 1000′s of composer blogs out there. A brief goggle of any of the posters here for say the last few months will show that most of them have their own blogs.
I do.
My problem with mainstream criticism is that it only focuses on mainstream activity. Another problem is that critics are not hired because of respect for their opinions but because their bosses believe that their opinions reflect the majority of their readers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

about Klinghoffer

 This so reminds me the Paul de Man episode; the supporters  support,  the haters hate.  Besides the music there is, at least for me, one problem with this work.

"This is a straw man."

No actually its Mr. Klinghoffer a real person and a victim.  To my knowledge the authors chose not to get the permission of the Klinghoffer  family to use his name.  That falls under the category of cultural appropriation.   This is a mistake especially as other characters in the opera are fictionalized.  I suppose what the Klinghoffer family experience is not much different from what Native Americans have been experiencing for some time.  Mr. Klinghoffer is executed in a depiction he did not chose to illustrate someone else's reading of these tragic events.

Why use his name at all?

Anyway, this is not an isolated case.  Cultural appropriation is the dirty little secret of the entertainment industry.  Many award wining films, plays, books and their respective actors etc. take part.

Running roughshod over the oppressed to tell their story is simply wrong.

Right now their are protests to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in MN for similar reasons.

Phil Fried
Sadly, political battles have very little to do with the truth.

No sonic prejudice.

Phil Fried

Sunday, May 18, 2014

NMB round ups

There is nothing here.  The point being that you can't turn artistic questions into true or false.
Sadly every time esthetics are called upon it to deny some style of music the right to call itself music.  In this case its the gesture composers calling out the the serial composers. No matter how incomprehensible the gesture composers approach is  they never see their own limitations (or their commonality with serial approaches) only their supposed freedom.  

Phil Fried
A music delivery system that would provide quality assurance is an interesting proposition.
Perfection can certainly be achieved abstractly except for one thing.

My problem is that unless we attach the system to actual music we have no idea what is what.
On the other hand there is good reason not to mention any music at all, because if you mention specific composers you will create problems for yourself, your colleagues, and your teachers. Real music would spoil the perfection of the system as folks endlessly argue the merits of this composer or that. (Or this teacher or that).

Since quality doesn’t equal success, real musical examples are dangerous because those who are deemed unworthy have a disconcerting ability to remain and prosper, and occasionally have influence on your career. Despite the tradition of inter school rivalry the teachers of the “poor quality” composers also frown on such criticism.

Acceptance of the musical world can not be bound by any system unless its a system of acceptance. We must all learn to live in a messy world.