Monday, February 21, 2011

Questions for Temp'6ra

The place of contemporary music on the cultural scene

In the United States, where success is measured in fame and money, there is no place. Even less than
for poetry. The trend has changed away from an intellectual approach to composition. The younger
composers observing this are now trying to redefine contemporary music along the lines of David
Bowie and in that way break back in to a success. Their problem is that they want to compete with and
be one with Elliot Carter and Eminem in the same breath. Though interesting things may develop I don't foresee any cultural change.  

Not for the music that I am interested in that is Serial and Free Jazz improvisation. 

Since no one is in charge of the arts scene the Universities
simply take what is happening as the focal point. They don't dig deeper and why should they?
The analytical tools they use are not style specific and can be used to support or describe any musical
style. Anyway no one reads their journals outside their own memberships.  The million dollar pay day is the price of cultural relevancy here and that is reserved for film composers or the composer of the moment who creates a visual new music theater work.

In the United States my place as a composer is defined by whatever else I do besides composing.

How to develop a «contemporary thought» of music?

Music evolves and every generation stakes its claim but we have seen that with art a majority rule is
fatuous.  Good music doesn't always fit the trends of our time. Fundamentals of music have not
changed but the approaches have. This includes music created by the art school trained sound artist.  They may have no musical background yet use music in a visual way with technology and multimedia.  Further the visual
arts and technology have rendered music generic. Though no one would rewrite a digital novel most
of hip-hop music is sampled work created by others—essentially remakes of oldies. So many
arrangements of composers music (Band) that I hear are also like this. It makes the creator of music even less safe
among the profession.

To have a contemporary thought of music we need to decide are we:

1. Inclusive or exclusive?
2. What are our shared values?
3. What do we value?
4. How would we define competence?
5. National or International?
6. Indigenous?

Is the dependence to cultural institutions inevitable?

The problem here is that in the United states the audience is out of the picture. Music is defined by
institutions, gate keepers, Universities, granting organizations etc. On the other hand if you want to
work for the “public” you must pander to its needs.
The answer here is yes because all those entrepreneurial independents end up becoming institutions

How music-teaching structures should improve their involvement in music of today?

There is a terrible disconnect between the new music faculties and the education faculties in the United
States. There is no connection at all here. The level of ignorance is total. There is no knowledge of
the K-12 curriculum and how it does, or does not, cover recent music.
Any change would be great—but that would be an institutional change.   And sadly it always seems that change comes from the top down from the folks that know the least to the folks that know the most.

How to create new organs to promote contemporary music?

You would have to break up the specialist turf wars and find common ground for competing styles. 
Is a successful composer to be portrayed as the winner of a popularity contest or as a chosen insider?  Perhaps the leader of a style team? 
Create a magazine that was inclusive yet scholarly. But it must not be beholden to the new music
industry or the colleges. 
Perhaps you could call your new magazine The Losers.

 The problem with composer organizations today is they are about featuring only the most successful or the ones with an important new event.

On the other hand there are so many composers.  

Can networking in an international solidarity be a long-term solution?

It can help.

Dr. Philip Fried,
Independent Composer
Saint Paul MN USA

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