I hope you enjoy participation on the List! I've been on it off and on
for a fair number of years--can't tell you exactly since pre-2000 archives
don't seem to be available. [I have them going back tothe beginning -
the problem is that we have limited space on the server for these, so
as new archives appear, I have to roll off the old ones. -Dave]
Back in the '90s there were a lot of spirited discussions and arguments,
but since then, contributors seem to have realized that varying tastes
do exist and you can't argue someone out of one.
I wish there were more discussions, but fewer people, myself included,
seem to think of interesting topics that haven't been gone over and over
I spent some time on your website, and think how the Web has changed
things radically in the time the List has been active. Like Nolan Gasser,
a West Coast composer I interviewed for San Francisco Classical Voice
recently, your music speaks of a New Americana Tonality, a movement I've
noticed in many compositions over the past several years, works by such
composers as Lowell Liebermann, Kevin Puts and many others.
I know from interviewing many audience members that there is a great
longing out there for a return to music that speaks to audiences
harmonically and melodically. History makes that a difficult longing
to satisfy. Yes, one can borrow from the Vaughan Williams and Rozsa
playbooks for modal approaches, or go back to the 19th-century masters
for functional harmonic procedures, but there are so many difficulties
composers must face for their music to last:
1. There must eventually be something original in the musical voice.
2. Ideally, there should be "grabbers" that hit audiences immediately, but
3. There must be additional complexity and revelation that rewards repeated
hearings--so hard to do now with CDs and MP3s immediately available for
reruns ad nauseam.
4. There seems to be a requirement for polical savvy to obtain performances
from gatekeepers who have very different motives from audiences.
5. One must face it: current and future audience members have grown up
on rock and roll, the preponderance of percussion, and extensive exposure
exotic flavors of world musics. These influences should be considered
if audience communication is among one's goals.
I find the American music scene to be increasingly divergent from the
European one, where guardians of new and old complexities still hold
sway. The postmodern European composers I've spoken to still get a lot
grief from certain quarters. Nevertheless, there are voices from pop
backgrounds or influences that are gaining some credence, like Anders
Hillborg, Torsten Rasch, Mauricio Kagel, Kurt Schwertsik, Liro Rantala
and others. And there are sill a lot of what I would call transitional
voices practicing post-mininalism.
A big difference between the continents seems to be the entrepreneurialism
of American composers, in line with our political climate. In addition
to going after grants administered by academically biased boards,
composers, like those of Beethoven's day, are increasingly going after
well-heeled patrons to obtain performances. Europeans tell me how amazed
they are how low the percentage is of governmental funding of non-profit
organizations compared to private contributions.
I think these are all healthy developments, as long as they don't go too
far the other way and become retrograde.
The only sick part, as we've touched on many times on the List, is the
state of music education in this country. I meet so many composers
nowadays who didn't even know classical music existed until they got
into college, discounting Mozart that they heard at 7-11s used to repel
gangs. Without decent education, our musical culture will never get to
Step 3 above.
I'd be interested in hearing your take on the American music scene. I
wish you continued success in your career and welcome you again to the
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