Thursday, December 20, 2007

new music

I wrote a song yesterday. I studied music composition as an undergrad (my BFA degree is from Cal Arts) but I don't write music very often anymore. Singing with the Gay Men's Chorus has got me thinking musically again. And I've been inspired by our high quality music at church, and in particular a member of the congregation who is a vocal professor at UCLA. It was his voice I had in mind when I wrote my song.

The text is a poem from Cymbeline, (read it here). It's a meditation on the peace of death which comes to all and releases us from the cares of living.

My setting is a very standard kind of modern art music. I'm happy with it. But I realized as I finished that I had created music very similar to the kind I would have deliberately avoided when I was writing music in school: sober and staid. At the time I wrote music that was meant to be fun but provocative. My intent was to find a path toward building an audience for art music that had retreated into a rarefied club of mostly academics. I didn't want to write music that you had to have a degree to enjoy. At about the same time composers like Steve Reich and John Adams were proving that music could be both serious and popular. Now, divorced from any pretense of working as a composer I'm free from that mission to save the genre and I feel free to write whatever I like personally. Of course i do have a degree in music but I still hope others will listen and like it too.

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