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This 16 message thread spans 2 pages: [1]  2  > >  
  Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 16:36 on 04 September 2007
 

Hi, please take a listen to my new work for Piano called Blue Epiphany...

http://www.devilishpublishing.com/pd_xt/d0728.swf

and rate it here: http://www.devilishpublishing.com/rating/d0728.php

  Re: Blue Epiphany  Misuc at 14:20 on 15 September 2007
 

You - or your publisher - don't give us the opportunity for making comments or even for registering less than 'OK' status.

Obviously there is no point in destructive comments, but discerning criticism is something we should be prepared to listen to and accept or refute.

I listened only to the first three hours (experienced time) or minutes (actual). I think you have allowed yourself to be swayed by cliquish trends on the part of careerists within the music-biz who have an interest in giving little leeway for dynamic concepts, contradictions, imaginative leaps and insights etc. for the composer and still less for the listener to do.

This may put off fellow musicians with active brains.

This would be a pity, because underneath that monotonous and irritating surface are the germs of what could become ideas. If you give up the habit of writing what you can get away with (audience bashing)and allow yourself to develop your ideas as far as you can take them and to trust your and your audience's imagination you could still achieve a lot.

If you would like me to go into more detail I will, but I believe that you yourself know what I am talking about.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 21:59 on 15 September 2007
 

Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated the time you put into it, although I think you wildly misunderstood the work or took it too much at face value.

But given that you don't like Steve Reich, I can see why you wouldn't like my work.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  dunkinwedd at 10:15 on 22 September 2007
 

Cripes - you don't hold back, Misuc, do you?!

First off, James, congratulations on getting published - you must be pleased.

Second, I think Misuc's view - and mine - are coloured somewhat by the computer-generated performance which perhaps does you no favours.

Like Misuc, I think there are some great ideas in there and some nice jazzy harmonies - I was reminded at times of Keith Emerson.

But like Misuc, I think minimalism has its own dangers. The borderline between hypnotic and boring is a fine one to tread: in the hands of a genius like Steve Reich it can be inspiring, but for us mere mortals it is risky. And brevity is the soul of wit.

It is very easy for us to get carried away on the tide of our own inspiration and forget to look at things from the listener's point of view - composer-centred music rather than performer or listener-centred. Bert Harrisonwistle, of course, claims not to care if there is an audience or what their reaction is, but I think that's a mistake. At the very least, if people like it you'll sell more sheet music.

As a listener, then, I enjoyed listening to it - once. I wouldn't particularly rush to hear it again, as there doesn't seem to be more to discover. But I wish you every success.




  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 14:29 on 22 September 2007
 

I run my own publishing company now; Devilish Publishing. I was published when I was 18 but decided a few years later that I had the capability to start my own firm.

As for the electronic performance, I agree with you, this is one piece I was hoping to not have to use the computer; If there are any Pianists out there who wish to record it for me, I'll be happy to send a free copy.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  scott_good at 13:19 on 25 September 2007
 

hello,

i'm on the same page as dunkinwedd. solid comments.

mr misuc, you certainly like to share your strong opinions...perhaps you could enlighten us all by providing some details of your existence. perhaps you could share some of your music? i can't wait to hear the music from a composer that thinks john adams has the musical maturity of a 9 year old - it must be something pretty special!

but james, i think it is pertinent that you get this recorded by a pianist. the midi sounds awful to my ears. also, it begs the question "why hasn't a pianist performed this piece?" it's not very difficult. i would suggest to all composers to try their best to have their music on display played by the instruments they are written for. as soon as i hear midi, i think amateur.

scott

  Re: Blue Epiphany  Misuc at 22:47 on 25 September 2007
 

It is people who don't find things too easy who tend to develop strong opinions. It is not necessarily a sign of being better than the time-wasters like Adams etc. It is a sign of having seen the need to sruggle: of having artistic goals at least.

If you don't agree with those opinions, then the best thing is to either a] ignore them and just go on working as before and prove that your ideas are better in your work or b] state what you disagree with and why.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as intrinsically good or bad music. you can't 'prove' a piece good or bad. But it is not entirely subjective either. There is music with less or more content.(= 'meaning'. More content is not the same thing as having more notes, of course. Even having more ideas does not necessarily make for more content than a small number of ideas placed dynamically etc. But, all the same, just pumping one or two 'ideas' and pushing them until they die does preclude the piece from being able to develop any meaninful content at all, doesn't it?

Music has to be seen as a social act as well as a solitary aesthetic concept. [In this context, what is the 'meaning'of saying the same thing over and over again?] So there can be music as a contribution to the development of human culture and there can be music as a form of antisocial behaviour. Musicians with a serious purpose want to learn from the whole multi-facetted heritage of music that has been left to us from the experience of humans over countless millennia - they feel a need to assimilate all this and to add to it and extend its range. This means grappling with deep and fundamental questions and coming up with answers that others have not yet found. This may sometimes be seen as 'elitist' though in fact it is deeply socially responsible. Occasionally it can be deep and popular too, but it is not surprising that this is rare. It is not a question of accessibility or popularity or the reverse. On the contrary, in these sick times, it is often the music which most insults the sensibilities and intelligence of its listeners which gets most bums on seats. That is part of the marketing and the 'free' market system which is destroying the planet: a system which depends on cheating suppliers, consumers rivals and the general public. The musical embodiment of this slick marketing and the whole tricksy business which modern capitalism has got itself involved in is this effortless music which slips by like the background noise at a supermarket. It bears the same relationship to real music as that white slimy stuff the supermarkets sells to real bread. The life and content is removes and then it is watered down, processed and sold en masse.

But that's only my opinion. I am happy to share it with all of you as I am happy if each and every one of you will share your opinions with me. That is what these forums are for.

Yes. I do find that my music is better than Adams'. I would like you to hear some of it. I will see what I can do to get some of it up and look forward to reading your responses, pro or contra

  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 12:06 on 26 September 2007
 

Excellent - can't wait to hear your music. I don't think it was perhaps a great idea to say you think your music is better than Adams', but I'll take it as a tongue in cheek comment.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  Misuc at 14:35 on 26 September 2007
 

Definitely not. This is not arrogance on my part. Everybody's msic is better than Adams'. Well that's not quite true. Adams is good at what he does in the same way that Hitler was good at what he did.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 15:05 on 26 September 2007
 

So do you just dislike Minimalism in general or is it just the old-school minimalism of Reich/Adams/Glass, etc?

What do you think of Michael Torke, for example?

  Re: Blue Epiphany  Misuc at 15:50 on 26 September 2007
 

I don't know Torke's work. By the way, it is not a question of liking or disliking something, it's a question of how you evaluate something. Anyway, you can't like or dislike a whole 'school' regardless. I am in favour of Satie's minimalism or Liadov's. These stupendous composers tried to pack as much expressive 'information' into as few notes as could be managed. That way each note carried more weight. This was Haydn's philosophy too - one of my all-time favourites. In another sense it was Webern's method too. I love folk and tradional msic of all kinds too. Just to take one example of the most absolutely minimal thing possible: just listen to the Folksongs for Children CD in the Folkways 'Sounds of the South' Collection. Listen, for example, to Almeda Riddle singing 'Go tell Aunt Nancy'. It creates a whole world - a vision of life and death and how people (and a goose) cope or do not cope. It has humour and pathos and drama and yet it remains 'cool': true to its purpose of entertaining and diverting children. It does all this with no more than six diatonic notes of unaccompanied singing.

It is not impossible that Torke's music can do as much but I doubt it.

[By the way, Adams has written pieces that are not quite 'minimal' in the usual sense. I very much liked some things in his violin concerto. But as time has gone on he has got smugger. He demurely boasted that he had got the idea for the last movement of a piece I listened to intently at a recent BBC 'Proms' concert from his ignorance of the name for a comet: Hale Bopp (it became 'Hail, Bop'!) His lack of respect for astronomy would not have mattered if he had shown a little respect for the great masters of Bebop of which he apparently knows nothing. I was angry because I love bop and have myself used bop-like sounds and a bop spirit - as far as I was able - in the context of trying to build an extended new-music vocabulary. Whereas I felt he was fooling around with his own very limited vocabulary like a precocious schoolboy]

  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 16:07 on 26 September 2007
 

Children's music - yea, much better than John Adams! (Now that's tongue and cheek!)

You do talk a lot but make little sence, Misuc. Some form of humility might go a long way. Either that or keep quiet and let your music do the talking.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  Misuc at 18:42 on 26 September 2007
 

If you have an opinion, then put it forward, That's what this forum is for. Try listening (e.g. to the CD I referred to] Comment when you've heard it. To try to hide behind famous names and to expose your prejudices so openly is an insult to the forum. I am sorry if I have hurt your feeling. Believe I did not mean to. This is not about you or about me. It is about a standpoint on the issues of music in our time. Can you understand that? Please reply in that spirit, if you want to contribute.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  James McFadyen at 20:41 on 26 September 2007
 

You haven't hurt my feelings, I was just trying to give you a little bit of advice.

I like the minimalists and I understand you don't. You mention Satie, but he was more of the impressionist school (i.e from the french school as apposed to the american).

Trust me I don't hide behind famous names; If I don't like someones music and they ask for an opinion, I'll give it - no matter who it is.

I feel the same way about Cage as you do about Adams'; Cage to me is anti-composer, but I wouldn't inflict it other people, I recently started a post on this forum regarding Cage asking for peoples opinion while offering mine in a controlled and slightly humourous way.

As a side note, I'd didn't really care for Adams' Violin Concerto, probably because of the departure from his more minimalist tendancies. But the very fact that I love minimalism and you don't means we will never see common ground in this subject and thats fine. Just because I like minimalism doesn't mean everybody else does.

Like I said, a bit of humility; Composing should make you humble if you go about it the right way.

  Re: Blue Epiphany  scott_good at 02:16 on 27 September 2007
 

misuc,

you are a man of conviction - of this there is little doubt.

and your mind does seem quite open. this is good.

(but, you will hate torke - this is completely predictable.)

I have not heard hale bopp. in fact, i haven't heard anything new from adams in awhile. but, my memories of certain works from the 80's, especially "Harmonielehre", "The wound dresser" and "Shaker Loops" to me fit perfectly your criterion for quality (Harmonielehre in particular is magnificent.) Each tone contains vital energy which transfers through to the next. These works embody a grand experience - something touching on coping with the immensity of existence. Melody, rhythm, and harmony work together - their vitality complimenting and contrasting appropriately.

Sure, not all of his works are great - some kinda suck. But, he produced these 3 works, and thus I believe deserves more respect. Is he pompous now? Probably, as power is almost always corrupting - and he certainly has power.

misuc: "Music has to be seen as a social act as well as a solitary aesthetic concept. [In this context, what is the 'meaning'of saying the same thing over and over again?]"

here is 3 off the top of my head:

1. To create an internal sense of context, like a poem with regular meter and/or rhyme.

2.To create a canvas on which to say and juxtapose other things - to highlight their contrast, such as what Monet's haystack sets say about light and colour, but not haystacks.

3. To meditate. That, btw, is the raison-d'etre for the minimalist movement - to repeat sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much that the mind is brought to another perception of reality. And the science behind it says it can work, and actually bring the mind to a state which is both highly relaxed, and a flowing state of joyousness. (sounds good, eh?)

misuc: "Musicians with a serious purpose want to learn from the whole multi-facetted heritage of music that has been left to us from the experience of humans over countless millennia - they feel a need to assimilate all this and to add to it and extend its range."

I only partially agree. But of more fundamental importance in my mind is the act of creativity, not the acquisition of knowledge. More important is passion, not intellect. Of course, it is a complex art form - as you put, subjective, but not entirely. But the works I most admire are the ones which display intense creativity and emotion, not necessarily ones that are smart and historically aware (would not your example of Almeda Riddle singing 'Go tell Aunt Nancy' be a case in point? How about your example of Jelly Roll Morton? do you think that they studied all of the world traditions of music and came to this concussion?)

misuc: "in these sick times, it is often the music which most insults the sensibilities and intelligence of its listeners which gets most bums on seats. That is part of the marketing and the 'free' market system which is destroying the planet: a system which depends on cheating suppliers, consumers rivals and the general public. The musical embodiment of this slick marketing and the whole tricky business which modern capitalism has got itself involved in is this effortless music which slips by like the background noise at a supermarket. It bears the same relationship to real music as that white slimy stuff the supermarkets sells to real bread. The life and content is removes and then it is watered down, processed and sold en masse. "

Love the bread metaphor! Perfect. I hate that white bread garbage - and it's just like 90% of what you can get in the super-duper markets - ka ka.

I think perhaps one of the most interesting articles speaking to this subject is the one written by Walter Benjamin (In the 30's if I'm not mistaken) called "Art in the age of mechanical reproduction". It's a great read and I recommend it to all. Perhaps the most important ideas on the transformation of the meaning of art through technology.

And I agree with your points, but, I'm not sure it is manifested in your musical tastes and prejudices. Perhaps we are dancing on the subjective edge. For instance, I think Cage has pertinent ideas for todays society in his work, both musical and verbal. His ideas on diminishing the presence of ego in art, on questioning imposed authority, on perceiving works of art within different frames, and on how composers should seek to find their own process (to speak of a few) have had an impact on not only how I compose, but how I listen, and how I perform. You on the other hand think he is dead and irrelevant, so gain nothing from his vast output.

Perhaps you are correct, or maybe you will change your mind later - I did.

And, as a little aside with large implications, I believe that it is lack of creativity in the collective conscious of society that is one of it's greatest cancers. Lack of creativity creates a void, and, in a world with so much "spare" time, this hole is deep, and will get filled by the capitalist consumer machine, with all of its cameras, lights, and action - with it's plastic film - with it's insatiable hunger. (note: somtimes I think people feel they are being creative by choosing what tv to watch, or which celeb they love...). If we collectively approached the world with more creativity, and less on myth, superstition, trends, and passive participation, we wouldn't need so much junk. We should eat, play, listen, live and love creatively, and not just learn what the right buttons are to push.

At any rate, I appreciate all of the positive musical examples you have put forth, and hope to hear some of them in the near future.

Scott

This 16 message thread spans 2 pages: [1]  2  > >