Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This is the beginning of Around The Bend, a blog about the music I love and why. Upon arrival in NYC back in 1987 I immediately gravitated to the wilder side with an interest in how things work that still fascinates me today.

Novel sounds still grab me as well as novel approaches compositionally. I question what it is that draws me to the new and novel. I can only think that it is because I was encouraged to listen to everything I could for my instrument as a kid and that translated to everything else over time. This makes me think that we need a new approach to getting the audience into the hall. Themed concerts, celebrity buy-ins and the like are beginning to be explored to some success. It is necessary for the audience to be interested enough to talk about the experience to others in a compelling way.

The musical experience is always being recreated by musicians. Their specific reinvention of the sounds in real time rely on their own collective (or solo) interpretation of the composer no matter what the style. Composers in turn have to start from somewhere and almost all musical styles have accepted ways of fashioning pieces that will bear that style's name. This is changing as younger composers in the jazz and so-called classical fields pick and choose from their favorites all over the world, not just building on what's come before. This is a great entry into the musical process for many. If you like Radiohead, then you should like a group who plays their music or something like it.

The concert experience as museum piece is fine as far as that goes. However, without engaging the "luxe crowd" (that generally shows up to the millionth performance of Death and the Maiden) with the music of today, we will continue to see a shrinking audience at that demographic. Putting old an new together can only work if programmed with care. Many young groups today are doing just that with great success. Others simply use some piece of music or style from the past and make that their own.

Any way you look at it music is moving around the bend.


alisa4k said...

Your concern about getting audiences interested and motivated to visit the concert venue is significant and timely. The days of Toscanini, Reiner and even Bernstein are over and cannot be reclaimed. The question is - why would we want to reclaim those days? Indeed you reveal your bias against that oeuvre with words like "so-called classical" and "luxe crowd". We need to move forward and embrace what comes next, whatever it may be. Marketing, promotion, and publicity are as far away from the creativity of making music as one can get. Just ask any musician. But without audience, do we have performance? Do we even have music if there's no one listening to it? These questions and the like are left to the concert hall directors, marketing managers and music series programmers. And as artists continue to be creative in hopes their message is heard, they must also delve into the business of warm-bodies-in-the-seats.

Douglas Boyce said...

though i think that alisa4k has a valid point here, i think that we should avoid presenting dichotomies as more substantive than they really are — it is not clear to me that we must choose 'concert hall' or 'not concert hall,' nor must we rely solely on the models of a few artists/public figures. There are actually lots of models for artists out there that can allow for a reasonable level of public visibility (and shouldn't that really be audibility...) and compensation with out devolving into simply counting ticket stubs. i for one am excited to see someone in the field thinking about these things, and being open about their thought processes. thanks and good luck!