I finished a movement of my string quartet today, which felt great! I gave myself the evening off of composing to recuperate. Puttering around Twitter, I decided that I should actually listen to some composers on Twitter. It has always seemed to me that all of us are so desperate to be heard by whatever mystical (read: imaginary) audience of potential lovers of our music is out there, that we don’t spend any time actually listening to each others’ stuff. That’s a waste of a lot of website design time and money, folks.
So I picked someone at random. Not even a follower/followee, just someone that Twitter said I should follow. And I went to her website, and found out she’s pretty damn accomplished, which is cool. And then I took a listen to this piece:
Now, there’s a lot going on in this piece. It has some pretty interesting stuff going on. There’s some organized movement going on, and the stage setup is pretty badass. The sound world contains some really cool stuff. But by the end of the piece, I was left disappointed. I feel like this piece is indicative of so many pieces I’ve heard. It’s a string of awesome sounds surrounded by a nifty staging concept, but it doesn’t feel like a cohesive piece. For lack of a less well-worn term, I wasn’t moved.
This isn’t a question of style, at least not on the surface. The style is cool (granted, it’s not what I would write, but I still recognize that it’s executed well enough). I guess my problem is that it’s language signifies “the new,” but really doesn’t present us with anything actually new. It’s a postmodern look back at the near past. And without the shock of “the new,” the purpose of Modernism’s great path forward to the future, the piece loses its teeth. The stage movement is a page taken from Crumb, but the ceremonial nature of the performance isn’t there. It’s devoid of his spirituality. The movement doesn’t bring anything to the table from the acoustic standpoint, either. It’s a blind reference, and comes off to me as insincere. I feel like there is a similar signing going on with the language of the piece, as well. The trumpet soloist hardly plays any traditional pitches during this piece. It screams, “I am contemporary!” There’s a kind of unimpeachable nature to the music; it’s like an end unto itself.
All of this makes for a piece that is interesting, but not moving. I, for one, am tired of finding pieces only interesting. I want to be moved. That doesn’t mean that I want to drown myself in sentiment. I just want to actually be told something, not just go through the motions of dialogue.
Am I alone here?