This will be…

…my first post from Australia! Things are going well, and Sara and I are finally settling in after some couch surfing. Our apartment looks like an IKEA showroom, minus some arrows on the floor (and yeah, the meatballs). My job requires me to take the train into the city every day, which makes it feel less like a part time retail gig and more like a legit “JOB” job.

Composing-wise, I’ve just finished a duet for flute and trumpet, Weak Pass, a title that doesn’t quite lend itself to confidence, but is appropriate nonetheless. It’s getting done in August at the National Flute Association conference. So that’s pretty awesome. It was commissioned by Brian Glass and Emily Gail Nelson. If you’re gonna be there, you should check it out! I wish I could be there myself.

I begin work on my dissertation in earnest in August, taking the next two months to fix up a paper as part of my degree requirements, as well as to rest my (burnt out!) brain before getting to work. Still, I’ve gotten my orchestra template all ready to go:

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I originally proposed to do a mega orchestra cycle which asked for an entire second brass section and electronics, but that got watered by my committee to a 10-12″ standard orchestra piece. Which, don’t get me wrong, is useful. I intend to shop it around once I complete it. Still, I’ve gotta put aside all of my Mahlerian ideas for something a little more…um…portable.

I was trolling Facebook the other day (which has become my only lifeline to classical music since coming here), and stumbled upon Matt Marks’s post about the classical tendency toward obfuscation/complexity over simplicity/ directness. He touches on something I feel every time I put pen to paper (rather, finger to track pad). The comment section is a wealth of perspectives on the issue, which is that many composers feel an urge to make our ideas more complex than they are. Several people take a swing as to why, but my favorite points come from Daniel Felsenfeld, who early on points out that it may not be complexity that we’re trying to get at, but ambiguity; my other favorite points come from Alex Temple, who refutes the subtext that repetition (a technique used to contextualise) equals redundancy, and that “difficult” music somehow has more content, and is therefor more worthwhile.

This subject could be its own book, and really needs to be drawn out more, but I’m at the end of my train ride, and I’ve got phones to fix and asses to kiss.