25 Questions

1. Should a modern artist be judged against only the very best works of
the past?
should an artist be judged... if you're looking at individual works, I would tend to compare them to other works; artists, to other artists

2. Can there be truly objective criteria for judging a work of art?
no. can there be truly objective criteria for anything? is this a question about function / utility, actually?

3. If a composer can write one or two or more great works why
cannot all of his or her works be great?
who says that? but works are written for different reasons, and so, since they came into being different ways, this is going to affect whether or not they are great -- not to say that great works can't be commissioned, or tht mediocre works be "inspired" but that this is one factor among many which differ work to work by the same artist, and can have an affect. time of life, what was going on at that time, time to create the work, time between reception of the work and its creation -- also factors

4. Why does the contemporary artistic establishment remain so conservative
when other fields embrace new ideas?
there's a lot of embrace of new ideas as marketing / fundraisable / grantwritable in the arts as eslewhere -- especially in technology or in application of technology to the arts, when these new ideas are essentially corproate / capitalistic ones, rather than the artistic ramifications of these, etc., or rather than recognising these aspects of the ideas and seeking to create conscious of them

5. Should a composer, if confronted with a choice, write for the musicians
who will play a piece or write for the audience who will hear it?

6. When is an audience big enough to satisfy a composer or a musician? 100?
1000? 10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? 100,000,000?

7. Is the symphony orchestra still relevant or is it just a museum?
I think very few musician / arrangers / composers know how to use or apply a symphony, and when this happens -- people forget how to use a tool (oftentimes because it is expensive)

8. Is micro-tonality a viable compositional tool or a burned out modernist
Charles Ives put it, the "notes between the cracks" of the piano.

had to look tht up and it is hard to imagine anything Ives did as burned out

in any case, are there exhausted concepts? are there exhausted concepts in modernism? my guess is that certain avenues seem less fruitful when many have recently followed them and have returned poor results

9. In an orchestra of 80 to 100 musicians does the use of improvisation make
any sense?

10. What is the dichotomy between dissonance and tonality and where should
the line be drawn?

Dissonance has several meanings, all related to conflict or incongruity

Dissonance in poetry is the deliberate avoidance of assonance, i.e. patterns of repeated vowel sounds.

ok, that poetry use is so formal and specific that it seems rather useless, while the broader application of the term seems to be quite interesting, having something to say about our current time, especially some of our wars / bad foreign policy and my current rewrite of the art of war

11. Can the music that soothes the savage beast be savage?

what is the music that soothes the savage beast? in some respects, it is civilization itself, isn't it? so then, can civilization be raw and wild and cruel -- savage? of course; but here, the civilization is soothing because it is the oppose of savagery, soothing is the opposite of savagery

12. Should a composer speak with the voice of his or her own time?

how can one not

13. If there's already so much good music to listen to what's the point of
more composers writing more music?

duh; there can never be too much good

14. If Bach were alive today would he be writing in the baroque style?

maybe, there is a lot of neo2 baroque out there

15. Must all modern composers reject the past, a la John Cage or Milton
Babbitt's "Who Cares If You Listen?"

john cage's poetry didn't reject the past, so -- I'm really not sure how this applies -- this should really only be a question about what modernity is, not what conposers should and shouldn't do -- so, does modernity involve rejection? not in my opinion

16. Is the symphony an antiquated idea or is it, like the novel in
literature, still a viable long form of music?

well, the novel is pretty antiquated, and we can see this through the rise of nonfiction -- not memoir or creative nonfiction so much as -- you know, why read mitchner;s POLAND when you can read a good history?

17. Can harmony be non-linear?
dunno; my gut says "yes"

18. Was Cage's "4:33" a good piece of music?
I think it was a great piece of performance art -- it is only secondarily a piece of music, but it is a great piece of music

19. Artists are expected to accept criticism, should critics be expected to
accept it as well?

yes. duh.

20. Sometimes I'm tempted to talk about the role that corporate culture
plays in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs throughout the United
States and the world, and that the opium crop in Afghanistan has increased
by 86 percent since the American occupation, and the fact that there are
126,000 civilian contractors in Iraq, but what does this have to do with
the question is to make these things - what you want to say about them -- into music, and I think it is possible

21. Can the orchestra be replaced by increasingly sophisticated
computer-sampling programs and recording techniques, at least as far as
recordings are concerned?

no, or rather, the live orchestra and the simulated orchestra are two completely different types of performers / yielding completely different types of performances (and this is brought up most clearly by the case of the -- dead? crippled? violinist, I think, who, through computer enhancement and mixing, has been releasing "new" performances)

22. When a visual artist can sell a one-of-a-kind work for hundreds of
thousands of dollars and anyone on the internet can have a composer's work
for nothing, how is a composer going to survive?
And does it matter?

doesn't matter, although

When a visual artist can sell a one-of-a-kind work for hundreds of
thousands of dollars and anyone on the internet can have a composer's work
for nothing

begs examination -- for example, can a composer create a one-of-a-kind work? can a writer? A writer can, but unless there is a visul aspect to the writing, reproduction doesn't *seriously* degrade it

23. Should composers try to reflect in their music the truth of their
natures and the visions of their dreams whether or not this music appeals to
a wide audience?

again, why bother saying what artists should or shouldn't do

24. Why are advances in science and technology not paralleled by advances in
music theory and compositional technique?

these advances are, in science, largely filling in the gaps of what is known, sometimes by applying new technology in order to see things and test things; in technology, it is mostly applying science in new ways; it is easy to see that in art and culture it is different, since music is a human structure or realm, for example, so theory in general is another structure or realm applied to... etc.

also, technique isn't the same as technology, really

25. Post-Post Minimalism? Since Minimalism and Post-Minimalism we've seen a
short-lived Neo-Romanticism, mainly based on misguided attempts to return to
a 19th century tonality, then an improv scene which had little or nothing to
do with composition, then a hodge-podge of styles: a little old "new music,"
a little "60's sound colorism", then an eclectic pomo stew of jazz, rock and
classical, then a little retro-chic Renaissance … even tonal 12-tonalism.
And now in Germany some "conceptual" re-readings of Wagner. What have I left
out? Where's the music?

where you find it


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