Get Your Hands Dirty

(best if read while listening to “the dimension toll booth,” one post down)

Contemporary composers…..  What can I say, I’ve met quite a few.  I’ve been getting this nagging sensation lately whenever I hear what some contemporaries of mine are saying regarding what I consider to be important aspects of music.  That nagging sensation, its the cross between a pencil up my nose, fingernails on a chalkboard and dishwasher detergent on my tongue.  Yes, an assault on the senses.  What’s important to me is inspiration, creativity and freedom.

So when I hear you (if you’re reading this) claim that to compose properly is to be academic, I would have to say I disagree.

If you say a composer creates better music if the composer performs as well, I would say that’s a ridiculously asinine statement.  Don’t conflate the two, please.  Lets move on.

If you were to say that the act of composing itself is restricted purely to the academic world, I would casually reply “fuck off.” The dream of the snotty academic.

My advice to you for this lecture is to get your hands dirty.  Let me explain:

When I hear you talk about music, I get the sense that you think about your composition similar to how you think about yourself.  You wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush your teeth, shave, put on your suit and tie (lets use a man for this example shall we), eat breakfast, kiss your wife goodbye and stroll out the door.  When you compose, you are dressed well in a figurative sense.  Your composition requires thought, effort, integrity, and principles.

I say to you, (if you’re still reading this), you are lazy.  You are unwilling to get your hands dirty.  Get in the mud and roll around.  Free yourself of whatever restrictions you feel you have, and from what I’ve heard you say, there are plenty of them.

First, I want you to pound on the piano.  Why?  Because you pounding the piano in whatever shape or form is creating something more original than you’ve ever accomplished.  I know you aren’t the only one pounding the keys in the classical world, but its a start.

Secondly, I want you to compose strictly by improvisation.  Yeah, that!  The jack off, anyone-can-do-it thing.  So lets hear it.  Can you retrieve your primal instinct or do you want to stay safe within the confines of a library?

Lastly.  I want you to learn, but not just about history.  I want you to learn about your contemporaries who are getting their hands dirty.

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