I'm thrilled to announce that second Golconda album, Book of Rain, will be released April 5th at http://golcondamusic.com. The album contains six new compositions based on medieval troubadour songs. I play guitar, piano, and even (gasp) drums, and sing. Special appearances by two lovely and talented string players I met in Banff, as well as a cameo by Mr Robert Louis Stevenson himself (public domain).
The new record is a big step forward, and I know those of you who liked Lost Horse Porch Music are really going to enjoy it. I can't wait to share it with everyone in just under two weeks! More news and information soon.
I've recently posted many of the musical fruits of my recent (somewhat epic) stint in Banff. To summarize,
Redstone May 2009 is a piece I wrote for Disklavier player piano, premiered my last week at the Centre. Unfortunately, due to technical issues during the concert, I can offer no video of the Disklavier working its magic (the visual element is a wonderful aspect of the player piano medium), but I do have a complete audio recording.
The Lost Chorales were written in December and recorded in March. I've loved chorale writing ever since my counterpoint lessons at EAMA in 2006, and I still find the interplay of three or four lines a wonderful way to generate harmony. The ten chorales are very short but display various aspects of my interests in this area. A hermetic feeling is also involved.
If I may indulge in a bit of personal myth: this is the sound of my studio in Banff, looking at the big window across the valley to Sulphur Mountain, on a -25 degree day, at that moment right before dark when the whole world would suddenly turn a deep blue color. (The colder it was, the more intense the color became.)
Night Air, my terse and quiet chamber orchestra piece, is now displayed with its fine recording from the premiere performance by the Chicago Composers Orchestra. I've also reprinted my program notes from the concert.
The Piano Inventions, from November, are three short piano pieces based on free improvisation sessions that I recorded and later transcribed and lightly edited.
For convenience's sake, the Lost Chorales are published to my Lake of Five Oceans bandcamp page. For the record, I conceived of the whole Lo5o concept/moniker as a part of the Castle Rooms and Landscapes project, and I don't particularly intend to create further music as "Lake of Five Oceans." I think from this point the things I do as a composer/pianist will exist under my name, and the folksier, singer/songwriter, indie stuff will fall under Golconda.
I've been known to change my mind about these things, but that's the band-name status quo as of early 2011. Further updates as things develop!
For all the complexity and plenitude of our thoughts regarding the music we do, it's amazing the extent to which they can be affected by very simple changes in terminology.
The other day I was having an email discussion with Jim in which I cited a favorite definition of "classical music," which is a paraphrase from an old Kyle Gann essay in Music Downtown -- it's global, it's broad, I like it, it describes the music not by style or social context but by function.
"Classical music is any ritualized music intended for listening."
Jim suggested, and this is so small and yet so powerful, that we excise the word "music." Which makes sense, right? Because having it in there makes the definition circular. So it's much more logical to say,
"Classical music is any ritual intended for listening."
I find this change brilliant and liberating. Because it's the "music" part that creates division, that invites the endless questions about genre and context and meaning. If you have "music" in there you get debates about what is and isn't music. Not to suggest that this formulation can't be bickered with, of course it can, but I think it's more workable insofar as we can all understand that we create rituals around listening. The definition posits that when people do this, they are making for themselves a classical music.
Then I was reading Alex Ross' article "Listen to This," which he begins by mentioning, and appropriating, the jazz world's practice of referring to their tradition as "the music." Throughout the essay, then, where one would expect the phrase "classical music," he supplies instead "the music."
He's talking about something different; my definition includes much (not all) music from the jazz and rock traditions, whereas Ross is discussing that which does come from the notated, European-inherited, "classical" tradition.
Which is fine. It's just amazing how much this broader formulation alters the tenor of his sentences. Look at an observation like, "The music attracts the reticent fraction of the population." He could have written, "Classical music attracts the reticent fraction of the population." The feeling is incredibly different.
In college, confronted with the value of lots of contemporary music I'd previously failed to understand, I began to set my tastes and opinions aside. I tried to move past simple statements of like or dislike, feeling they contained little information, were always informed by ephemeral subjective influences, and would always change before too long.
But "objective" information about musical quality is laced with subjectivity, too, if not founded upon it. There are so many competing views, so many different criteria, so many different values to put in order.
A few years, two degrees, and a lot of listening later, I'm getting a bit tired of the noise, and I find that my own tastes and opinions are about all that I can count on.
They remain mutable, but actually I've grown to find some comfort in this.
I maintain that they contain little information about the music, but recognize that they represent much information about me.
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts