1. The best we can expect from a work of art is transcendence. The second best is permission, which is actually sometimes better.
2. An idea for an ambitious artistic project is like an idea for a tattoo. It’s probably best to ignore it at first, but if it doesn’t go away for a year or two, you may have to deal with it.
3. Is there any correlation between good art and bad behavior? What about artistic breakthroughs and reckless choices? Or maybe creative work and some brand or another of indulgence? Asking for a friend.
3a. Well-behaved composers rarely make history.
4. Sometimes I think “album” as a genre never got past the physical capacity of the vinyl record. Forty minutes is an album. Sixty or seventy minutes is a double album. The break in the middle, after twenty minutes, helps. We could use that.
4a. It’s a rare album that can succeed for fourteen or fifteen tracks over sixty or seventy minutes without any break.
5. In composing: if it’s not fun, or beautiful, I don’t have to write it down.
6. Classical music runs on mastery; new music runs on, well, novelty. Will these things always leave us wanting more? We’ll never be masters enough, and new things get old.
6a. I’m moving toward a model less about mastery, more about work. Less about being good, more about doing good.
6b. About telling the truth without apology.
7. I’m amazed that anyone can spend a long time working on weird music and not have it reconfigure their ideas about lifestyle.
8. A while back I decided it would be a good marketing choice, when making initial descriptions of myself as a musician, not to use the word “composer.” Lately I’m thinking, when people ask what kind of music I make, I should try to avoid the word “weird.” For me there is a smile in that word. But for some, it may sound like I’m giving them an excuse.
9. Work on music for long enough and you’re going to end up doing some serious thinking about what time is.
10. Let’s all agree to stop clapping between solos, start clapping between movements, and take it easy with the standing ovations.
11. It’s funny when a nonprofit starts acting like “growth” is important, because the people on its board are capitalists. A nonprofit is not supposed to grow, except incidentally. It is supposed to follow its mission. Similarly it is possible for an individual to be nonprofit in a capitalist context. Many of my friends are this way. They have a mission and they behave with relative consistency according to that mission. We don’t aim at profit. We hope, perhaps, that profit will find us.
12. RIP Tony Conrad. This must be the most intense Plagal cadence I’ve ever heard.
10 Best of 2014
January: Wyoming and the Open
February: New Mexico and the Holes
Notes on The Accounts