Sunday, May 20, 2018

As many have witnessed, often, a new music composer's career is rarely made on one composition





As many have witnessed, often, a new music composer's career is rarely made on one composition, rather it’s the long and slow accrual of published scores, performances, recordings, activities, community service, and so forth that firmly establish one’s reputation.
And yet, we now live in a moment of the bounce, where Google Alerts are triggered at the mere mention of a composer's name or work, or tweets can ricochet information about a performance to thousands of followers in an instant.
It’s certainly gratifying for composers — often working alone — to know minute-to-minute that someone out there is engaging with the work.
And it can be addictive.
In the new information landscape, it’s the re- gestures (the retweet, the reblog) that seem to carry the most weight. For example, the popular blog Boing Boing doesn’t create anything: they simply point at cool things. And the gesture of Boing Boing pointing at something always trumps the thing at which they are pointing, making us aware that the new power-base is in the filtering, distribution and management of information, not in the original creation of it.
For example, If I tweet something that I know takes a long time to digest — say, a lengthy experimental abstract composition score — a minute later, I find that it’s been retweeted by dozens of people. Now while many may be familiar with that work, most aren’t. 
And most haven’t even engaged with it. But rather, it’s the name-check and the cool-factor of the information combined with the passion for sharing it, which creates a bounce. 
The citation, the act of moving that information, has more cache than the object to which its referring.
All of this is to point out the new quandary that composers — whose notions of composing and performance were forged in the age of the slow roll — face in the age of the bounce. 


To construct a career as a composer based on the ephemerality of the meme is at once thrilling and terrifying. 


Embracing it is like jumping off a cliff and freefalling, throwing away the script that we’ve come to know so well. Yet it seems inevitable; it’s clearly the next move; it will happen. The question is how it will happen and how much human intervention will be necessary to successfully sustain it as a viable compositional practice. 



I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a composer who doesn’t have their eye on the bigger picture; I can’t name a composer — even the most radical and “uncreative” — who would choose the model of a bouncy meme over the slow roll of music history. 



But that too will soon be changing.

"Pumper Wired Alambrada" for Cello. The Score



"Pumper Wired Alambrada"

For Solo Cello

The Score:  32" X 14"

Bil Smith Composer

A commission from ENI SpA

Premiere:  January 12, 2016.  New York, NY

Full Score































Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Freight Riding Seduces Me Into Denying Whenever I Can". For Solo Tuba. World Premiere: Bill Pritchard




"Freight Riding Seduces Me Into Denying Whenever I Can"

For Solo Tuba 

World Premiere: Bill Pritchard

Bil Smith Composer

Published by LNM Editions

Partial notes to Bil Pritchard on performance of this work:

As far as the interpretation of the performance notes... I obviously have a vision...and yes, it is intended to be a bit provocative and well...interpret it as you choose. The inclusion of actual notation in the performance notes is meant to "set the table" for the composition. It's more of an directive device as to what's about to come. Not necessarily does it need a literal interpretation.

The actual piece begins on page 4. If you notice there is a certain typographical treatment used in this work which is fairly consistent. The tablature (notational system) is intended to steer your initial decisions to treat certain symbology with a specific musical treatment (rendering). The key is that once you commit to interpreting a specific symbology, you commit to interpreting a specific symbology, you attempt to maintain that treatment when it appears later in the work. Of course, there are variants throughout the work, but the original interpretation should reflect the spirit of your previous interpretation. 

Bill Pritchard