Posts Tagged ‘Creative Hive’

Old Friends

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

On Sunday, John, Anton, Hans and I began rehearsals for our performance on October 13.

When I get a new performance opportunity, my gut instinct is to find a whole new program – music we’ve not performed before. I don’t know exactly where this impulse comes from. Perhaps it’s from my earliest training, in elementary and high school, where the three or four times per year concerts were always done with new repertoire.

Of course, that made complete sense in context. Our dedicated audience consisted primarily if not exclusively of our parents. And the ostensible reason for the music program in the first place would have been to expose us to different composers, styles, et cetera.

But does that approach make sense in the context of an ensemble like this one? Unlike in school, we don’t (yet) have a dedicated/exclusive audience. Each new series that books us brings in their own audience, and we bring along what audience we can (are you on our mailing list?). This means that, probably, the majority of the audience at any one concert has not heard us or our music before.

And so, relieved of the burden of complete originality, I have set a program for October 13 that is 80% the same as our performance on March 10. This means that these pieces, rather than being oh-my-god-what-is-happening-here exercises in learning notes, are old friends to us.

Playing through the list (see the post promoting October 13 performance), I enjoyed the feeling of recognizing what I was doing, of hearing the harmonies clearly, instead of the muddled-up confusion that often accompanies our first readings of things.

Yes, I do feel a twinge of guilt at this. There’s still something in me that wants to demonstrate my readiness for a challenge, the challenge of mastering something new. And it is also the case that when Michael Hovnanian left the group, he expressed frustration at always working on the same material. (And no offense to Michael, we were a bit stuck in a rut at that point. It’s one of the reasons I invested a good chunk of cash in repertoire the following year.)

But there exists also the fact that “mastery” is not necessarily achieved at a first performance. Assuaging my guilty feelings, I set a new challenge, that we will play these old friends better than before.

I would love to hear from those of you who perform regularly in your own groups: what’s your philosophy for adding or changing repertoire? How important, how often, HOW? Please leave a comment!

Opening the Kimono

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Now here’s an interesting (maybe) debate. Or maybe you’ll find the answer completely obvious. I have made a very rough, raw, poorly played cut of about the first three minutes of the ensemble part for Autogenous Mining. The question is this: how public should I make this?


Part of me says: don’t reveal anything. Part of the fun of the creative process is displaying something “brand new” only when it is ready. I’ll be taking away from the excitement of “the premiere” of the piece in February. AND you don’t do yourself any favors by showing yourself to the public when you’re not at your finest.

Show Off

But there is definitely another part of me that is excited by the prospect of sharing what I’ve begun, no matter how incomplete*. This is in the spirit of the creative hive that I wrote about a few weeks ago. What will the hive think of this? Will the feedback say “good, go on” or “bad, maybe you should reconsider” or perhaps offer more subtly creative input than simply good|bad? And there’s a somewhat pragmatic benefit to publishing “as you go” in that it could get people more interested in attending the premiere.

There are potentially other (small) worries… this is of course a piece written by someone else. And even though that someone else is a close friend, he might feel differently about revealing something which is very much incomplete.

But there’s a lot of good to doing the work of previewing the piece in this way. Most notably, I have firmly decided that I will NOT assign myself voice 4. My bass has an unfriendly wolf on the first octave harmonic on the A string. If I were to play the opening note of the piece, it would set an immediately unsophisticated tone for the piece. And I really am interested in the initial comments that might come from the two or three of you who have read this far and bother to comment.


So in case you didn’t guess already, I’m not debating here, I’m rationalizing. I really really want to put the raw recording out into the world and see what people think. So have a listen. Let me know what you think. I hope it intrigues you and that you enjoy it. But I also hope that if you feel differently about my decision, or if you don’t like what you hear, that you’ll say so.

I really do look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Raw tracks of Autogenous Mining on Soundcloud

And of course, if the feedback says so, or the composer requests it, this will come down (and an explanation will be given).

As always, thanks for any comments you care to make! And please +1 or share this post with anyone in your network who might be interested!

Postscript: At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, there is no way that I would post such raw stuff if it included unwilling colleagues. Only my own noodlings would be exposed this way.


* Just how incomplete is this? Some answers:

  • The piece is about 7 minutes long; what I’ve recorded so far is just about 3 minutes.
  • The piece is scored for 4 basses and interactive electronics; this is basses only. There will be some great atmospheric (or something!) electronic sounds running along with this.
  • The piece should be executed by four players, interacting with each other and the “computer operator” (what a sad description–Mike, who is the composer and will be “operating” the computer, is a very talented musician. But perhaps he’s describing the role ironically!); the raw 4-track version is a single player (me) playing to a click track.