Wednesday, February 28, 2007


So I have posted a few what I found interesting posts this month: I have once more decided that musicians can be creative, but I'll talk more about that later. For now I think I'll actually talk about what I've been up to for the month.

so I have been applying to Masters programs in vocal performance. I already have things that I would have done differently and the results are not all in, but more on that in the event that I am not accepted any where.

I vacillate between feeling confident about my ability to get into programs and thinking that I don't have a chance. Why I vacillate this way is partly confidence and ego and partly that I am a slightly different candidate than most people applying for masters. My undergraduate degree is fully theoretical...not that the degree is is a literal degree, but that the things that I study are theoretical. So I've taken some killer courses on cognitive science and musical theory, Galileo's astronomy, astro-physics, and other such gems. However I have not been trotting to Juries every few months, I have no diction classes, no movement courses...and gladly no review "Art song through the ages". I just made that up, but it seems plausible.

So that said I'm super ready to just focus on singing for a while, because it is what I love the most, and what I'm best at.

This month I've been to two cities that I've never been to before! Both for under 24 hours. The audition in California went really well! they were positive and even worked with me on a technique they were interested in seeing me develop. They chatted with me for some time, and expressed that they saw a lot of potential in me. However they also said that they would call, and they haven'

Texas was sort of mechanical. I was in and then I was out, I don't even know if they will remember me. I'm just another lyric soprano in the crowd. I also heard rumors that they call there too...again nothing. The people there were very nice though, and the guy adjudicating the enormous test we had to take was nice...the test was also not too bad.

Chicago audition for north Carolina school was disappointing. I sang fine...but I just sang fine. I was also the youngest there by I'm not holding out any hope for that one.

Chicago audition...went really well! They had a really good set up where they had a undergraduate and a graduate student in the little stage anti-room where you stewed before your audition. they convinced me to sing the Laudamus Te (Mozart) even though it's long...because I sing the crap out of those runs. you should have seen the smiles on their faces when I sang them! They also knew both my teacher and my coach. So I'm really hoping hard for that one.

Anyhow that's the potential excitement/disappointment in my life.

someone took my hat and gloves


Monday, February 19, 2007

creative musicians?

I was pondering a project for a class that I am taking and deciding whether to do an analytical project or a creative one, when I had some troubling thoughts:
What could I possibly do that is creative? I'm not particularly creative....but how could that be? I'm striving to be a musician! being creative is part of the whole allure...yes?

Well if you think about it a musician could get along without being creative at all. If you just do what everyone tells you to do you'll be fine.

of course of course there is more to music than notes that are put together.

but think about it. A musician learns a piece for notes. Then depending upon the piece you get another set of information from the composer, how is it to be played when? You go to a teacher, they explain what technically will make the piece wonderful. You go to a coach they tell you what specific emotions to place with the music...perhaps they ask you to come up with what you think the emotions should be. Finally it is the musician's job to take all of these directions and perform. Notes, language, history, emotion all of these things are wrapped up in a performance, but is creativity?

So is emoting on stage an art? Is creating a sublime integration of what you know about the piece for the performance creativity?

I once told someone that a singer can move you even if they don't know what the piece is about. That part of performing is knowing how to move people.

I'm not sure that I really believe this, but there certainly can be artists that simply are able to be vessels of other people's creativity.

I like to think that the best, and the greatest musicians are tremendously creative. The most moving performances must come from a deeper well than years of coaching. Look at Yo-yo Ma. He is one of the musicians whom I respect the most. He is truly a musician and an artist. He is not simply a fabulous cellist but an innovative thinker who is interested in exploring and creating new music. Take a look at his diskology, there is tremendous depth and variation. He is not afraid to go and explore a music that he has no familiarity with, he does not simply stick with "what has worked" but pushes at the boundaries.

In conclusion I love Yo-Yo Ma

Saturday, February 10, 2007

a sample of my distraction

I just watched an episode of the OC....I know I know my brains are going to rot out and die, but I just have a question.
how old are these kids supposed to be? 15? 16? and 17? I mean they're all played by actors my age at the very least. Which isn't all that much older, but those 4 to 6 years at this point in our lives makes a tremendous difference.

on a more serious note I have to write this dialoge as several critics reviewing a concert by Uri Caine.

Uri Caine is an avante garde jazz musician who does....well the best word I've heard used for it is deconstruction.
He takes Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart, and does adaptations or interpretations of their works. It's pretty cool. I'm not as a rule a tremendous fan of avante garde Jazz, I in fact take up large issues of continuity and form (I know I know the very things that they are rejecting) with them.

But in any case this is interesting because I know the pieces that he is playing with and can therefore take pleasure in his changes. I like it, I don't think that it is something I want to listen too on a regular basis, but I really like it as an intellectual exercise regarding "classic" music.

Well that above statement brings up two things in one go:
1. what is the point of music if you don't want to listen to it on a regular basis
2. is there any music that one actually does want to listen to on a regular basis, and does it have more or less value if you do?

it would seem that all music is written with the intention that it would be listened to. I'm not actually sure if on a regular basis is actually necessary, but to be listened to and enjoyed to such an extent that one would wish to listen to it again. There are certainly some composers out there who do not write in such a way, but they are trying to stick it to the man, and well for them it's lose lose. They lose if they are (by their own definition) successful because no one listens to, knows, cares about, and therefore buys their music. they lose if they are (by society as a wholes definition) successful, because people listen to the music that they did not mean to be listened to.
And of course if they are really successful they can only be seen as a sell out. And as Adorno so kindly puts it, this results in the complete emasculation (actually I think Adorno says castration) of the musician

for me there is actually no particular type of music or piece that I want to listen to all the time. Certainly I go in and out if phases of certain music that I want to listen to at a certain point, but never am I compelled to listen to listen to a certain type of music all the time. That said I don't even desire to listen to music all the time. I have absolutely no desire for an I-pod at all, nor do I listen to music all the time in my room. In fact I listen to music less and less as I study music more and more. I guess I find myself too engaged in the music to have it merely be background music...there's a pretentious word for this..diagetic music??? It appears I just made that word up....I remember my second year of college I took the required intro to ethnomusicology class an we had to make a list of all of our "musical interactions" of the day. This included things like rhythmic tires and feet and birds that we noticed that day and made us think of music as well as music we listened to and rehearsal that we went to. I remember one guy in the class, in the usual pretentious way, made the comment that he could never listen to music as merely background music, or something to manipulate his mood, this would be degrading the status of music as it is art that one should be engaged in. I thought he was completely full of it (this is the same kid who last year when we had to write a canon for musicianship skills chose the chords D flat diminished and C augmented (or something to that effect) to write it over but that's another rant for another time) but at this point I can sort of understand why he said that. I certainly don't agree with him, I certainly do listen to music as background music, and use it to manipulate my mood, yet I understand the desire to actively engage in it.
That all said I guess my feeling is that if you listen to a certain type of music all the time you might be cheapening it for yourself, and that no great music is not something that someone wants to be immersed in all the time.


Monday, February 05, 2007

musicians and their labor

“Of course filmmaking takes energy, but at least I’m not doing alienated labor.” R.W. Fassbinder

For a couple of weeks I've been mulling over a question that my friends father asked me. This was do musicians think of themselves as regular laborers. My initial response was well no, because they are creating art.

But this wasn't really satisfactory, I mean certainly it seemed to be true, yet one could imagine a situation in which an individual played an instrument...let's say the oboe, showed up everyday, played the notes in front of them and then went home. In fact I imagine that this actually is the case in some circumstances.

What defines a musician for me is someone who always strive to make music, who are actively engaged with their work, as Fassbinder alludes to not alienated from their work. Here in lies the difference between an artisan....and well a brickaleur (I think a brickaleur might be an artisan as well, I really just wanted to write brickaleur) more aptly put someone working on a manufacturing line straightening wire for pins....if we lived say 300 years ago, or you know when Adam Smith lived, whenever that was... whatever my point still stands.

So can a musician be alienated from their work? I would argue yes, but if they are they were not approaching the situation as a artisan or true musician would. What creates the difference is the effort and care that is put into an item. One does not look at a pin and say, I sharpened the point of that pin, however one does look at a performance with a personal investment. Despite how much we musicians try to avoid it, and say that we create music for ourselves, and the music making process is mostly outside of performance and therein lies the most important part of music, the judgement of a performance weighs on a performer.

anyhow, perhaps I'll rehash this when I have a better head on my shoulders.