Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 1 - CMS National

Well, the first day of the College Music Society Conference is over and I am super tired and ready for rest so that I am ready for more music and discussion tomorrow.

So, a short recap of day 1.

8 AM - MAX/MSP getting started session. I was reminded of what I like about this programming language and I think I am ready to bring that technology into the fold at CSUB. The leader of the session, VJ Manzo was young, hip and engaging. Also, he is working on a book about MAX as a teaching tool.

For information on MAX/MSP, go to

9 AM - A scholar from Argentina talked about the Tango.

Very cool discussion of a dance/song form that has permeated music from all over the world and has roots in Cuba (habanera).

A performance of modern Tango's followed with a quartet. Very good and lots of extended techniques they talked about that were idiomatic of the style.

11 AM - A talk about recording techniques that started poorly and was too simple for me. Basically how to get signal into a DAW.

A bit too "in the year 2000" for me.

There were a series of 10 minute talks about technology - one by a FB friend and a composer I have appeared with on many programs and two CD's recently - Jay Batzner.

It was great. He talked about the history of electronic music and how specific tunes have led to our current music. He drew a line from Xenakis to Lady Gaga - that's all you need to know. Jay is compelling, funny and smart. Nice to finally meet him and chat tonight.

After lunch, a panel of five theorists and musicologists talked about music by living composers - including two of my pieces.

Nico Shuler talked about Duality in Time and Bruce Taggart talked about Hop, Skip and Jump.

Both guys did a great job - Nico with a really cool analysis of each gesture and motive. He just dug in and got it all.

Bruce talked more about form and gesture and delineation of structure through gesture. Loved it all.

After the talk, a concert ensued where about 14 pieces were played, including my two pieces referenced above.

Michael Drapkin played "Hop" and he had some strong ideas about interpretation and even said that the piece was "overmarked". He changed the shape of the piece and while most of it worked just fine, his idea about tempo (about 12 BPM slower than I marked) was too slow. The piece stagnated a bit at that tempo - in my mind.

But, he played it really well, and made beautiful music with it. It's interesting, even too slow, the piece worked really well. I'd like it quicker, but it was good.

Evan Jones (Cello, Florida State Univ) and Rachel Bergman (Flute, George Mason) played Duality well. It was more dainty than I expected, less adventurous and less powerful. They played it well - but it lacked a bit of energy and power. But, again, I am very thankful to have these amazing players play my music. Just an awesome treat.

Thanks to all! Day 2
Is shorter. Thank God.


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