collaboration as performance

Two friends of mine (thanks Ilya and Brian) recently gave me the idea of blogging the compositional process. This is something that is common in other fields (programming, cooking, engineering, etc.), but is relatively rare in music. Our work is usually done alone, in privacy with another musician or ensemble, but almost never in the public eye. When our work is presented to the public, it is (we hope) developed and polished, a proper representation of the music as it was idealistically conceived in our mind’s ear. In my humble opinion, presenting only the finished performance perpetuates the romantic stereotype of the composer as the eccentric genius, but most musicians will tell you that during the majority of the composition/rehearsal time, we rarely know exactly what we’re doing or what specifically we’re trying to make. Actually, I don’t have the data to back this up, but I would imagine that many of my colleagues would agree with me… Creating music (for me) is like creating your own map to an imaginary place you’ve never been, then suddenly being teleported to that place wearing a blindfold, and expecting to find your way around. Most of the time, we’re just wandering around in the dark trying to make sense of things.

Anyways, this blog is an attempt to bring the compositional process into the public eye, to scrape away at the all-knowing composer stereotype, to offer my methods as an object of criticism and critique, and to start a conversation. How are we creating performances in 2017? What are the nature of our collaborations?

In the next posts, I will discuss an upcoming project of mine. This May I will be traveling to Berlin to collaborate with dancer Yuri Shimaoka, tubist Jack Adler-Mckean, and contrabassist Adam Goodwin on a new work titled “ironic erratic erotic”. This work will be created using compositional and improvisational methods (which I’ll explain further in a later post) that are novel to both myself and to the performers, and I am eager to share them with you all with the hope that this documentation could inspire some interesting conversations.

Bis bald!


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