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1. If you could be an active composer in any other time period, when and why?
Paris in the 1920's
Most apartments hate dogs so.... I guess I'll go cat?
3. Would you rather…Be the first person to walk on Mars via a one-way trip or never go to space?
Never go to space.
4. You’re trapped on an island. There is one electrical outlet connected to a boombox from 1992. When you were stranded here you only had time to save one cassette out of collection of singles. What is the one pop song you will listen to for the rest of your life?
In 20 years my kids will be confused why Daft Punk wasn't the biggest musical act of the 00's. I'm going with Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (and if Rob only allows one song I'd pick "Doing It Right")
5. Who are 3 composers from the past -AND- 3 of your own generation whose music you respect, enjoy, inspires you, etc…
Past: Franz Schubert, Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky
Present: Trevor Baca, Matthew Ricketts, Justin Hoke
If Walls Could Talk for violin, cello and piano
I really dig the harmonic material of the slow sections. I do not dig the execution of those materials.
I also really dig the gestural smearing in the faster sections. But, I don’t really dig the rhythmic…cuteness, I guess is how I would put it.
The last slow section is really beautiful.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s talk about the first issue. Many times in this piece, I wish things were presented less matter-of-factly and had a bit more gesture. This occurs in the piano, but also in the strings. I think this has to do with some of my compositional aesthetic when it comes to electronic music. Sounds should have a reason to exist. If they appear out of nowhere, the audience has the expected response of, “where did that come from?” But, if there is an established syntax of cause and effect in the compositional language, then sounds are brought into being for a reason. As composers, are we God or do we believe in the Big Bang? That is an overly simplistic (and possibly offensive to some) view of this issue but, it truly changes the way I listen to, compose, and analyze music.
Of course, a “where did that come from” moment has its time and place. But, in my opinion, the listener should have some idea of why the violin and cello come out of nowhere on a M7 interval. Maybe I’m making a bigger deal of it that is necessary but the lack of gesture in the slower sections leaves them dull even though the harmonic/melodic material is very nice. A bit more elasticity and decoration in the process of composing would do wonders for this piece. All this being said, the work is quite advanced for a composer as young as Ben is. Nice work.
I would encourage everyone to listen to Ben’s piece for flute(s) that was played at the Charlotte New Music Festival, which is posted here as well. I remember thinking good things about it when it was premier. I couldn’t listen to it today because China is getting so much more terrible with the Great Firewall and certain times of day are completely useless of the internet. Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube…pretty much everything I use to create this blog series is blocked in China and only accessible through a VPN which slows down your connection which from 5-12pm everyday is competing with literally a billion other people trying to use the internet at the same time. So, I didn’t get to listening in time and well…#China. Sorry, Ben.