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Beyond the 88: More no-fear piano preparations

In the last post I talked about some easy surface preparations for piano, but I didn’t mention that there’s a long history of these. Some early piano makers experimented with creating “stops” for their instrument that would change the timbre of the piano. Many of these were essentially mechanisms for surface preparations. The bassoon stop, for instance, lowered a parchment roll (or a parchment roll covered in silk) onto the strings, producing a gentle buzzy sound against the strings when notes w...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Piano, Columns, John Cage, Jolley, Experimentation, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Stephen Hartke, Hartke, NewMusicBox, Extended Techniques, Jennifer Jolley, Richard Bunger, Piano Preparation, Toy Piano


A Musical Oasis in an Icefield

In January of 2016, I boarded a plane from my home base in New York City and touched down a few hours later in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Though I was born in Montreal and lived through its blistering winters for almost three decades, five years of temperate NYC weather had dulled my hibernal instincts: I showed up with a slick coat best suited for a reasonable East Coast urban setting, wearing cowboy boots… …It was negative 40 degrees. Fahrenheit or Celsius, you ask? Doesn’t matter, they’re th...
Tags: New York, Minneapolis, La, New York City, Religion, US, Toronto, Chicago, Canada, Bjork, John Adams, Montreal, Jack, East Coast, Calgary, Commentary


Are Operatic Voice Types Inherently Gendered?

Operatic Voice Classification for the 21st Century is a multi-part series exploring the ever-changing system of voice type in classical singing through a transgender lens. The first installment delved into why opera needs ungendered voice types to move forward, and later installments will discuss possibilities for the continual adaptation of voice classification systems. A quick reminder that all experiences expressed here are mine and do not reflect those of transgender and/or nonbinary people ...
Tags: Google, Religion, Transgender, Opera, Columns, Vocal Music, Fach, NewMusicBox, Vocal Training


Beyond the 88: A No-Fear Beginner’s Guide to Preparing the Piano

In my university music department, I run a weekly composition colloquium, bringing in guest composers and new music performers, as well as faculty speakers, with the latter often coming to talk about things like idiomatic writing and extended techniques for a particular instrument, or setting up a composer website, or digital publishing. A couple of years ago, some of my composition students asked me if I could spend one of those meetings on extended techniques for piano. I dug through my scores...
Tags: Google, Religion, Articles, Tesla, Piano, Columns, Baldwin, Cowell, Curtis Smith, Crumb, Ashley Fure, Experimentation, Annea Lockwood, NewMusicBox, George Crumb, Extended Techniques


Take Better Care of Yourself By Making Small Changes

These days, being a musician usually means managing many aspects of our careers: performer, educator, composer, etc. Then, each one of those inherently comes with many different job descriptions: content creator, marketer, bookkeeper, project manager, writer/blogger, graphic designer, and administrative assistant! Many of us are doing all of those things ourselves, and it’s not easy. So it’s not surprising that it can feel hard to add healthy habits to our lives when not dropping one of the ball...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Stress, Rest, Analysis, Mental Health, Kristin Neff, Leo Babauta, Healthy Habits, Self-care, Burn Out, NewMusicBox, Dennis Tobenski, Megan Ihnen, Mara Glatzel, Angela Beeching


Does Opera Need Gendered Voice Types?

This is the first of a four-part series about operatic voice classification for the 21st century which will explore the ever-changing system of voice type in classical singing through a transgender lens. All experiences expressed here are mine and do not reflect those of transgender and/or nonbinary people in general. My path as an opera singer has been a strange one. I started out as a coloratura mezzo-soprano with a high range, but then I slowly developed into a low, full lyric mezzo. Then, ju...
Tags: Religion, Transgender, United States, Singing, Opera, Kate, Columns, Elizabeth, Le Nozze di Figaro, Dawn Upshaw, Hermia, Cherubino, NewMusicBox, Vocal Arts Program, Bard College Conservatory, Kayo Iwama


Devotion to a Personal Vision—Remembering George Walker (1922-2018)

Frank Schramm’s 2017 documentary Discovering George Walker launch gallery Nineteen seconds of silence are suddenly broken by timpani drums and a dissonant brass fanfare.  Like the majesty of Aaron Copland’s Common Man, but with a trenchant angularity which conjures perhaps a different Americana than Copland could have envisioned.  Now envisioned through the eyes of my father, the son of a West Indian immigrant, the grandson of a slave. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine e...
Tags: New York, Washington, France, Religion, America, Paris, Lodi, Jamaica, Macbeth, Memorials, Verdi, Temple University, Simon Rattle, Ian, Scarlatti, George Gershwin


Charlottesville and Citizen Artistry

It all started with a conversation. My colleague across the hall at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, percussionist Kim Toscano, came into my office one day and we talked for a long time about racism in the United States. Kim is married to Timothy Adams, professor in music and chair of the percussion department. He’s also a composer (and that’s going to be important in my story). Tim is black, Kim is white, and they have an adorable baby boy who melts hearts with kind, innocent eyes. Kim was wor...
Tags: Religion, Atlanta, United States, Athens, Kim, Columns, Charlottesville, University Of Georgia, Tim, UGA, Stan, Hugh, CHARLOTTESVILLE Va, Connie, Athens Georgia, Performing Arts Center


Roberto Sierra: Globalizing Local Experiences

Video Presentations and Photography by Molly Sheridan Transcription by Julia Lu Composer Roberto Sierra frequently likes to tell the story of how, when he was growing up in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, he would hear Pablo Casals playing his cello on television while salsa recordings of the Fania All-Stars blared outside on the street. Most of Sierra’s music—which spans numerous works for soloists, chamber ensembles, and orchestra as well as his massive Missa Latina—has forged a synthesis of these two...
Tags: Asia, Europe, Florida, Usa, New York, Mexico, Germany, Nazis, Berlin, Milwaukee, New York City, Religion, Alabama, America, Cyprus, Earth


The Collaborative Studio: Suggestions for Your Next Recording Project

So far throughout this series on the recording studio and the collaboration within, I have provided a primer on what producers are and what they do, my process of producing non-classical music, how classical music production differs from non-classical, and ways in which classical music production could evolve with contemporary composition trends. For this last post, I’d like to offer up five suggestions for those who may be new to the studio experience—either as a producer or performer—or for th...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Communication, Production, Engineering, Columns, Recording, Studio, Experimentation, NewMusicBox


Crowdsourcing Rehearsals—Part Two (the good part)

In my previous article, I suggested that it’s time to move beyond the top-down, conductor-driven kind of rehearsals in education settings to be more inclusive and more student-focused. We also explored some “whys” of rehearsal, other than preparing the repertoire. Here come some practical ideas to experiment with. Disclaimer: You probably shouldn’t (well, just don’t) try all of them at once. That would not be successful. I certainly don’t employ all of these ideas all of the time. But I do use a...
Tags: Religion, John, Matt, Cross, NewMusicBox, Tim Reynish, Hodgson School of Music


NEWMUSICBOX MIX: 2018 STAFF PICKS

Before we sing another chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” and bring the curtain down on 2018, we have an annual tradition among the staff here at New Music USA of revisiting some of the tracks that caught our ears and hung on for any number of good reasons. Don’t see a 2018 favorite of yours? We hope you’ll tell us more about it below in the comments so we can all give it a listen. PLUS: New this year, you can stream the entire mix using our playlist feature. This listening option will allow you to easi...
Tags: Amazon, Highlights, Putin, Religion, America, 2018, Happy Holidays, Listen, Best Of, Recordings, Puerto Rico, Esperanza Spalding, Mixtape, Julia Holter, Miguel Zenón, Wayne McGregor


The Collaborative Studio: The Past, Present, and Future of Classical Music Production

The previous post in this series took a look into my production process for non-classical projects such as rock bands and singer-songwriters. Although my process changes significantly when I produce contemporary classical sessions, there are a few core philosophical similarities in how I approach a classical project. For this post, I want to walk through what changes, what is similar, and in what ways contemporary classical production can evolve. The starkest difference between the two worlds of...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Columns, Recording, Influence, Coaching, Listening, Producing, Sarah Kirkland Snider, NewMusicBox, Gemma Peacocke


Crowdsourcing Rehearsals

This is a two-part article about rehearsing a traditional large ensemble: orchestra, band, or choral ensemble. Many of the ideas put forward won’t be necessarily new, which is a good thing. It means that many conductors are experimenting with, even perfecting, a more inclusive, student-driven approach to large ensembles. But having traveled around this country and a few others visiting music programs, I’m still struck by the overwhelming adherence to the top-down, dictatorial method of running a...
Tags: Religion, Columns, Sousa, Music Education, Times Square New York City, Wind Band Music, NewMusicBox, Conductor Essay, Randall Everett Allsup, Cathy Benedict, Philosophy of Music Education Review


Retaking the Stage: What Artists Can Be In Our Society

Composer Lei Liang and soprano Susan Narucki were aware they were delving into a topic of immense importance in their new chamber opera, Inheritance, which deals with guns and gun violence. So they didn’t really need a reminder of the issue’s urgency when a gunman murdered 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue gathered for Shabbat morning services on October 27, the day of the opera’s third and final performance at the University of California San Diego. “That Saturday performance was very difficu...
Tags: Politics, Guns, Religion, Articles, America, Rome, Analysis, West, Violence, San Jose, Theater, Opera, John Adams, St Louis, Sarah, White


An “Inspired by Midwest Clinic” Playlist Curated By Nicole Chamberlain

Our goal with user-generated playlists is to give you the power to curate the music you love on our New Music USA platform. You can now save, organize, listen to, and share videos and recordings from both projects and profiles by using playlists. Using playlists is simple and intuitive. When you are logged in and on a profile or project page, if you see a video or sound recording that you want to add to your playlist, just click “Add to Playlist.” Once you do that, you can access your playlist a...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Listen, Playlist, Nicole, NFA, New Music USA, Midwest Clinic, Wind Band Music, NewMusicBox, User-generated, Nicole Chamberlain, About Nicole Chamberlain Atlanta Composer, Kappa Kappa Psi


The Collaborative Studio: A Look into the Process of Producing Non-Classical Music

My first venture into producing was with a Texas punk rock band whose main songwriter is one of my closest friends. The relationship we had was the perfect foundation for me to explore and sculpt my voice as a producer. I had done much work as a songwriter and a composer, but producing required me to give up creative control to respect someone else’s artistry. Not every project can be with your best friends, but it is important to create some sort of relationship with the artists you work with. ...
Tags: Texas, Religion, Articles, Mixing, Engineers, Columns, Recording, Studio, Producing, Mastering, NewMusicBox


It’s Not What We Do, It’s How We Do It: Evolving the Concert Experience

What I’d like to talk about today is what we do, what we believe in, and how we do what we do. Which, I believe, is rather suspect. At the end of this article, there will also be some practical ideas.  You probably shouldn’t try them all at once. And you probably won’t like some or all of them. But I think it’s time that we start thinking more about a pretty important stakeholder in what we do, our audience. I’ll talk about my experience in the collegiate and/or professional concert world, but I...
Tags: Spotify, Usa, Religion, Pandora, Canada, United States, Steve Reich, Beethoven, Columns, Huffington Post, Cornell, Cornell University, Mozart, Erik, University Of Georgia, National Public Radio


Composers Collaborate!

In the beginning of August 2018, I was in Montpelier, Vermont, preparing to give a talk to the students enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Music Composition Program. My talk was titled, “How Many Hats Can a Composer Wear Successfully?”. I looked out at my colleagues in the room. I knew what the response would be: one of beleaguered pride, the pride of a warrior who knows the score and has survived despite the odds against him or her. In that moment, I realized that I didn’t real...
Tags: UK, Hollywood, Beyonce, Jay Z, Religion, Analysis, Chicago, Netflix, Atlantic, Bob Dylan, Mtv, Broadway, Paul Mccartney, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Collaboration


The Collaborative Studio: Roles and Expectations

For many classical/new music projects, the recording process is seen as a conclusion—the culmination of hours of rehearsal and preparation. Instead, your time in the studio can be utilized as another collaborative opportunity to further refine a project and prepare the work for a life both within and beyond a performance. On multiple occasions I have entered a studio feeling fully prepared to record the tracks as I had written and known them for months, only to be enlightened to new possibilitie...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Production, Engineering, Columns, Recording, Studio, NewMusicBox


Jeanine Tesori—Holding Center Stage

Video presentations and photography by Molly Sheridan Transcription by Julia Lu Having the opportunity to spend an hour talking with Jeanine Tesori is very hard to do these days. Having just finished working with Tazewell Thompson on Blue, an extremely timely opera about the aftermath of an African-American teenager being killed by the police which premieres next summer at Glimmerglass, she’s been on-call all week for Steven Spielberg’s new screen adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Stor...
Tags: New York, Hollywood, London, Obama, China, New York City, Religion, Angels, Disney, America, Los Angeles, David, Pennsylvania, United States, Arkansas, Stephen Sondheim


New Music for Old Film

When integrated sound came to the cinema, many theaters fired their musicians and stopped showing silent films. A few hung on and offered the occasional silent film with live accompaniment as a concession to audiences or as a novelty. When home video became a reality via first VHS and later DVD, studios hired silent film accompanists such as Rosa Rio and Gaylord Carter to record new soundtracks for silent pictures. And there was a revival of interest in silent film in the 1970s and ’80s that res...
Tags: Congress, Washington, Religion, Articles, Soundtrack, United States, Museum of Modern Art, Silent Film, Peter Pan, Columns, Valkyries, Peggy, Simpson, McMichael, Blu Ray, Hollywood CA


Music Can be a Counterbalance to Hard Times

Sometimes music is a counterbalance to tragedy.  On 9/11 after the attacks, I walked among the droves of people in the middle of avenues normally packed with cars and got safely home. I thought of my day. I’d been on my way to a 9:30 a.m. workshop at the Foundation Center.  It was sunny and pleasant. When I got to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 15th Street, everyone had stopped and was looking downtown trying to figure out what was happening.  We really didn’t know yet.  The rest is history.  S...
Tags: Religion, Inspiration, Hurricane Sandy, Federico García Lorca, Columns, Lorca, Extra-musical Inspiration, NewMusicBox, Topical Music, Carl Gutowski


Setting the Scene with Sound: (Re)Scoring Silent Film

We all know that the soundtrack changes the way we experience a movie. One of my favorite examples of this comes from a meme that appeared about ten years ago in which participants recut classic films into new trailers in different genres. West Side Story, a tragic musical (original trailer), became a horrific zombie movie (revised trailer), and The Shining (original trailer) was turned into a feel-good family film (revised trailer). When it comes to silent film, accompanists have infinite choic...
Tags: Maryland, Congress, Israel, Religion, Articles, Chicago, Soundtrack, United States, Bradford, Davis, James Bond, North, Archive, Silent Film, Columns, South


Music and a Sense of Place

Have you ever been arrested by sound—music, a bird call or even a siren?  You might even notice, in an Ivesian sort of way, the polymetric pulse of a city or the rhythm of footsteps on the stairs (and their canon with your own). These rhythms say something about the life that created them. How different they’d be in Bali. A sense of place can be the impetus for a piece, motion can be the catalyst.  Beethoven often took long walks, I imagine both to clear his head and to stir his thoughts.  When ...
Tags: Bali, New York City, Religion, United States, Broadway, Beethoven, Columns, Harlem, Northern California, Navajo, Taos New Mexico, Environmental Music, Grand Hall, Extra-musical Inspiration, NewMusicBox, Wurlitzer Foundation


Saving The Earth–Artist/Activists for the Environment

It’s obvious that our physical world is in deep trouble.  Old and new technologies are out of control—polluting our air, water and soil, poisoning our health, heating up the climate to extreme weather changes, and destroying the ecosystems upon which our lives and all living things depend.  What is it that we, ordinary people, can do to force our governments to stop this rape and murder of the earth? We are six women artists. Since we are artists, we will try to help through our art. In 2016, co...
Tags: New York, China, New York City, Religion, Earth, Mit, United States, New Jersey, Antarctica, Manhattan, Pi, Bangladesh, Long Island, Naomi Klein, Mongolia, Hudson


Taking a Cue: Accompanying Early Film

Starting in 1908, film industry publications frequently included regular columns by cinema conductors, composers, and arrangers such as Samuel Berg, Ernst Luz, and Clarence Sinn. These articles offered suggestions—sometimes called “musical plots”—to cinema musicians on selecting and performing music for silent motion pictures. By the 1920s, cue sheets published by movie studios and independent publishers had become ornate, including cue titles, musical incipits, length of cue, and other informat...
Tags: Religion, Articles, Silent Film, Columns, Dvorak, Midwest, Franz Schubert, Mary, BURNETT, Sam Wood, Josephine, Stella Dallas, Edvard Grieg, Grieg, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin


Always In The Moment—Remembering Roy Hargrove (1969-2018)

Roy was a guardian of being. Just like flowers, trees, winds, or a puppy. He said, “The Universe is moving right on time with us. So move on.” He was always in the moment. All he dealt with was the here and now. It sounds wonderful, but it is hard to go through life in that way when everyone else around him wanted more than that moment. People wanted friendship, association, love, a relationship—hoping for a bit of crumbs in any shape or form—which created the need for past and future, for remem...
Tags: Religion, Roy, Memorials, Eckhart Tolle, Ravi Coltrane, Composer Memorial, Contemporary Jazz, Roy Hargrove, Stephen Scott, NewMusicBox, Jazz Trumpeters, Roy Hargrove Rio Sakairi, Yasek Manzano Roy Hargove Rio Sakairi, Tarus Mateen, Greg Hutchinson, Rio Sakairi


What the Optics of New Music Say to Black Composers

It has been more than six months since Helga Davis gave the keynote speech at the 2018 New Music Gathering. After a brief opener, she quoted August Gold—“If you want to know what you want, you have to look at what you have.”—and then proceeded to ask the audience to “look around the room, and see what the composition of [the] room [says] about what we want.” launch gallery Based on her challenge, we can ultimately conclude the following: if attending a music event and the people in the room ...
Tags: Programming, Education, Religion, Articles, Diversity, Advocacy, Commentary, Mozart, Haydn, Georges, Gunther Schuller, Julia Perry, Anthony R Green, Saint Georges, Chaya Czernowin, Marcos Balter


Toward a Music of the Spheres

My summer project: write a piece for solo violin influenced by Bach’s Chaconne in D minor. It’s August and I can finally turn my head to a collaboration with Polish violinist Kinga Augustyn for a concert in mid November. I’d sketched a few phrases after listening to her recording of the Telemann Sonatas—which, by the way, made me a new Telemann fan. And now, I turn my attention to the Bach Chaconne—how great!  But does this fit with my initial sketch? Or how does it fit? Where? What? When? Why? ...
Tags: Religion, Columns, Einstein, Bach, Kinga, Telemann, Baroque Music, NewMusicBox, Composer-performer Collaborations, Hommage, Kinga Augustyn, Debra Kaye