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Alex Shapiro, composer email
Words on Music


 Musicians and Audiences, Present and Future  
 

The difference between composing solely
for one's own catharsis
versus composing to communicate with others
is similar to that of writing a personal diary
as opposed to a published essay.

________

 

Alex Shapiro

       

Both a personal diary and a public essay are important forms of expression, but one is an unfiltered emotional output usually meant only for the writer, and the other is a work intended to be read and interpreted by others. My approach to my music is that if I expect an audience to listen to it, then I often think in terms of what will communicate to them, as well as to myself, while I'm creating it.

Sometimes,
external awareness
can make us even
better communicators.

________

 

 

       

________

If composers want to
attract audiences
for our music,
then we must
earn the interest
of our listeners.

We are all mammals with regular heartbeats and a physical connection to the harmonic overtone series; we respond on a very deep level to pulse and melody. I don't feel that either must be abandoned in the quest for a unique voice, and so I do my best to write contemporary music that is dynamic, passionate and intended for others to grasp.

       

Does this mean that I've condemned my pencil to nothing other than simplistic drivel? I hope not! Composers don't necessarily need to compromise their artistic vision if they choose to take the experience of the listeners into some consideration. Sometimes, in fact, such external awareness can make us even better communicators.

Malibu creek
       

If composers want to attract audiences for our music, indeed, if we wish to remain relevant to the public, then it is my opinion that we must earn the interest of our listeners. Just because we know that art music is important and enriching doesn't mean that others will automatically flock to hear our work; too often, the opposite appears to be the case.


It helps to give audiences a personal connection with the musicians and the stories behind the pieces. Creating an affinity between the people on one side of the music stands and those on the other makes it more likely that the latter will enjoy themselves and want to return for more. That's why this website includes a number of photos of me and vivid descriptions of my pieces— not vanity, but a desire to connect with my colleagues and with my audience.

Composers don't
necessarily need to
compromise their
artistic vision
if they choose to take
the experience of
the listeners
into consideration.

________

 

 

 

 

 
Black tegulas
 

Who will buy
the concert tickets
twenty years
from now?

________

 

 

 

 

 

Musicians and composers must do everything they can to reach people— to talk to them before and after concerts (and during them), and to bring our performances into inviting, relaxing spaces. We must take an active role in attracting new listeners and advocates.

In the world of MTV and computers, few inexperienced concert goers are particularly comfortable having to sit absolutely still while having music performed at them. When I attend a rock or jazz concert, my body moves, and in those venues that's considered an appropriate response. Why is it that suddenly once we delineate a style of music as being "serious," "legit" or "classical," all that sensual freedom disappears? Considering who the next decade's potential concert goers are, it might be worth looking at new ways to present art music, even if that means departing from traditional norms.

       

We should give audiences
a personal connection
with the musicians
and the stories
behind the pieces.

in the tube

In the wake of uncertain funding for art and music education in many American elementary and high schools, composers and musicians face a challenge. If children aren't exposed to the wonders of concert music in either their homes or their schools, and if they're not taught by example about the importance of supporting the arts, who will buy the concert tickets twenty years from now? How will the next generation ever know about the joys of musical expression if they're not offered a meaningful connection with it when they're very young?

       

We must all raise our voices to school boards as well as to local, state and national government agencies. We must remind the people behind these entities that the real value of a civilization is not its technology or its efficiency, but the legacy of its art which reveals the souls of its citizens. Those of us who contribute to this legacy with new musical offerings must also work to protect it by fostering our society's understanding of creative arts.

When someone can relate to the joy of what an artist does because they too have had a special bond with such an experience, then that magic triangle created between the composer, the musicians and the listener is truly complete. If these topics interest you, a gifted colleague named John Steinmetz has written a marvelous essay worth reading: Resuscitating Art Music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

________

How will the next generation
know about the joys
of musical expression
if they're not offered a
meaningful connection with it
when they're very young?

 
Coralline Algae
 

I think it's important to know something about the people behind the music we hear; a sense of who a composer is as a person often gives us a stronger, more personal connection with their work. That's why I've put the time into creating this website. So, peruse the rest of these pages, read about and listen to some pieces, and feel free to drop me an email; I'm always interested in other people's ideas.

The real value of a civilization
is not its technology
or its efficiency
but the legacy of its art
which reveals
the souls of its citizens.

________

 


Want some more? Along with photos and music?

blog link

Since 2006, Alex has published a personal, pixelsonic blog called Notes from the Kelp, that has developed a following of thousands of readers each month. She pairs snapshots from her daily life by the sea with audio clips of fitting pieces of her music, and welcomes comments. It's Alex's contribution to virtual tourism! Join her in Kelpville, and see where her music really comes from. Enter another world, here blog


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Alex Shapiro


Alex Shapiro, composer email2
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