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Alex Shapiro, composer email
Words on Music


The Joys of Musical Schizophrenia  
Alex Shapiro

All music shares a common
history and language,
regardless of genre.

________

       

I'm hoping to see more
connection
between some of
the musical worlds
that often appear
sonically segregated.

________

 

 

Many composers work fluently with a wide variety of musical styles. Just as we don't necessarily eat the same type of food each evening, there are some days in which we're driven to complete our five movement "Concerto Suite for Violin, De-Tuned Ocarina and Three Euphoniums," and then there are days when we're unexpectedly compelled to write a rock ballad or a blues tune, followed by a little musical theater number that just came to mind after we finished up a jazz chart that had been rattling around in our head. Or something like that.

       

We're the same person each time we sit down to compose, but from time to time we hear and create in different idioms. Stylistic diversity shouldn't cause a composer to be taken less seriously in his or her primary field of pursuit. To the contrary, it points to broad interests that are positive influences on a musician's sensibilities.

Even within individual pieces of music, as the distance between countries appears to shrink with new technology, voices and inspirations from other nations filter seamlessly into one's own work. The 21st century has brought with it a global melting pot of sound, with endless choices for composers and players.

 

 

________

As the distance
between countries
appears to shrink
with new technology,
voices and inspirations
from other nations
filter seamlessly into
one's own work.

 
Kelp
 
By presenting an
integrated array of music
within a concert,
composers might reach
a broader base
of potential fans.

________

There's a tendency to pigeonhole composers into easy-to-digest categories: "film composer" or "concert composer" or "world music," "minimalist," etc. Sometimes there's not much overlap between the different musical worlds; the people pursuing pop songwriting or jazz don't usually attend the same events as the folks in what some people call "serious" or "legit" music (a term that's an unintentional insult to those who write "popular" music, and a hilarious misnomer of a lot of the concert music I know, much of which is anything but serious). But all music shares a common history and language, regardless of genre.
       

Especially here in Los Angeles where I live and write, I'm hoping to see more connection between some of the musical worlds that often appear sonically segregated. There's a wealth of great material out there, coming from all sorts of writers. Perhaps audiences would appreciate concerts that offered a mixed bag of music within a single evening's program: a couple of concert chamber music quartets, a couple of jazz quartets, perhaps a song from a new musical or a tune inspired by an African song. And wouldn't it be interesting if some of these diverse pieces were composed by the same person.

 

 

 

 

__________________

Perhaps audiences would appreciate
concerts that offered
a mixed bag of music
within a single evening's program.

 

Holey rock
 

 

________

Here's to a little
musical schizophrenia!

A well chosen balance of music in a variety of styles could be exciting and different. There would be a greater chance that more people would leave the concert at the end of the evening having liked at least one or two things on the program. And this just might make them more interested in coming back the next time.
       

cove pier

By presenting an integrated array of music within a concert, composers might reach a broader base of potential fans— listeners exposed to music that moved them, which they otherwise might not have ventured out to hear. I think it would be terrific to celebrate everyone's musical diversity— that of the composers', and that of our audience. Here's to a little musical schizophrenia!

©2008 Alex Shapiro


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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