07. May 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Kyle Gann has another blog entry I found very interesting. Another blogger wrote in response to Mr. Gann’s earlier remarks about dynamics and all. The writer says that we musicians like a bit of instruction when it comes to performance of a work. I do agree with that. He also says that not giving us dynamics means we spend a lot of time figuring it out. This one I’d disagree with I think. If a composer doesn’t give me markings, I assuming he or she wants it “plain” … one dynamic … for some reason.I would also ask the conductor what might be wanted, although I would hope a conductor would tell me by his or her conducting.

Mr. Gann suggest that these composers would want us to make our own decisions. If that is the case (and this is fine by me) I would hope that the composer would notate this. That isn’t so hard to do, is it? We follow instructions. Giving us no instructions doesn’t tell us to make up our own. It’s just the way we’ve been trained. We are, however, quite capable of making decisions and creating our own instructions. Please, just let us know!

Mr. Gann also writes:

[I might also note the classical/orchestral assumption embedded in my respondent’s comment that “So leaving it all out just ends up wasting time later…” – that the rehearsal of music should be a quick, efficient process, and that taking the extra energy to try out different interpretations is a waste of time. This is why a lot of composers won’t bother writing for orchestra.]

Is this really a reason composers won’t bother writing for orchestras? I had never heard this before. I’ve heard 1) the music won’t ever get played 2) the composer will never get paid 3) the audience shows no interest in contemporary music so orchestras won’t play the stuff. But I hadn’t heard that it’s because we won’t expend energy to play the works.

The other thing I think of regarding contemporary music and composers; any time I’ve worked on a new piece with the composer present he or she has had tons to say about how we played and, in many cases, even had a difficult time letting go and letting the conductor and the musicians do our part.

I’m not saying Mr. Gann is incorrect. I can only speak from my experience, and I don’t play in many groups.

I will be doing a new work next week. It’ll be interesting, now, to see how the composer works with us and how much we get to determine about the music.
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