February 15, 2009

I’m getting lambasted by some angry bloggers over a post I made the other day about an admissions issue. Clearly, I didn’t express myself very well.

Somehow I gave the impression that our school doesn’t accept MIDI realizations of scores in their applications. For the record, all of our composition faculty use Finale and/or Sibelius and we use the playback feature extensively. Our students use these MIDI playbacks in composition lessons, class, and seminar. We all believe it to be far superior to crashing through an ensemble piece using the piano.

I have used sequencers for years, and now mostly use Logic and ProTools, in fact, my recent entire 3 hour musical was entirely electronic: not a single live musician on the stage — except for the singers.

As a composer I am terribly private while I compose. No, I don’t compose by committee or with others, unless it is a film or a musical where collaboration reigns.

We accept MIDI realizations as applications and have for years.

When students ask why they did not get accepted into a program, our school lets us know that we are not required to offer a reason. The committee’s decision is final. When many students don’t get in because someone just barely inched them out, giving reasons other that “someone was just a little better” is not what they want to hear, but often it is the case. There are many talented composers deserving of college education that just barely get squeezed out.

With the specific student I cited the other day, it wasn’t that I was poo-pooing his choice to submit only MIDI scores, it was that he had had no interaction with musicians at all, in fact seemed to go out of his way to avoid them, which led me to remind him that OFTEN, music is a social art. I confess now that many times it is completely private and antisocial. Nonetheless, I stick to my guns that a great deal is to be learned from real live musicians; for composers to interact and write for real live musicians; for composers to have the experience of a live performance; and to get feedback from both musicians as well as performers. If my angry colleagues still find me hopelessly 20 years out of date, then I’m guilty as charged.

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