Author Archives: DSmey

What is Happening Now VI – Spectralists and Live Electronics

Spectralism refers to a group of composers that study the acoustic properties of sound and incorporate what they learn into their compositional method. For the most part the IRCAM Centre in Paris is the nexus of the spectralist movement, hosting … Continue reading

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What is Happening Now V – Mainstream European-Style Composers

The minimal revolution eventually had an effect on all contemporary music — even the High Modernists like Carter and Boulez were persuaded to mellow out a little bit and compose music that was easier to follow. However, not everyone adopted … Continue reading

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What is Happening Now IV – “Indie Classical”

The Indie Classical generation is basically the wave of American post-minimal composers who are beginning to emerge now. For these guys, the economic landscape is different, even, from what it was for the Bang on a Can composers. On the … Continue reading

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What is Happening Now Part III – The Bang on a Can Composers (+ Andriessen!)

Bang on a Can The Bang on a Can composers are three friends who studied composition at Yale together in the 1980s. Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe are married to each other, and David Lang is the third member of … Continue reading

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What is Happening Now Part II – European Spiritual Minimalism

European Spiritual Minimalism Henryk Górecki (of Poland) and Arvo Pärt (from Estonia) are two European composers who picked up the mantle of minimalism and used it to make works with a decidedly different tone from what was happening in America. … Continue reading

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Special Series: What is Happening Now Part I – Background

It just so happens that every student I am working with this semester has asked me the exact same question – What is happening now in Classical music? I usually respond by giving a vague spiel about “looking for authenticity” … Continue reading

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Back on hiatus :)

Well, my active period didn’t last that long. 5 weeks, I think! I’ll be going dormant again until I can build up some lead time. In the mean time you could look at a conference paper I recently presented in … Continue reading

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Week 13: Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

Minimalism began as a reaction to what I call “High Modernism,” music by composers like Pierre Boulez, Milton Babbitt, and Elliott Carter. In the 50s and 60s, when these guys were at the peak of their influence, there was a … Continue reading

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Week 12: Mozart’s Don Giovanni

Opera was invented at the beginning of the Baroque period, around 1600, but the first flowering of indisputably great works came with Mozart. He composed about a dozen, but there are four that are absolutely crucial: The Marriage of Figaro, … Continue reading

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Week 11: Perotin, Viderunt omnes

Let us now go back towards the beginnings of Western music history. Here’s a quick thumbnail sketch — the music of Ancient Greece and Rome was much written about (Plato famously had some very specific opinions about it) but was … Continue reading

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