Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

There, I've gone and done it. After having a few friends tell me I should have a blog, I've finally caved, though not without reservations. I've always viewed blogging with a jaundiced eye, and can't help thinking about this as I write my first post. When I think about it, I really only read three music blogs, all kept by experienced, professional writers whose opinions I respect, and who write about issues that are important to me. The most influential has been Kyle Gann's PostClassic, which has had a huge influence on the way I think about music in the last few years, as well as blogs by Alex Ross and Matthew Guerreri. These are some of the people making a real contribution to the discourse on music. What could I possibly add to that? I'm not especially well-read, nor am I omnivorous in my tastes. I really don't like a lot of the music I hear (I've been called a New Music opera queen), nor do I write particularly lucidly about composing.

Nevertheless, here I am, making a stab at adding something to the current. Why? I could try to fool myself into believing that it's my do-or-die thesis year, and getting into the habit of writing prose
regularly will be good exercise. But I know that a blog is just a time suck to avoid the aforementioned thesis – don't worry, more on that later, ad nauseam, I'm sure. I could also say that writing briefly about subjects unrelated to my topic is a way of getting ideas out of my head so they can't distract me anymore, and there would be some truth to that.

But this paean of self-justification comes down to me just needing to share a few thoughts in the hope that they'll resonate. Some of the composers I most admire made invaluable contributions through their writings, and as the publishing of New Music writing seems to be getting thinner and thinner on the ground, it's ever more important that practitioners of the art form put their thoughts out there where others can get to them, whatever their value.

So that's a rather long-winded way of introducing this blog. The title, incidentally, comes from my first orchestra piece, written way back in 2000. It's a quote from one of my teachers, the great Daria Semegen, who was talking about using the simplest possible means of achieving richness and complexity in music. It became sort of a mantra for me, and I think it applies to the type of writing I'm aiming to do here. I'll try to stick to music as much as possible, but along the way I'll inevitably sidetrack into issues that inform my work and the way I think, like Eastern aesthetics and Northern climes. And cooking and wine. Always food and wine. Any suggestions for improvement will be welcomed, and I promise to drop the self-conscious tone with my first substantive post.

Welcome all!

1 comment:

Kyle Gann said...

Matthew, thanks for the lovely mention. I'll start checking in and reading. The Debussy story was very interesting. Didn't realize you live in Finland.