"...to enter you needed to take a sugar pill with a dot on it...and you rolled the dice, cause 1/3 of the dots were LSD..."I had never heard of Coleman before, but this description made my jaw drop just enough to bookmark the reference.
Today I ran across a YouTube video of composer Clint McCallum, that's him on the gun. Some of the things he said made my jaw drop just enough to want to share them here on Mixed Meters. Turns out that McCallum is a student of Randy Coleman. Now I've heard of Randy Coleman twice.
McCallum, clad in black cowboy hat and black t-shirt with the word "Death" on it, is describing his composition for soprano saxophone and piano. The piece is called "In a Hall of Mirrors Waiting to Die." (ah, the t-shirt does make sense) and it will be performed Monday night, January 11, 2010, at the venerable Monday Evening Concerts, a Los Angeles institution which has somehow survived until its seventieth season or so.
Here are Mr. McCallum's words:
I come from a tradition of avant garde academic composition and so a lot of techniques and a lot of ideas that have inspired me are very heady, very philosophical and very technical. But, there's also a side of my music that's just plain stupid.
He has to hold the same note which is very high at the very top of the range and very loud for a very long time. That adds a whole sense of anticipation for the whole piece. For one, you're wondering, okay, how long can this guy possibly hold this. You see his face get red, he seems to be in pain. On top of that, you're sort of in pain. I mean, it's loud and it's incessant and it won't stop.
By the time things change in the piece, we as listeners kind of are half deafened by this note.
My music, and particularly this piece, I think this is a good example of this, takes tropes of art music. I mean it's written for a concert hall, it's written for a concert audience, and that situation. The way it's written and the way it's performed, over the course of the piece, takes it outside of that. And gets to something that is more visceral but also just more physical and seems maybe not so much concert music anymore. I'm not going to say it's rock music, but there's something there that is breaking down that third wall.
It's not important to me whether the audience enjoys my music or not. But that is purely for the reason that as a listener I have found the most meaning in music comes from music that has challenged me, that has challenged my sense of self and my self of aesthetics. And if musicians had worried too much about whether I was going to enjoy the music they were playing for me, I never would have had these experiences where music literally changed me, where it literally changed my life.
So I have to approach music the same way because I do want my music to change lives.
This particular MEC concert is called Mostly Californian. The title perplexes me because three out of the five composers are very recent transplants to California, while the others, Anton Webern and Milton Babbitt, have no known relationship to the Pacific coast. Still, MEC is to be commended for even this small attempt at showcasing local talent.
Clint McCallum's home page. When he talks about the "third wall", I suspect he means this. The picture of him on the gun barrel comes from his MySpace page. The picture of the baby on the gun barrel sculpture comes from here via here.
Other MM references to MEC:
In Which David Says Good Riddance to Bad Acoustics
30 Second Spots - The Medallion (sorry, the mp3 of The Medallion is not available. If anyone cares, I'd be happy to repost it. This post prompted my Musical Manifesto)
MEC Tags: Clint McCallum. . . Monday Evening Concert. . . California composers