Whenever I introduce myself as a "composer", there are only a few logical follow-up questions. "What kind of music do you write?" OR "How does that work exactly? How do you make money?" Despite the difficulty of self-definition (and limitation), I much prefer the former question. That is, however, until I realize that most people have no point of reference to contemporary music.
In an ideal world, this is how I would go about describing my "style":
Me: "My music sounds something like Bang on a Can covering Radiohead."
- "Bang on a Can?"
Me: - "Ok, do you know Arvo Pärt
? My music is like Arvo Pärt remixed.
- "Arvo who?"
Me: - "Ok, do you know Philip Glass?"
- "Oh, yeah, I think so."
Me: - "You think so? How about Steve Reich?"
- "No, sorry"
Me: "John Adams?"
- "The President?"
Me: "So what do you do?
It's a little disheartening how little people know about the most famous contemporary composers. And these are composers who write generally pleasant, accessible music. Notice I didn't ask about Lachenmann
But I think most people could find a place in their lives for Arvo Pärt (pronounced like Pare with a T). Not unlike Gorecki
, Pärt's music achieves transcendent beauty through slow-moving, simple lines flowing through various states of consonance and dissonance. He started off writing more aggressive modernist music but, after an artistic crisis, began writing in a more mystical vein of minimalism
. He invented a composition technique, dubbed "tintinnabuli", in which a stepwise voice moves against a voice outlining a triad or chord.
"Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers - in my life, my music, my work."
Listen to his music on Grooveshark.
Björk: "You give space to the listener."
A look into the mind through the fingers of Arvo Pärt himself.