Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I switched majors again. I'm still in the School of Music, so this switch isn't quite as radical as the previous one. Nonetheless, it's another change, this time to music education. I think, purely as a degree, a music ed. degree will serve me better. If I chose to make this big, risky jump to music, I might as well have some padding.

Once I have a teaching certificate, I can at the very least get a decent job, and it's not too difficult to get certified in other subjects, as well. With K-12 certification, that leaves a lot of job opportunities. This isn't to say that I'm going to end up as a HS choir director (though that's basically what they are teaching me to do). It is something that I wouldn't mind doing, though, and something that could position me for further musical endeavors.

And so I did a lot of thinking at the beginning of this semester.... It's 3 years into the future... you've graduated college, took a LOT of years to do it... you've got a composition diploma...Great, you are now armed with the completely unmarketable skill of composing avant-garde sonic brain-fuck music that any normal person would probably cringe hearing.

I'm serious in my assessment of the University faculty's music here. I'm not being bitter because they didn't accept me at first and told me I was "unsophisticated" (you can read about that one in the archives). Being completely impartial, I can tell you that the music is not pleasant-sounding. It is not inspiring. It is not evocative. It is a sin against the Music Gods, because it represses all considerations of what one is supposed to feel, think, imagine when hearing music. These professors are interested in music purely as a philosophical, academic exercise. It's all numbers and matrices and pitch classes to them. Sure, they have concerts for an audience occasionally, though the audience is composed of primarily other university composition teachers, and their students, who are graded on the number of "new music" shows they attend.

But I've said enough unsubstantiated things... go listen to their stuff. Click on any one of the faculty members' name at the left of the page. Many of them have sound clips in that sidebar. What do you think of it? I decided that this was not the kind of aesthetic that I would want guiding my compositional development, but you are free to think differently.


Bishai said...

oh man, I totally agree. I think it was during the summer music program at Northwestern, when one of their staff had his piece performed, which included all the kids playing their schools' fight songs at the same time. Modern compositions universally suck.

Kestutis said...

i never like to make universal statements... there is some new stuff out there that is really imaginative. All of it takes requires substantial stretching of our ears before we can even make value judgments about it. I think the public is underexposed to non-tonal music, but I think university academia doesn't really care about an average person's reaction to their music. Both need to change.

Bishai said...

Too-Shay. I should just qualify though, that I'm yet to hear one that I liked. I admit to not making a strong effort to seek out and undertand modern compositions, but I certainly came across them enough at the U of I school of music, and during Hikes Skool. I feel it's a lot like questionable sculpture or painting, where the artist has made "their statement," but it looks like their statement is completely arbitrary and created sans a plan.

Jon Q said...

Hey Kevin Stoots! It's 5:24am and I've been up for three hours studying Music History, decided to take a break, and see what's happening in your life. I say kudos to you for switching to music ed. Composition and Performance degrees, I believe, are for the purists: for composition, the 20th Century music, and performance for the person that does not see him/herself doing anything but classical style music. With a music ed degree, you'll be able to learn instruments, theories, etc. that will make you more marketable. AND you can always still compose and perform, which will make you an even more well-rounded musician than you already are. I would like to add that I used to dislike 20th Century and contemporary compositions. Now, I enjoy engaging myself into concerts that include "Modern Compositions" (which is about every one I go to). Anyway, I'm glad that you're a music major. You made me sad when you told me your senior year you were going to go into English/Journalism. Yay for Kevin Stoots!!