Hello dear reader. This is a blog that's been gestating for a while now. It's a bit too long to put all of it on here, but hopefully the preview I have here will intrigue you enough to click on the title and read the rest of this part on my personal website. Hope you enjoy!
"Starting out in the business, the key issue for me was, 'What does it take to be a filmmaker in Hollywood?' Even today I still wonder, 'What does it take to be a filmmaker, or maybe even an artist, in Hollywood?'...What is the price you pay, to work in Hollywood? Do you end up with a split personality? Do you make one for them, one for yourself?"
This quote comes from the mouth of Martin Scorsese in his landmark documentary "A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies," and though the great director is discussing life as a filmmaker, his words resonate with a truth that applies to any of the arts.
Of course, it's unlikely many artists ask themselves this type of question in the music world, where such a duality isn't quite as blurry, but it's an idea worth exploring. In the realm of new classical and "art music" especially, it's likely the question is posed even less, if only because, even for the most successful composers, the sort of success that comes with Top 40 charts and multi-platinum record sales (though even that's not much of an indicator of success nowadays with the advent of various new media outlets to get your music out with) is unlikely to happen.
That doesn't make the question impertinent to the field of classic and art music, however. We still might ask ourselves how one composer's music gains recognition when ours feels, well, better, or more artistically-minded. Part of this is simple ego- if the other composer's getting attention, why aren't I?- and part of it is simple prejudice. (Their music isn't as good as mine. How are they getting recognition?) Right or not, this is the sort of thinking at the heart of the idea in Scorsese's quote above.
So that said, what does it mean to be a successful composer of new music? All things being subjective, I'm inclined to go with a basic criteria of live performances, recognition from critics and colleagues, and an ever-expanding fan base. This isn't to say that composers who lack these things are "bad" composers- as with film, great success does NOT always equal great artistry (and vice versa, lack of success does not equal lack of artistry). But this can cause a dilemma for the creative spirit within...
For more, click on the title to read the full blog, or go to Sonic Cinema below. Thanks for reading.
Check out Brian's new composition, entitled "Entr'Acte", on Sonic Cinema at the Music page.