Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Q&A with Composer Adam Scott Neal

1) Name five influences

The Beatles, John Cage, Claude Debussy, Pink Floyd, and Anton Webern. There are so many others, but these are definitely in the top 10.

2) What are you currently working on? What can we expect to hear from you?

I am working on a lot of things this summer. I am gradually switching to Linux (Ubuntu mainly), so I am learning how to use some great open source programs such as Ardour and MuseScore. I just got The SuperCollider book and am delving further into that. Music-wise, I am revising some pieces, including a generative spectralist piece in SuperCollider featuring synthesized bells and a piece for quarter-tone alto flute and fixed media. If I have time I want to revise a sax
quartet I wrote last fall as well.

3) What's good about the Atlanta music scene? Or, why do you live and/or work here?

The best parts about the Atlanta music scene is that it's small enough to break in and that it's very friendly. After living in the New York City area for two years, I can say that it's nice that our city doesn't really have the cliques and barriers that other cities have.

I am a native, but basically (for four years) expat Atlantan. However, I really believe that Atlanta is ripe for an active alt-classical scene and do what I can to help promote it. There are a few venues that focus on other genres but are friendly to the idea of classical and experimental music, and in my experience, people are more receptive to different genres than one might expect. We have a small core group of people who play out often, and I hope this will
grow. Even though I live in Florida, I like to come up and put on shows in Atlanta. There is an audience here; we just need more musicians to be active about promoting their music, and alt-classical music in general.

4) What is the biggest challenge you face as an Atlanta composer and how do you address it?

The biggest challenge is putting on shows and maintaining an audience. As I said, there are a handful of venues friendly to alt-classical/experimental music, but I understand that they have to pay the bills and won't be as friendly if turnouts are small. Atlanta's size makes for a strange dynamic – small enough to make things happen, but large enough that there can sometimes be too many entertainment/cultural options for your audience. Since playing classical music in bars (as I like to do) is a fairly new idea for a lot of people, they may not think of it as an option for their evening.

5) Who in the local scene would you like to collaborate with and why?

Of course, any musicians who are interested in playing my music! But I am also very keen on collaborating with artists in other fields – visual arts, film, dance. I'd love to work on an experimental show of some sort with the Center for Puppetry Arts.

6) What instrument(s) haven't you written for that you would like to write for?

I recently saw two calls for toy piano compositions, so I listened to some contemporary toy piano works and really loved the sound. Yet another piece for the summer may be for toy piano!

7) How does technology play a role in your work?

It plays many roles. I have written a lot of fixed media works, as well as some live electronic pieces. My Master's thesis included five pieces for laptop quartet (Max/MSP pieces). This year I started an improv group – FLIP – and so far we've been primarily improvising with our laptops. I have made a few pieces involving the Arduino circuit board and plan to explore that further.

I also use technology in my acoustic pieces. A few pieces have used some probabilistic processes to generate material. For the piece I just finished, Etude in Metal for solo percussion, I analyzed the frequency spectrum of my percussionist's gongs, and used the harmonics of his gongs to create the pitch material for the glockenspiel part.

8) When and where is your next performance?

My next performance will be on Saturday, June 11 in Gainesville, FL. I will be doing a solo improv set as part of Hal McGee's Apartment Music series. It will be streaming online here:

9) Where can we find you online?

My website is I am also on Twitter, Blogspot, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, CDBaby, and YouTube under "adamscottneal."

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