“It sounded great….January 31st …being tapped as Visionary of 2020 by the splendid Composers Now organization. 20/20, the symbol of visual excellence… Wow…thought I, feeling enormous gratitude mixed with the question mark of a clear call to look inside and try to identify what this vision thing might be. Now, half a year later we are experiencing a time of pandemic, economic chaos, our very environment melting away, inept leadership, 400-year-old racial work to be done and more … I say “we”….and look inside and ask why do we happen to be alive at this time of major peril… The more pressing question may be: Are we being punished or gifted
with it all?
Either way, as much clarity of vision as possible is being demanded from everyone globally, and even more so from the creative artist. Hmm…Why? And to what extent might composing music help or hinder?
The answer starts with admitting that chaos surrounds us.. Chaos on a level threatening the very survival of our species. And then? But we creatives—certainly composers–are used to chaos. Every proper piece of music begins in silence and then dives into its raw material— chaos. In fact let it be noted that when most of us work best, we routinely seek out chaos. From a pile of a few possible notes (not excluding “noise”) traditionally organized up and down, in and out, and in simultaneity we dare to extract both personal expression and universal meaning. We are challenged (privileged) to create not only endless chains of phrases but also
worlds of experience beyond science fiction out of the same limited number of notes. And we can make bodies move. That’s Wizardry and finally that’s Miracle.. Thus composing itself— disappearing into and finishing a piece of music— is to visit the land of Vision. ALSO…every time we create a new piece, we create a new version of this world. And every time the piece is performed, an audience trusts us with their pre-conceptions of reality, because this new reality includes the chance of a new version of themselves, the audience member, to be born…and a chance for a new experience of pain or joy for composer, listener, and performer.
Thus I feel that we composers are, in a very special way, Priests of this earthly tribe. Being able to make music in original ways is a gift and therefore a spiritual act. And in that act, there is also the inborn drive to find ways to share it, because the tribe, whether they consciously know it or not, needs it from you, and no one else can do it. That “it” is not just making or playing music. That “it” is making music guided by your personal way of seeing/hearing. Our very species grows through these inputs of daring and originality….these fresh ways of expressing… these visions…and has, since homo sapiens evolved out of Africa.
And there is nothing to see/hear except the truth, which includes the “now.” “Truth”? Artistic vision allows us to see (imagine?) things that conventionally are not there…often in the interest of modeling a way a different (better?) world might look, sound, and feel. It can also be employed to create a model world that is terrifying, even hopeless…just for a look-see. But the work itself and the experience of the work is real, true, and now. Art then becomes more than just pretend. It becomes a vehicle of transport to any place the art creator fashions…a space where one may (or a whole community may) for a limited time give up fear itself.
Are you for that? I am. As a composer who creates all kinds of worlds of experience out of sound, I always feel anxious to get going and keep going. Many a listener is also ready. With “beat” or without “beat”, what we create is music for people on the move. The styles? Doesn’t matter. Styles and types are like national languages, dependent upon what rhythms and colors speak to and from a given community at a given time…or like European classical, like American jazz, pop, blues, and such they might even be adopted world-wide as international languages, especially these days when it’s becoming obvious that we’re all in “this” together. Of course all listeners will never like all the aural results. (Mark Twain reputedly wrote, “Wagner’s music is much better than it sounds.”)
Music is more powerful than droplets or aerosol. It is deep-immersive… baptismal…room-filling and highly-contagious. The world is listening. The world is marching beside us. In this year of 2020, millions are moving towards vaccination against fear and towards the contagion of truth. Composers, let’s honor our priestly duty and help– step forward–and bless the air with fresh sound.
Composers, in this year of 2020, let’s all trust our 2020 vision.
Compose fearlessly, and keep it coming.”
– Carman Moore (CRF 2010)