Sanity for New Music

It will come as no surprise that composers are not entirely sane. A little insanity goes right along with rebelliousness and bold innovation. And while some creative insanity should be cherished, there is at least one reason that we composers could use a little therapy (or at least a little perspective from a friend posing as a therapist online).

Hey composers, slow down!

A basic formula that every armchair psychiatrist prescribes involves helping a patient work through past experiences in order to grow and maintain mental health. Fundamentally, you achieve your fullest potential when you have properly dealt with your most important, formative experiences. As a body of music lovers and creators, today, we need to process the insane whirlwind of musical development that blew past us in the twentieth century. In the span of just 65 years we experimented with Impressionism, Post/12-Tonality, Expressionism, Neo-Classicism, Jazz, early Minimalism, and myriads of Ethnomusicology wormholes. To put this into perspective, we gave ourselves the same 65-years to deal with just the very first innovations of the Baroque era alone. This gave us time to healthfully process the tonal system, innovations, and stylistic varieties of this musical sensibility, and it gave composers time to fully internalize these developments. We then allowed ourselves another several decades to fully refine and play with these ideas.

What’s next in New Music? Where do we go from here? I think it’s time for this generation of composers to mature, slow down, and more fully develop the hundreds of ideas and innovations we have sparked (and too quickly abandoned) over the past hundred years.

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