Community-Normed (2008)

  • Instrumentation: flt, clar, pno, perc, vln, vc
  • Duration: 16’00
  • Performers: Continuum Ensemble, conductor: Gregory Oh
  • Commissioned by the Continuum Ensemble

Program Notes

Only a small part of music is actually about sound. The majority of music-making has to do with social interactions more than anything else. Music fulfills certain functions (usually pre-determined) within certain social situations, or serves as a replacement for various social functions when we use it in private. Therefore, music can be said to be a community-normed phenomenon: what makes music music are the people who find a use for it, usually by listening.

On top of that, the most useful (or best) pieces of music are generally those for which there is the most consensus on usage: Beethoven’s ninth symphony and Michale Jackson’s album, Thriller are both “good” because a lot of people agree that they are good; i.e., a lot of people have found those two pieces of music useful for certain social functions.

Anyway, these were some of the thoughts running through my head while writing this piece, and they influenced my choice and usage of musical materials.