CC by Svein Halvor Halvorsen on Flickr

I saw a meme on Facebook a while ago, the one with the fake greeting card and custom text: “‘Yay! It’s the weekend,’ said no composer, ever.” Funny yes, but completely wrong. Bravado aside, if you consistently work “weekends” (meaning, you don’t take planned days off on a weekly basis), your art will suffer.

Composers think they’re being tough by never taking structured breaks and working at any time of day or night. Sometimes they use the excuse that composition doesn’t pay very well to justify this type of constant working attitude. More often, they do it as a part of the mystique of being an artist: you are so driven and inspired that you have no desire to take weekends off, you’d rather be constantly immersed in the creative process.

Unfortunately, every profession makes the same kinds of bullshit excuses, from CEOs to stockpickers. Read on ››

David Pay of Vancouver’s Music on Main asked me to write a composer’s profile of Ana Sokolovic. The article, Ana Sokolovic: Made in Canada (Sort of) is now available. In it, I talk about the national character of Canadian music and how Sokolovic’s approach to composition finds a very Canadian way of dealing with her Serbian musical roots.

Photo CC by Martin Fisch on Flickr

Elissa Milne had an interesting article on her blog the other day about audience building, essentially advancing the claim that you build an audience for new music in the same way you build an audience for anything, be it an opera company or a rock band. This is true, but it doesn’t help most musicians—especially new music musicians. It’s very rare to find a person who both creates appealing new music at a high level and has a knack for marketing and self-promotion. Beating the drum of “learn how to sell your music” is technically correct, but it’s also an unrealistic expectation for the vast majority of new music practitioners. So what’s a more practical solution? Read on ››

Painting of Niccolo Machiavelli

I am currently reading the very interesting 48 Laws of Power, which is sort of an updated version of Machiavelli’s controversial work but with a modern perspective. I started thinking, becoming a world-renowned composer is a process not unlike overthrowing a medieval princedom, so what would Machiavelli’s advice be to young 21st-century composers?

So moral judgment cast aside, a blatantly careerist approach to becoming a composer. And naturally, none of this has anything to do with music. Read on ››

Daft Punk press photo

I’m going to write a few posts that are mini-composition lessons based on non-classical music. Composers study 18th-century counterpoint, serialism, and lots of other classical forms—but what can we learn from the music that the vast majority of people living today actually listen to?

So to start things off, Daft Punk’s “Technologic,” which is very tightly composed and epitomizes a few key principles. Read on ››