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Why doesn't the contemporary music community support the fellow contemporary music community?


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Let's be honest, the music community has a big problem, it lacks major support. Concert halls don't want to play music by contemporary composers because they don't sale tickets. In fact, I posit that the only reason they do, on occasion, hold a contemporary music festival or perform a contemporary piece is so that the said organization can say they are doing their part to "keep music going into the next century" something or another. Even worse, though, is that the contemporary music community, composers and performers (theorists and historians are sort of in a different category in my mind) don't help with the problem.  An example:

Composers talk a big game about supporting the community, but it's all inherently selfish support. It's rare for a composer to actually get out there and support the community. I'll give two examples. When I created the Applause New Music Festival, I made it about as accessible as possible for people to attend. All of the concerts were free, where in convenient areas of town (easy to find churches, theater buildings, colleges, and contemporary art museums), and most importantly surrounded by at least five, FIVE! colleges that had robust music programs -- Texas Cristian University, U. of North Texas (a very well known college for composers and performers), Southern Methodist Univ. among others, all of these colleges were within 45 minutes of the performances hall at a given time.

These concerts were made fully to support the new music scene. All the music was by living composers, many works even commissioned! All works were dated no older than 15 years and performers were all up and coming/highly  professional groups and/or soloists dedicated to performing new music (Unheard of//Ensemble, Gregory Oakes, Vive! Ensemble, John Solomons, etc). These were serious concerts outside of the academic context that is what the new music world talks about all the time needing to happen! Or so I thought...

 I can only recall one time when musicians from these schools attended a concert and that was when one of performers I invited to perform new works (a great clarinetist by the name of Gregory Oakes -- look him up, he is fantastic) happen to do a masterclass at one of the Universities. Three clarinetists came to hear him perform.  Otherwise, NOT ONE TIME did a composer or performer come to the concert, unless his/her piece was being performed of course. Concert attendance ranged between 5 - 40 people. Okay, you may say, 40 people! that's huge for a new music concert! But this one made mostly of family members and church friends doing me a favor and supporting, not musicians. 

Actually, it was quite sad that more church members and family members attended a free concert that was meant to push meant to do exactly what composers and performers always b*tch and moan about what's wrong with the music scene. These people didn't come to listen to Bach or Beethoven and they knew it was going to weird or different, but they actually came and opened their ears to give it a chance. You know who didn't come? The music community. 

Now tell me this, if composers and performers won't even show up to new music concerts, why do we expect people who don't typically listen to new music to show up. Audiences notice who is there and who isn't. It's quite telling to them when they come to a new music concert and don't see any musicians or composers in attendance. I mean, if musicians don't even want to go -- why would anyone else wanna come for that matter?

How can this be fixed?

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I'm not sure it can be, unfortunately. Composers like me, whose work is based off of previous composers to the point where those composers become the roots of the tree might have a better chance out there than those who are explicitly doing something new. That's to be expected. But for your general point, I'm not sure it can be fixed.

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I think this is more the fault of a change in venue than in contemporary composers not being interested in their fellow composers work.  With readily available and decently high quality renditions being produced by many composers, the need for concertizing has fallen to record lows.  The only reason to get something performed live is to record it and preserve that performance for posterity.  People don't see as much need to go out and listen to new compositions for these reasons.  Plus they have much more of a choice over what they want to hear - the whole internet is at our fingertips and includes the very new music you're claiming is only available through new music concerts.

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It's hard to speak to this without having been on the scene to see how things were marketed, but I work in the art world as well as the music world, and starting anything is always a real struggle.  You have to expect it to take 3, 5, 10 years for an annual event to really take off.  You have to plan to spend money on advertising and venue, and paying staff to organize everything and not let your heart break when the first few years are really sparsely attended.  

I just sold work at my town's brand new summer arts festival last weekend.  They made a huge effort to make it worth my while to be there, because it was the first year they've tried to do this, and they knew that attendance wouldn't be great, so they provided tents and chairs to save all the artists having to set up their own, and there was free parking for artists and attendees all day, and volunteers to help you set up and pack up and to watch your work while you ran to the bathroom... and instead of charging artists a booth fee for the privilege of selling our work, the city actually paid a stipend to thank us for taking a gamble on a brand new event when we could have been somewhere else at an established event making money.  

So you may not have actually had a "musicians don't support new music" problem.  You may have had a "this is a new event" problem.  The fact that three clarinetists came from the school where someone just did a masterclass is typical.  You need to find ways to create interpersonal connections like that to get butts in seats for any event, but particularly for a brand new event.  Give each participating musician a fistful of free tickets to give away.  Ask them what else is on their schedule for the weeks and months before the event and YOU go to THEIR events, (and deputize your planning committee members to do the same) just so you can stand up in the back of the room when the presenter asks if there are any questions and say that you just love clarinetist x, and wanted to be sure that everyone knows they will be performing again at New Music Fest next month and you'll be in the lobby with tickets later.  Talk to the music departments at the surrounding universities and ask if they would like to assign extra credit points to any student who attends your event.  Offer to set up a car-pool to and from the event.  

And remember that working musicians have lots of events to go to, because they are participating in events.  I don't go to a lot of concerts because I'm busy being in the concert.  I don't go to a lot of art shows because I'm busy being in the art shows.  My weekends and evenings are booked between events I'm participating in and rehearsals.  I have... no... time.  Don't expect musicians to be the bulk of your ticket sales.  You need to market your event to the general public.  Pop music constantly churns out new songs and people are very excited about it.  Pop music also has a massive well-tested marketing engine behind it.  It's all marketing.  

 

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3 hours ago, Morgri said:

Audiences notice who is there and who isn't. It's quite telling to them when they come to a new music concert and don't see any musicians or composers in attendance. I mean, if musicians don't even want to go -- why would anyone else wanna come for that matter?

As usual, not that I try to but it usually just shakes out this way, I'm gonna have the opinion that induces the most rage.

So before we begin

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Okay let's do this.

Firstly, I'm not actually certain that what you describe — composers and musicians not showing up to concerts — really matters. Actually, I would say it's often better if they don't.

I, for one, don't actually make music for musicians to listen to; I just want normal people to like it and listen to it. But I find getting musicians to listen to new music is no problem. On these forums or whatever, I can usually expect to get a few dozen plays or something. On YouTube, some of my tracks wound up getting into the recommended feeds of normies and skyrocketed to tens of thousands of plays and hundreds of likes. 

I am always glad when musicians, especially ones much better than I am support what I do and like it, but it means a lot more to me when the average person, who just got off their boring, soul-crushing 9-5, stumbled upon my music, thought it was freaking awesome, and shared it with their friends because it brightened their day that much. Maybe, it even inspired them to get into composing themselves and that's even better. Then, a beginner reaches out to me via forums, email, IRL, whatever and is asking me for advice on their own stuff and how to do something. That's also humbling and good and it's actually gotten to be a bit too much this past year (which is why I'm making some online courses and prob gonna offer some skype lessons soon) too keep up with.

All of that, in my opinion, is far better than musicians showing up.

I played in rock bands and let me tell you something: The brutal reality of 99% of live music today falls under two categories

• It totally sucks. Standards are very low. I can't tell you how many years it took before I could get to jam with a band that could actually play IN TIME with each other and would show up. I played alongside a lot of bands that just friggin' sucked, dude. They played way too loudly, too much distortion, singer couldn't sing, out of time, etc. Then, after the show they'd come up to us and be like "Hey, you guys were awesome, man!" and we'd say "Thank you" and then were always like waiting for us to say they were great too and looked disappointed when it didn't happen.

It's like, well bro...I'm not gonna lie to your face and say you were amazing when you clearly bungled the song, don't know how to write a coherent piece, and couldn't even play in time with each other. If someone came up to us and said "Hey, you guys kinda sucked tonight", we were willing to be like "Yeah, it wasn't as good as it should have been".

Most musicians don't have that kind of self-reflection, so what happened at virtually all of these shows, is that the "audience" was 100% "musicians". Just guys in bands that suck as bad as 9/10 of the other bands. It's a total echo chamber and "trophy-for-everyone" fest.

People don't come because the bands aren't worth seeing.

• Like with art galleries, there are many talented people out there.

They don't get promoted though. If you have some sort of social justice message to sell, you can just literally tape a banana to a wall and they'll promote the crap out of it for purely political reasons.

The guy who can actually sculpt, compose, paint, etc? Nope. Not interested. 

The industry is full of gatekeepers/politicians.

This then harms the actually-good composers when they do get promoted, because most people just assume it's more modern-art garbage.

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Now I will say, I'm not entirely sure what it's like in local orchestral or chamber music "scenes" as per point 1, but I know it's true for point 2.

The local orchestras near me almost never play anything by new composers and the few times they seemingly have, it was pretty much not even advertised so I never would've known about it anyway.

Last point

• You have a niche category of music 

Most people today, including musicians, outside of a film/game context, do not have any interest in orchestral music.

Even I can honestly say I don't feel compelled to go watch a string quartet + winds duo.

People want to have fun at concerts as much as they do hear the music. People want to dance, they want lights, they stage antics and performance, they want the social aspects of it as well as the music. Sitting silently in a cathedral or hall to listen to a cellist saw away might sound nice and have a nice atmosphere to it, but it's just not something most people are going to make an afternoon/evening out of, or certainly pay for, when there are (at least pre-2020) so many other more-fun things they can be doing.

Historically, the orchestra was generally the music of rich people and to a lesser extent, churches. For the peasants, the unwashed masses, the normal people — the fiddler on the street or at your spring festival and drums is what they know as music and they'd have much rather been doing that than going to sit quietly in church and listen to a choir sing ANY piece old or new.

In other words? Musicians aren't showing up to local concerts? Good. &*#@ 'em. If it's mostly musicians showing up, it means that the music is pretty bad. If you have like 40 normal people who just want to listen to music showing up to an orchestral/chamber music concert in 2021? You're doing very well, I'd say.

 

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw
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In answering the opening question it surprises me a little. Contemporary music is more a fashion among a fringe minority than a means of communicating self-expression. Like punk attire, it should bring like people together but doesn't seem to. It also provides a bunch of business people in education a money spinner in college courses - teaching new jargon and inventing new aural languages that no one beyond the composer could interpret. Perhaps because an innovative pop fashion is essentially social whereas composing is a self-centred activity erring on the side of anti-social.

Too often these contemporary student composers just slap things down on paper or into the daw without ever knowing what they're doing. I witnessed it during my brief spell at college: an evening of trying things out. A piece would be played by an ensemble after which the conductor would ask the composer if that was ok. The composer would say thankyou, yes, fine. Whereupon the conductor would say "Well, it wasn't what you wrote! The oboe missed the entry in bar (whatever) and the viola came in a bar late...." etc. Not that every student was so naive - but it also happened at a summer school (Dartington) I attended.

So one questions - what is this music for since its communicative capacity is severely limited? I was berated once for suggesting that an audience could be replaced by a stereo pair of mics to do the listening. 

But I suppose there are folk who are happy just to listen with no expectations. And there are the fashion groupies who attend because they need to be seen to be in the scene - nothing to do with the intellectual or cerebral 'qualities' of the aural presentation. 

I have a college professor acquaintance who feels much the same. As he's often said one can't teach creativity so teaching composition is just a job,  slightly better paid than a supermarket shelf filler. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

Most people today, including musicians, outside of a film/game context, do not have any interest in orchestral music.

I invite you to take a look at this quote here from a market report excerpt (I'm doing a bit of research right now, due to some of my current ambitions being in this industry myself).

Quote

The increasing number of live concerts and music events, due to the growing number of musicians, is driving the growth of the global music composing software market. Another major factor behind this is the increasing initiatives of organizations, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), to promote musicians, by organizing live concerts, music contests, and conferences. According to Bachtrack Ltd., a London-based international online music magazine, 20,535 classical music concerts were performed in 2019. In addition, listed performances stood at 34,648, which also included opera and dance. With such an increasing number of live music performances, the demand for music composing software is expected to rise in the coming years.

The demand for composition software according to this market report is also increasing tremendously.  We are a part of an underserved community, although there is hidden demand for it.  As for people not showing up for events, that is for sure a marketing / money issue.  Marketing is a very difficult thing to do, as I am trying to do this now for one of my initiatives.  But it is very costly, risky and time consuming.  So I can tell you, that there is demand.  But, we are underserved and underrepresented.

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Some very insightful thoughts have been shared here already. For the vast majority, music is not engaging out of context. It has to be connected to a cause, a social experience, a good memory, an enjoyable event, or something else directly relatable and meaningful to the person. People without musical background will routinely describe music and identify with it by those terms - "that would be great for meditating in yoga class," "I could really see that being used at the start of a church service as the procession is coming in," or maybe "oh, that would be great in a horror film when the axe murderer's about to jump out from behind the curtain like in that one movie I saw with my friends and we all, like, got freaked out and it was so fun lolololol!" It is for this reason that most people don't want to attend classical music events but will line up for days beforehand or pay scalper prices to attend popular music events. It isn't because the music itself is better or more entertaining per se - it's because of all the other things connected to the show that make it desirable to be in attendance. It's the same with sporting events. If there was no alcohol and you had to sit quietly and just watch, do you really think that people would show up by the thousands for every game? If there was no intense visual stimulation, would popular music and sporting events be as popular as they are? I'm reminded of this Simpsons scene (around the 30 second mark). The simple answer is no.

We often expect that professional musicians are going to be somehow different from the general population, but we are driven by the same impulses. The only real difference is that we can generally find meaning just in listening to the music provided it aligns with our musical preferences. Thus, we don't always need an external context to provide meaning (something which I didn't realize is so rare when I was younger). The sound itself is enough. But if the music doesn't align with our personal tastes, the ability to find that meaning or enjoyment is lost, and listening to it becomes just as tedious as it would be to someone in the general public. Be honest with yourself: if you can determine (as most of us can) within the first 30 seconds that a piece posted here doesn't align with your musical preferences and it's longer than 5 minutes, have you ever listened all the way through? More than once? Do you really care how well-written or artistically valuable it may be? Do you feel compelled to praise it with something more than a back-handed compliment? Would you choose to play it yourself or pay money to go to an event in which that piece was featured? Would you even go if it were offered for free? Nothing is really free. Even if you aren't paying to attend a concert, you're spending your time, and if you get nothing out of the experience, why would choose to do that if there isn't an extra-musical factor driving the decision?

I have a little anecdote to share regarding my 2018 recital, the first I'd done which was entirely comprised of my own works. After it ended, some people came up to talk to me, and one conversation in particular stands out. A lady with a musical background approached, and after the obligatory "thank you for sharing your pieces" comment in regards to my piano preludes, she asked me who had written "that stunning trio in the second half." There was no printed program, and evidently she hadn't realized that I was the only composer in the program. When I told her it was me it was perfectly clear through her reaction that she thought I was joking. She asked again - and I confirmed again that I had written it. The shock was obvious. Clearly this educated, musical person - sadly like so many educated, musical people nowadays - did not believe that a genuinely moving work could have been written by a living art music composer. It got me thinking - why is this so difficult to believe? (This is where I'm sure I'm going to start ruffling some feathers here.)

The reason it's hard to believe is that for the better part of a century now, art music composers have been writing music which, frankly, fails to entertain or provide any sense of meaning to the vast majority of the population, including even people with significant musical backgrounds. It's almost like a cult - those who take their art to the university level have it drilled into them for years that they must promote new music and include it in their programs. They're told that new music must be "fresh" and "break new grounds." Consequently an awful lot of professional musicians perform or compose this music solely out of a sense of obligation or duty. They pay lip service to the importance of this type of music, but secretly, most of them don't actually like it - something that is easy to recognize when you notice that most of them are regularly in attendance for performances of works of the past but rarely show up for contemporary-only events.

Like Quinn, I'm a bit surprised that this topic even came up. If you genuinely like contemporary art music and would choose to listen to it or even pay to do so, certainly you must understand that you are part of a very tiny minority. If you like and promote older styles of art music, you are part of a slightly larger but still tiny minority. But does it really matter? Personally, I'd rather have ten people come to my recital because they genuinely want to hear my music than 10 000 who are mainly coming for the intoxicants, socializing, and light show. If you're interested in commercial success, you need to adjust what you offer to what people want to hear. That's never going to be contemporary art music.

 

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8 hours ago, chopin said:

So I can tell you, that there is demand.  But, we are underserved and underrepresented.

There is a market for everything, but my post wasn't about whether or not the market merely exists; it's about comparative demand.

I'm not sure if your excerpt is referring to America, UK or the world, but let's go with the assumption for now it's UK

According to statista, in 2019, there were 34 million concert goers with 5 million of that being at Festivals.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/282032/music-concert-and-festival-attendance-in-the-uk-by-attendee-type/

It does not sort these by genre, but by googling what the most popular music festivals and concerts in the UK are...well, aside from BBC Proms, none of them seem to have orchestras. So I think it's a safe bet that the lion's share of those 34 million concert goers are going to popular genres and not piling into the ~54k classical/opera performances.

1 hour ago, pianist_1981 said:

The reason it's hard to believe is that for the better part of a century now, art music composers have been writing music which, frankly, fails to entertain or provide any sense of meaning to the vast majority of the population, including even people with significant musical backgrounds. It's almost like a cult - those who take their art to the university level have it drilled into them for years that they must promote new music and include it in their programs. They're told that new music must be "fresh" and "break new grounds." Consequently an awful lot of professional musicians perform or compose this music solely out of a sense of obligation or duty. They pay lip service to the importance of this type of music, but secretly, most of them don't actually like it - something that is easy to recognize when you notice that most of them are regularly in attendance for performances of works of the past but rarely show up for contemporary-only events.

Yep

This goes back to what I've said many times on this (and others) site. A lot of orchestral music from the 20th Century (actually a bit before but whatever) doesn't appeal to people for the simple reason that it sucks; orchestral noise that is allegedly supposed to "mean" something and although musical quality is allegedly subjective, we're apparently supposed to be able to extract objective "meaning" from this piece even though even the academics who shill it can't agree on what it all "means'.

Video game soundtracks have been credited with saving the symphony orchestra

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-video-games-are-saving-symphony-orchestras-and-filling-concert-halls/

The reason why is that a great deal of these scores are reminiscent of the Romantic Era. They are coherent and probably most importantly: Have an actual tune that people can remember and it's tonal. Not some weird, Schoenberg atonal, serialism nonsense.

The biggest thing that the schools (the modernists) destroyed in the public conscious was the fact that the purpose of art is to be beautiful, culturally-affirmative and where things like music are concerned — entertaining. So now, a lot of people say they just don't "get" art; they've been successfully separated from their own culture (the ultimate goal of modernism) and apathetic toward it because the super-culture is now garbage and now, no one who is making anything still good is promoted.

People like the Legend of Zelda theme for the same reason they like Mozart, Tchaikovsky or Beethoven's 5th: It sounds great and is fun to listen to. The melodies, the wind flourishes, the fanfares, etc. are exhilarating to listen to, memorable, nostalgic, and uplifting. Literally no one (sane) is sitting their analyzing it for some sort of propaganda message; they're just in awe of it and completely immersed.

But outside of the game industry, composers still writing that kind of music don't really get a lot of promotion, like I said.

Even if they do, and there are still some great new composers getting a platform at least at some of these concerts, the point remains that even if the music is great, most people would still take the music festival/rock concert over the string quartet.

 

 

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1 hour ago, pianist_1981 said:

 

 

Like Quinn, I'm a bit surprised that this topic even came up. If you genuinely like contemporary art music and would choose to listen to it or even pay to do so, certainly you must understand that you are part of a very tiny minority. If you like and promote older styles of art music, you are part of a slightly larger but still tiny minority. But does it really matter? Personally, I'd rather have ten people come to my recital because they genuinely want to hear my music than 10 000 who are mainly coming for the intoxicants, socializing, and light show. If you're interested in commercial success, you need to adjust what you offer to what people want to hear. That's never going to be contemporary art music.

 

 
Quote

There is a market for everything, but my post wasn't about whether or not the market merely exists; it's about comparative demand.

I'm not sure if your excerpt is referring to America, UK or the world, but let's go with the assumption for now it's UK

According to statista, in 2019, there were 34 million concert goers with 5 million of that being at Festivals.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/282032/music-concert-and-festival-attendance-in-the-uk-by-attendee-type/

It does not sort these by genre, but by googling what the most popular music festivals and concerts in the UK are...well, aside from BBC Proms, none of them seem to have orchestras. So I think it's a safe bet that the lion's share of those 34 million concert goers are going to popular genres and not piling into the ~54k classical/opera performances.

 

Although your experience is quite common, as a person who ran a music festival for over 7 years, I can tell you that the demand is there. I was astounded by the amount of "normies" who wanted to come to my concerts. In fact, I can't tell you how many people came up to me after concerts telling me that they never thought the would enjoy this type of music as much as they did. Of course, it helped that I set expectations for the music, I would often give talks before the show managing expectations and giving them ideas of what to listen for in certain pieces. I would explain that some would be pretty nice, others would be weird, and some pieces they probably wouldn't like (but that they should listen to certain features of these pieces). This really focused their attention and brought several people back to multiple concerts. The issue of the topic is not the demand of concerts nor the attendance of normies, but rather, that the community that champions this music and wants to have their pieces performed, doesn't champion that music at all.

I will provide another example. When completing my doctoral degree at the Cincinnati College Conservatory (a huge school of music with at least 40 composers) our professors lamented that composers were not going to their piers recitals. Now, you may say believe that it was because they were busy with classes and such, but that's not the case. When the school mandated the attendance of composers to go to their piers concerts, suddenly attendance sky-rocketed -- even though there was no credit offered for the class. Now, why is this? Why did it take mandating students to attend their piers concerts to make it happen. One would think that these composers would support their piers and the new music community by going to these concerts -- even if they didn't really want to go!

My point is that, composers lament the fact that nobody goes to concerts (whether it be normies or anybody in general), but when it gets down to business and opportunities come up to attend and support concerts they say don't exist, they don't go! This shouldn't come down to "ah, well it's because I don't enjoy the music at these concerts." There should be an obligation to support these efforts, especially when the composer complains that opportunities and events as such never happen.

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1 hour ago, Morgri said:

 

Although your experience is quite common, as a person who ran a music festival for over 7 years, I can tell you that the demand is there. I was astounded by the amount of "normies" who wanted to come to my concerts. In fact, I can't tell you how many people came up to me after concerts telling me that they never thought the would enjoy this type of music as much as they did. Of course, it helped that I set expectations for the music, I would often give talks before the show managing expectations and giving them ideas of what to listen for in certain pieces. I would explain that some would be pretty nice, others would be weird, and some pieces they probably wouldn't like (but that they should listen to certain features of these pieces). This really focused their attention and brought several people back to multiple concerts. The issue of the topic is not the demand of concerts nor the attendance of normies, but rather, that the community that champions this music and wants to have their pieces performed, doesn't champion that music at all.

I will provide another example. When completing my doctoral degree at the Cincinnati College Conservatory (a huge school of music with at least 40 composers) our professors lamented that composers were not going to their piers recitals. Now, you may say believe that it was because they were busy with classes and such, but that's not the case. When the school mandated the attendance of composers to go to their piers concerts, suddenly attendance sky-rocketed -- even though there was no credit offered for the class. Now, why is this? Why did it take mandating students to attend their piers concerts to make it happen. One would think that these composers would support their piers and the new music community by going to these concerts -- even if they didn't really want to go!

My point is that, composers lament the fact that nobody goes to concerts (whether it be normies or anybody in general), but when it gets down to business and opportunities come up to attend and support concerts they say don't exist, they don't go! This shouldn't come down to "ah, well it's because I don't enjoy the music at these concerts." There should be an obligation to support these efforts, especially when the composer complains that opportunities and events as such never happen.

 

Yeah, but this just comes back to the original point.

Do you want seats full of musicians or do you want seats full of normal people? Do you want people who feel "obligated" to go rather than because they love it? I wouldn't. If a large amount of people showing up at my shows just felt "obligated" to be there, then I wouldn't even do the show. If you have seats full of normal people listening to new music, I just don't see what the problem is.

Should composers not be composing music instead of just sitting in at concerts? I guess I just don't really see it as hypocritical for the people who write the music to want more people to experience it, but not attend concerts themselves. I know a lot of people in the game industry. Most all of them have told me they don't actually play video games themselves. After sitting in front of screens for hours and hours a day designing and testing them, the LAST thing they want to do when they go home is anything to do with video games. Are they hypocrites?

I think most composers would probably rather spend time creating than consuming.

Look, I can only speak from my own experience, and maybe I shouldn't admit this for professional reasons, but I find myself dedicating less time to composing all the time. It is very easy for music, when you're a musician, to totally take over your life. The newest piece I've been working on, I just checked the creation date of the project file...I started it over 2 months ago and it's just about a 3 minute tune. When I was like 19 or 20, I could sit in front of this screen all day, man. Sun up to sundown and have a 5-minute tune totally done and do it all over again the next day. Now, I can only spend maybe an hour or two on it and then I'm itching to get outside and go do stuff. In between the replies on the posts here today, I went out on the usual forest trail I hike every day and doing pullups at the local playground.

After having my brain focused on creating music for even just a couple hours, I'm not really interested in doing anything else with music for a while and once I finish a project, I usually have considerable downtime between then and the next one. When I was younger, composing music and playing guitar consumed my life. It was all I did. It was all I wanted. When I was 16, I dropped out of school to practice guitar 12-16 hours a day, study theory, etc. I remember the first kinda-good song I ever wrote was when I was 14. I stayed up until 4 am on a school night to get it done because I was just so happy with it.

 I passed up a lot of social opportunities and other things I shouldn't have because I was totally committed to music. I am far from being alone in that regard.

But there is more to life than music and for a lot of the composers you're describing, like the college MANDATING that it's students attend their peers concerts when they're already spending the majority of their waking hours dedicated to music — can you blame them for not going?

 

 

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20 hours ago, Quinn said:

A piece would be played by an ensemble after which the conductor would ask the composer if that was ok. The composer would say thankyou, yes, fine. Whereupon the conductor would say "Well, it wasn't what you wrote! The oboe missed the entry in bar (whatever) and the viola came in a bar late...." etc. Not that every student was so naive - but it also happened at a summer school (Dartington) I attended.

But could this also be due to the lack of experience a (student) composer has compared to the length of time (professional) musicians have been playing; an unwillingness to be assertive in case it will offend: "You played that wrong, and that wrong, and that wrong..." I know that for me, personally, it's a struggle to say this, partly due to the respect I have for musicians, partly because I'm not like that anyway! I think this may well be a large portion of this issue.

aMC

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On 7/14/2021 at 4:38 AM, aMusicComposer said:

But could this also be due to the lack of experience a (student) composer has compared to the length of time (professional) musicians have been playing; an unwillingness to be assertive in case it will offend: "You played that wrong, and that wrong, and that wrong..." I know that for me, personally, it's a struggle to say this, partly due to the respect I have for musicians, partly because I'm not like that anyway! I think this may well be a large portion of this issue.

aMC

 

I'm not an assertive one either for the most part. I'm passive, which on the one hand, it means that I'm nice to people most of the time and often am silent when emotional(so as to avoid someone taking advantage of my emotion and saying "You Liar!"(I really am afraid of that happening, people taking my emotion as me lying when I am being honest, so I try to stay silent when emotional)), but on the other hand, it means that my emotions get bottled up until they reach breaking point and you don't want to see me at breaking point. Very angry followed by waves of crying and the upsetness lasting an hour, sometimes longer, that's what I'm like at breaking point. I always get into the crying upsetness after the anger phase. I can't go straight from anger to happiness, I'm not that bipolar in emotion. Breaking point emotional eruption only happens when I am at home.

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On 7/13/2021 at 3:44 AM, Morgri said:

Now tell me this, if composers and performers won't even show up to new music concerts, why do we expect people who don't typically listen to new music to show up. Audiences notice who is there and who isn't. It's quite telling to them when they come to a new music concert and don't see any musicians or composers in attendance. I mean, if musicians don't even want to go -- why would anyone else wanna come for that matter?

How can this be fixed?

In my experience it's like this:

 

If it's your -job- to write music and/or perform music, the amount of interest you have in attending music concerts or whatever is quite lessened since it's already part of your job. It's something you do ALL THE TIME, so the free time you have you're probably going to try to spend it doing other stuff. This is actually my MO too. I rarely, if ever, go to any concerts or anything to do with any "musical community," as far as I'm concerned. The exception is, like you said, that someone actually invites me or something, then I'm engaged in a personal level and most likely will attempt to attend if possible.

 

On the other hand, I've been in this forum for like 14 years, during which time I tried as hard as I could to help other people (I used to be a teacher here, too.) And the amount of times I've helped people with rehearsals, moving instruments and doing all sorts of stuff for the local "music community" is quite high. My point is, I do what I can, but tbh there's just so much music out there that I don't feel like I need to attend everything nor do I really care for a quite a lot of the music that's performed.

 

I think it's a shame that your festival attempt wasn't more successful, but you should've never thought about it being something that would target musicians or composers. They're a lost cause in terms of concert attendance, and there's absolutely nothing you can do to fix this. Again, if it's your day job to make music, it's entirely understandable you want to dedicate your free time to other things. Also take into consideration just how much music a composer has to actually hear as part of their study/job, it's years and years of music, I know many composers who never go to concerts for the same reason too. At a certain point, unless there's a personal stake, why bother?

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