Rob Haskins by Michael Clayville (2012)

Welcome to my new blog

When my friend Raúl Santaella undertook a major redesign of my website, he suggested I include a blog with regular entries. I know he’s right: fresh content keeps people coming back.

However, as someone who’s had the good fortune to be published in a number of places and wants to continue to do so, I have a dilemma: what kind of content is suitable for a blog—that is, worth reading and worth writing—and yet is content that I wouldn’t want to try to publish elsewhere?

I haven’t thought very long and hard about this question, but my instincts tell me the best hope I have to maintain the required number of entries (one entry weekly or, at most, every two weeks) is to concentrate on the kind of quick writing I already do—principally, music journalism, reviewing, and the occasional program or CD liner notes—but choose topics that, for one reason or another, won’t easily appear in The American Record Guide, where I write many reviews on John Cage, harpsichord music, Philip Glass, and some piano music.

Though I regularly review new John Cage recordings, there are many older ones that I’ve never written about: especially many of the earlier Cage recordings on Mode Records, many of the volumes of Steffen Schleiermacher’s collection of the complete piano works, other classic Cage recordings that I’ve acquired over the years, and newer recordings that never made it to ARG. As I move forward with this project, it’ll be possible, eventually, to write a longer piece that serves as an introduction of Cage’s music for music lovers, students, and maybe even a few professionals—a kind of music-appreciation-style essay that complements the discographical essay I wrote for the Music Library Association’s journal Notes in 2010.

I’d also like to write some more about so-called minimalist composers both familiar and less-familiar: a short list would include not only Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but also Michael Nyman, Wim Mertens, David Borden, Simeon ten Holt, Scott Pender, and a few others. Some of these writings would be reviews of recordings (and possibly of some concerts), but I hope others will be shortish, more critical essays that, I hope, will contribute something toward the continuing reception of this music.

My great interest and affection for minimalism doesn’t mean, of course, that I see this music and others like it as the great new hope for new music. I’ve been exploring the music of serial composers for several years now, and hope one day to write a book that discusses this music in more ways than the technical ones that have dominated the literature on it thus far—appreciation, again. If I can, I want to explore some of the ideas for that book-to-be here.

I also continue to be interested in emerging composers and sound artists, and I want to write about their work here. One composer I’m very fond of is Tristan Perich, whose art background brings him an unusual but useful perspective to today’s new-music composition, and I would expect to devote a few posts to his work. But there are many, many others, many of whom I’ve discovered through social media. I would like these posts to serve as a forum for discussion with and about these artists; to that end, I would be grateful for these artists or people who love them to send me information and samples of new works. I hope to review some recordings of new music, especially the kind of music that lies in the interstices between styles and audiences and who might otherwise be overlooked. The easiest way to contact me is to follow me on Twitter or send a friend request on Facebook; you could also contact me through this website.

In short, I hope I can fulfill my hopes for this blog and that it will bring to those interested in music—especially new music—a forum for discussion and exploration.

Photograph by Michael Clayville