Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Concert vs Popular Music

I've had people asking me if I expect my concert music (symphonies, string quartets, etc.) to be as popular as my Rock stuff for Lyraka and the answer is "of course not!". My symphonies, for instance, are by nature not going to be especially popular even by the broadest definitions of the term. I knew that when I began writing them. However, due to this capitalistic, MTV-led society we live in I feel I should expand upon my otherwise succinct answer.

Concert music is a way of taking what I sometimes consider the handcuffs of Rock forms off and taking flight with a vision that is entirely Andy-made and Andy-led. With Popular music (to clarify, by Popular music I include Rock, Metal, Country-Western, Hip Hop, get the picture), you're typically given so many bars to make an impact, otherwise you start making the composition into something that isn't Popular music (i.e., not particularly liked by the majority of folks). Popular music requires adherence to a set of rules (I know, sounds like the philosophical opposite of what many people define as Rock music). Film scores are often the same way, aligning strictly with what's on the screen (though film composers like Goldsmith and Herrmann have in their scores pushed the envelope into art music with highly sophisticated and creative composition, harmonic deviltry, and idiosyncratic orchestration).

With concert music (I'll include the avante garde genre along with the abovementioned symphonies, REAL concerti, Kammermusik, etc.) one has the opportunity to make one's own rules according to inner experience (witness how my symphony writing rarely if ever conforms to the Classic/Romantic rules of structure, as my creative spirit won't settle for that kind of outer imposition...and yeah, I'm aware and couldn't care less how pretentious that sounds).

Some would read the above and wonder why I would share these non-Rock compositions with others if they were deeply personal and not necessarily adherent to forms that people know and deeply love. Well, I do want people to hear this music, for one my concert music is some of my most potentially enduring. Lyraka was written with sophisticated composition only peripherally in mind (I had to exorcise the rock guitar muse that was a big part of my getting into music in the first place), and I'm quite proud of many of the compositions there. However, that music was ultimately all about Jasmine's story and in no small part a gift to her and the magic she's brought to my life (thus, not necessarily compositionally advanced, though there are portents of future concert work there). My symphonies, etc. are for the far future, or however long humanity has before we either blow each other up or the climate finishes the job itself. I must also point out that my Composer's Sketchpad series was designed for both music students and fans to have insight into what Martin Popoff referred to (in his review of Lyraka Volume 1) as the "partaking in the thought process of a great songwriter".

Anyhow, after this burst of hot air, I hope everyone who didn't fall asleep gets the point 😝.

Here's a ten year old photo of me to lighten things up😏: