Recently, I've stopped thinking about music philosophy.
It's not that the philosophical studies or elements of music-making aren't important or valid, because they totally are. But during my last late-night thinking session about Life, the Universe, and Everything, I had some marvelous epiphanies about my music's place in society and felt super proud of myself. Then, I realized I hadn't actually written any new music in almost a year.
This is, in a word, stupid.
The philosophy of defining music wasn't really the problem- the problem was that philosophy had become a distraction. Anything that prevents you from making and practicing your art isn't helpful, even if that includes the axioms and ideas about why you're doing it in the first place. In the balance between the business and production side of my composing vs. the "ontological thought" side, it's time for a shift to the business and production bit.
There's a kind of anti-academic, anti-status-quo composer persona I've encountered in other musicians, namely guys (always guys) who "don't want to be labeled".
Of course, most composers probably really don't want to be put into boxes, especially because there's already so much pressure to succeed without having to defend the very definition of our work on top of it. My theory is that the "not-really-into-labels" persona appeared because of that perfectly innocent and perfectly horrible question,
It gets asked by all well-meaning, genuinely curious people that find themselves interacting with a composer. Yes, a lot of us have huge egos, but I think the anti-label idea also comes from the fact that a lot of us just don't know the answer to the Scary Question. I can find problems with "indie-classical", "experimental", "contemporary", or any other term that comes up when describing my music. It makes it annoyingly difficult to talk about what we do, and makes us look like Maestro Douche-Poultry up there anytime some intelligent person is just trying to be nice and take an interest in our careers. Because the truth is, I would dearly love to be able to just say a one or two-word term that sums up my music, but the real answer is more like
If you ask a composer what kind of music they write, you're honestly not going to get a clear or satisfying answer. Instead, try asking
As soon as you hear it, I GUARANTEE it will answer the Scary Question a whole lot better than we can.
© 2018 John Huenemann. All rights reserved.