Well, I'm now into my third year blogging on aworks. I'm not much of a celebrationist but I will point out the blog's humble beginnings (prototype blog here) and now 450 or so posts later (and even more "I's" later), this has been more fun and interesting for me than I ever hoped.Thanks to all subscribers, readers, googlers, listeners, critics, broadcasters, podcasters, composers, performers, commenters, trackbakers, emailers, linkers, link farmers, comment spammers etc. I'm also grateful to my family for tolerating, if not completely understanding, my interest in this music.
Looking back, I can now see how I latch onto various composers and feel the need to collect and listen to everything they've written. Last year, that was true for Henry Cowell and Philip Glass although the latter is too prolific for my own good. This year, I seem to be leaning towards Aaron Copland and Chas Smith, although I'm rekindling my interest in Frank Zappa and John Coltrane as well.
The other observation is that over the last two years, I tipped over to MP3 tracks from than full CDs as the organizing mode for listening to music. The immediacy of having instant access to all that new music and all my favorite music is intoxicating. Still, as I have pointed out before, it comes at the expense of coherency. A CD comes in, presumably, a well-thought out program of related music with possibly detailed liner notes and artistic covers, all consumable in one concentrated sitting. Now, with MP3s, it's often one track at a time but all the time and in the case eMusic downloads, no liner notes or artwork at all. I was listening to a Harry Partch track from EMusic today, his Dark Brother. I have no idea if this is part of a larger work, I know nothing of its historical or musical or performance significance. So, in some ways, the experience is purer -- just me with Harry's music (in this case, a good thing) -- but still quite fragmented.
All of this leads me to the origins of aworks. Having used a similar technology at work, I tried in 2002 to host a wiki that was going to serve as a reference site for Amerian music (similar in scope if different in objective from what Sequenza21 has started). But I wasn't satisfied with the software at the time, so I redirected my efforts to writing about American classical music on Wikipedia. However, I quickly found writing real reference material was work and since I get enough of that from a Silicon Valley startup, it was not sustainable. So, I tried a blog instead, and here we are, a supplement to those standalone tracks.
If I had more time, I can think of possible aworks additions: 1) more emphasis on music composed this century, especially if available on the web 2) more news of upcoming recordings, 3) additional insight into Amerian history at the time of the composition 4) more description of what I am actually listening to i.e. putting the "log" back into "weblog" and 5) making available streams or MP3s of what I am listening to. For the latter, I have several ideas on how to do this but haven't yet ascertained what constitutes "fair use." It also occurs to me I would like to attend more concerts, but that's true whether I blog or not.
Finally, I made a conscious decision to organize the blog around individual works rather than by CD (or by composer). Two years later, I've thought about organizing it around how I now listen i.e. by track. But renaming "aworks" to "atracks" doesn't sound right so I'll stick with what I have.
Thanks for reading and all hail Aaron Copland (or <insert your favorite American composer here>)...
Anyway, Grant Chu Covell reviews the Innova Dean Drummond release including Harry Partch's Dark Brother:
Dark Brother is a setting of the last paragraphs of Thomas Wolfe’s God’s Lonely Man. It’s a gloomy piece with Robert Osborne intoning the text over dark bass colors.