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Making Music Happen

April 4, 2011

*warning, this is dangerously close to a blog post best place in a livejournal*

So, I’ve been rather consumed with starting the band. I unfortunately won’t be posting a concert calendar this month because well, I’m locking myself in my bedroom until every detail for the group is perfect. As exciting as getting my performing on is, I’m honestly not looking forward to spending most of my time in April listening to my own music.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find some balance in May, though I am reminded of a William S. Burroughs quote about advising writers to read as much as possible before they have to write for a living, because once that happens they won’t have time to read anymore.

I really enjoy the process of making art exist. Whether it’s through playing music on the radio people are probably not familiar with or setting up concerts, its nice to expand beauty’s reach into the world. Phil Ochs once said, “In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.” Who is to say Michael Durek putting on two concerts later this week in New Jersey isn’t protest? (He’s hosting Polish ensemble HATI (April 8th in New Brunswick and the 9th in Woodcliff Lake.)

The recent series of discussions on arts funding and paying artists have also been particularly relevant to me because of both the concert and my recent experiment of selling sheet music. I’m a musician hiring other musicians or selling my music to others to perform. It would be nice to able to feed myself via music, but mostly I just want to make music happen. Currently, the enterprises I’m engaged in are losing ones.  It costs $35 to copyright a work, and putting on a concert that pays musicians, even meager amounts, moves towards four digits.

The price tags I put on the music seem to be more a sign of respect than a true dollar value of the music created. Sure, I’d love for everyone to have endless money through the arts, but I’m not in that position at the moment. I just hope that the various musicians I interact with understand it, and just maybe, see that there’s some future potential for the music to become profitable down the road.

Reading the Cage bio, it almost seems like it’s too simple. He, like Henry Cowell before him, just seemed to make things happen. Both had assistance financially, but they made it look so easy to my 21st century self. Cage in particular, even when in fundraising mode, seemed to place the value of creating artistic events so much higher than the worrying about having the means to do it. Both seemed to feed on momentum, or more likely, the artistic experiences themselves. It’s a seemingly American spirit.

I’m really hoping that’s the case because sending out e-mails for hours every day is not very fun. Still, I think musicians should be most concerned about engaging in making music happen and then they can sort out the details like money later. If we all pushed that mindset, we’d all be doing things we find to be invigorating and hopefully making the world a more beautiful place. It’s also the best way to get people to have confidence in you and excited for what you want to do. I often tell people, in situations completely unrelated to music, that Everything Always Works Out. Perhaps I need to tape that to my laptop for the next month.

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