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Musical Collisions and Radical Creativity with Mark Applebaum

  • Is the common practice tradition of composing, performing, and listening to music dead? And if not, how can we kill it?


    Musical Collisions and Radical Creativity invites composers, performers, and composer-performers... and those engaged in composition, improvisation, or comprovisation... to examine the margins of musical culture in search of nonconformist, maverick, and eccentric creative impulses that radically expand the definition of art. This course is aimed at any creative musician whose reverence for musical convention is emboldened by an equal skepticism and dissatisfaction.


    Selected topics include: ritual in performance; the boundaries of musical indeterminacy; the ephemerality of silence; polyartists and dilettantes; the opportunities and perils of the “culture of one”; visual music, choreography, mixed media, and intermedia; creative reinvention and the value of artistic crisis; the twin dangers of gravity and levity; and a “dry run for the cultural apocalypse” (e.g., strategies for musical autonomy in the age of institutional collapse). Other topics will respond to those obsessions, joys, fears, and fetishes of course participants.


    Participants will have the option to present their music to the group, get feedback on work in progress, and take optional lessons with Mark Applebaum. We will have daily meetings to consider the role of the “artistic collision” in the sphere of new music and media, and to discuss musical works and ideas that serve as tools for leveraging innovation, questioning artistic boundary conditions, and celebrating the experimentalist’s aspiration to succeed but willingness to fail in search of new musical orientations. We will maintain a laboratory atmosphere in which students can develop a project—whether alone or in collaboration with other colleagues—to be presented in performance or installation before the conclusion of the course. We will also form a group improvisation ensemble, learning John Zorn’s game piece “Cobra,” considering ways of interpreting graphic scores, and trying out ideas by the participants.


    Participants should bring an instrument to perform on: laptop computer performance is welcome; however, participants are especially encouraged to bring an acoustic instrument or sing. One’s prior ability and experience as an improviser or instrumental virtuoso is welcome but NOT required: enthusiasm and an open mind is of the highest priority. As such, this course offers an eye-opening, introductory opportunity for everyone to expand their experiences and abilities.


    For a cursory perspective on Mark Applebaum—and an abiding question that will be asked—see  https://www.ted.com/talks/mark_applebaum_the_mad_scientist_of_music 


    Mark Applebaum (born 1967 in Chicago, Illinois)is Professor of Composition and Theory at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied principally with Brian Ferneyhough. His solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia with notable premieres at the Darmstadt summer sessions. He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Fromm Foundation, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Wien Modern, Antwerp’s Champ D’Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, Zeitgeist, MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Kronos Quartet, the Jerome Foundation, and the American Composers Forum, among others. His music can be heard on recordings on the Innova, Tzadik, Capstone, and SEAMUS labels.

    As a jazz pianist, Applebaum has performed around the world. In 1994 he received the jazz prize of the Southern California Jazz Society.


    Additional information is available at www.markapplebaum.com.