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Welcome to my new blog

I’ve had this website up here for many months, but have treated it more as a placeholder than anything else. Some of you may know me from the other life I lead—I’m a professional trader and I also teach other people to trade and make money in financial markets. My Twitter and other blog are focused on this aspect of my life (and my Instagram is mostly dedicated to my former career as a professional chef!).

You might think that markets and music—finance and art—are about as far apart as you can get. I think you’d be wrong. They are tied together by one very strong common thread: patterns and transformations of patterns.

The past year (2020) was an exceedingly strange year, and I’ve used much of it to contemplate the factors that led me to leave the life of a musician more than 10 years ago, and to think what I want to do with music in the future.

Like so many things in modern life, the music industry is becoming both compressed and fractured at the same time. Making a living in music has always been challenging, but will it be even harder as fewer and fewer people pay for music? It’s not too hard to imaging record labels completely crushed by imploding profit margins, and maybe even a world in which music is so commoditized that live music largely dies.

Why would someone want to make music in such a world?

It’s a good question. In 2005, my answer was more or less “I don’t”, but time marches on, and my answer is a bit different today.

Perhaps I’m simply picking up a rusted sword for another swing or two at some windmills, but I don’t think so. I think there is something good, something important, to be done here.

I’ll use this space to

  • To try to work out the state of modern “concert music” (even the label is problematic, but the music I’m talking about is what might commonly be called “modern classical music”—a healthy oxymoron, to say the least). It’s relatively easy to get a perspective on what is being done, but, for me, the meaningful questions center around the whys. I will spend some time considering the connection and relevance to an audience (that may or may not even exist), and why we care. This will not be pure abstraction—these are the questions I am wrestling with as a working composer.
  • I’ll probably write some about various aspects of music, modern and historical. I’m equally at home working out the nuances in a DAW or discussing Notre Dame organum. Hopefully, this can generate some discussion with people who know more than I do and have perspectives other than mine. Maybe some of this work could even serve as an entry point for people who do not have prior exposure to concert music.
  • I’ll also share some random musings on creativity, from a composer’s perspective. Some of this will directly apply to music, but some might look a little further afield.
  • I expect to create some educational material at some point the in future. I love to teach, and I taught hundreds of music students, at all skill levels, for many years. I have some insights on topics such as harmony, counterpoint, and voiceleading that may be useful. I don’t expect this to be a focus in 2021 as I’m already slated to write a large book and develop coursework in another field, but it’s certainly a thought for the future.

Check back for more updates soon, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “hello, World!” from my new blog platform.