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Dangerous Music

Though (kinda) fun to watch, I’ve never had any desire to play an extreme sport. When  it comes to my physical well-being, I always put safety first. But when it comes to music I’m a big risk-taker: the more extreme, the more at stake, the more dangerous the music, the better.

Dangerous music seeks to break new ground, to push the boundaries of convention and taste. In doing so, it often thwarts listener expectations, sometimes even alienates listeners. Being unpopular is a burden dangerous composers are willing to carry. They welcome it, in fact, because it encourages both personal growth and the growth of music itself.

Don’t confuse dangerous music with abrasive, in-your-face music. What danger is there in assaulting a hardcore metal lover with hardcore metal? The very hardcore-ness of the music is safe for the metal fan, because it reinforces his musical status quo. Likewise, don’t think that nontraditional organization of pitch, rhythm, timbre necessarily makes for dangerous music. If your milieu is 12-tone integral serialism, composing a hyper-complex Boulez-ian integral serial piece is an act of personal safety, as conventional as a folkie writing JAFS (just another folk song).

Chances are you already have a taste for danger in your music or you wouldn’t be here. I’d like to encourage you to cultivate this, to become an afficionado of dangerous music.

If you’re a composer, this means embracing the path of constant growth and self-questioning. It means not dwelling very long in any one compositional realm, rather always moving on. If you are a listener, it means daring to wander (regularly) outside your zone of musical comfort.

Dangerous music puts you in touch with your truest, most essential and powerful self, which is as I see it: the only compositional goal really worth pursuing.

Posted on December 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm by rachmiel · Permalink

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Jan NEH Civil
    on December 4, 2011 at 3:21 am

    I could be 51-50’d at any time

  2. Written by M. Ives
    on December 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Bravo! Rachmiel speaks danger to complacency! Duchamp and Cage take a break from their heavenly chess game to smile on this entry.

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