The Gift of Conscious and Well-Informed Decision-Making

By on 10-14-2010 in Music Clinic & Lecture Notes

by Gary Powell

For the students from the University of Texas Butler School of Music (MUS 339M)

Professor Glenn Richter asked me to pose a question or two for your contemplation. Below you will find several from which to choose. I will look forward to plunging the depths with you next Wednesday, October 20, 2010.

“Notes are the tiny fragments of sound that, when artfully strung together, become emotions, landscapes, storms, and dreams. Composers and the musicians who perform their works must be very aware of the notes, as they are the means through which the former translate their meaning into something the latter can understand. However, without the meaning the notes have no purpose, and the musicians must artfully translate the written music into expressive sounds.”
~ Laura Rando, Notes Become Three

Laura Rando’s description of the importance of music composition brings up an important question; with whom are you going to do business? Regardless of your chosen discipline within the music industry, you will have to make this decision. Best it be conscious!

Let’s assume you agree with Laura Rando. If so, who is the keeper of the flame and where is the temple of righteousness? You have a few choices for clients, most of which are large organizations or corporations. To narrow the list there are record companies, television networks, movie studios and universities. I’ve purposefully omitted one holder of the truth for you to discover yourself or maybe you have others to suggest as well.

It’s best to choose your lane before being forced into making a wrong turn!

Most students have limited access to advice from professionals who have worked within these companies or institutions. Most professors have gads of feedback for living a professional life in academia, but limited experience in working within corporate entertainment production companies. That said, some composers have worked for decades within these production companies and still can’t explain in any cogent manner what happened. Now you, the gifted, the talented, our hope for the future – have some work to do!

As a serious student musician or student of the music business, you will certainly hope to find work with people who share your intrinsic and artistic values. To fully understand yourself, it might be important to grapple with some of these artistic existential questions: What is art? What is it’s highest and best use? Why does entertainment sometimes quit entertaining? When does entertainment transform into high art. How does the idea of high art drop into meaninglessness? What are the effects of money on the production of all art and entertainment? Where does the money come from and where does it go? Just how transparent is the funding of any production or position?

You can bet I have answers for all these questions, but they’ve been rendered unfortunately in hindsight. Here’s the gift; you can learn from my experience without it having to be your experience. Your forthcoming decision should include defining what you value and then identifying the organizations or people which share that value. This is hopefully where you will spend you life. However, without a gold-template reference of what’s really out there, this exercise becomes rather academic. So, it’s time to continue your initial reality research through this class and then maybe do some further research on yourself as well. Seldom will these two research papers match, but doesn’t have to be that way! See you next Wednesday. I’ll be the tall white-headed one.

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