Sunday, July 12, 2015

Relative Relevance Ramble

I remember the first time I got something published. It was a magazine article that I spent a great deal of time researching and writing. I expected that the publication of that article might cause some kind of reaction somewhere, but it caused no reaction anywhere. None.

The editors of the magazine added several paragraphs of material to one of my subsequent articles, which made me very angry. Copies of the issues that contain my articles are sitting on a shelf somewhere in my house. I'm not mentioning the name of the magazine here. I also won't mention the names of other music magazines that routinely changed the copy I gave them into something unrecognizable.

I did spend more than 20 years writing reviews for a magazine that treated me fairly, for the most part. I learned that the reviews I wrote mattered a lot to the people who made the recordings, particularly if there was a sentence that could serve as a "blurb." One or two people noticed my occasional mistake, and my father always called to discuss the recordings I reviewed that were interesting to him. Now that I no longer write for that magazine I no longer talk about my reviews with my father. That's really the only thing I miss.

The first time I had a piece of music published I did feel like something changed for me. The publisher I worked with routinely sold new music to libraries, and he was thrilled that so many people wanted copies of the music I had written. I believe he used the term "hotcakes." He said that he would publish anything I had. That first year I made serious royalties, and they continued for the next few years. He called often to tell me how things were going, and he made comments about each piece I sent him. He even commissioned me to write something. When our family came to New York he took us out to dinner.

That publisher is no longer alive, but the music he published is still in libraries all over the country. And it is all available as print-on-demand from another publisher who never calls, and doesn't seem to do anything in the way of promotion.

So where is this all leading? Nowhere, actually. It is a wonderful thing to do creative work. It gives me a sense of purpose, but when my creative work is not received in the spirit with which it is given, there doesn't seem to be a sense of purpose for doing it, or at least sharing it.

In the early days of the Internet, before Facebook, Twitter, and monetizing (which I refuse to do), I felt like I had a place of relative relevance, both with this blog and with the music that I make available through the IMSLP. With so much new music available at the press of a button, I feel that my contributions are becoming less and less relevant. I know that I have a unique "voice" as a composer (just like I have a unique face, a unique speaking voice, and a unique set of personality traits), but it seems that through all the hustle and bustle that "voice" is no longer as relevant as I used to feel it was.

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