Exceptional Quality is Why Ticonderoga is the World’s Best Pencil!

I recently received word that I had been accepted into Manhattan School of Music’s graduate jazz composition program. This is probably the best program of its kind in the world (it’s a relatively new field in academia), with some of the best possible opportunities afforded to its students. Monthly score readings with jazz orchestras, private lessons with world-renowned composers (I’m hopefully to be studying with Jim McNeely, score!) and all sorts of awesome classes, I’d be in with the elite of the elite in one of the most prestigious Ivory Towers.

So I feel kind of bad that all I care about writing now is music like this.

Exceptional Quality is why Ticongeroga is the World’s Best Pencil

It’s actually a really involved piece of music – it’s serial (9-tone row), has a bunch of really complicated rhythmic concepts embedded within the concept, and was conceived as a blues. (I-VI-V-I chord progression, E-A-B-E, check it out) Yeah, that’s stretching, I know.

All that theoretical crap aside, I like it because for the most part its noise for the sake of noise. Noise is funny. Noise is annoying. Noise is obnoxious. Noise has balls. Noise is fun to play. Noise has passion. Noise has sweat. Noise has fire. The trick is figuring out how to contextualize it in way that it “makes sense.” Straight ahead jazz can only go so far with this, and free jazz often went too far. This attempt probably went too far as well, but it was an interesting juxtaposition – complicated prog-rock style rhythm and meter changes against pure noise. The 7/4 section almost sounds like Meshuggah, just with growly noisy saxophone in place of growled vocals.

So should I go tens of thousands of dollars in debt paying for an education that I would use to explore this side of music? Probably not. But it’s an idea I want to delve into at least a little bit more, with a little bit more rehearsal at the very least. Also, it’s really fun to make loud noises.

On a side note, here’s a video of that same session playing through a Mark Kilianski original. Its an insanely badass tune named Beef and Scrap metal that’s really fun to play. The audio is…a bit on the distorted side.


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Welcome to Adam Neely's blog/website. Check out his compositions, links, and information about lessons on the top bar, and enjoy the music!

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