'Do the experiences I create draw people in or push people out?'
This is one in a series of questions posed to self by Elliot Cole. Others are:
'Am I just trying to impress people and get famous?
Do the experiences I create draw people in or push people out?
My musical world seems to get smaller and smaller, and look more and more like me. Is that what I wanted?
Do I want to be in a culture where hierarchy and prestige have so much power? If not, would I ever have the guts to give up mine?
Do we composers really earn the reverence we are shown?
Our whole disposable capitalist culture is obsessed with novelty and progress. Is a value system based on the newness of music really as countercultural as I think it is?
How many of my ideas about new music really stand up to critical thought and how many are magical thinking?
Do I want to live a life in front of my computer making scores and sending emails?
How does the range of meaningful feeling I experience at a new music concert (or create for others to experience) stack up against other things I love—say, being outside on a summer night, cooking a big meal for friends, or swimming in a lake?
What’s the difference between being a champion of my community and being a partisan, fighting to expand the size and status of a little kingdom just because I happen to belong to it?
Am I OK making music basically with and for people who have received similar educations to me?
When I say “21st-century music” why do I really mean “21st-century music, except for everything made by people who aren’t educated in the culture I was”?
Have I used esoteric musical preferences and interests to feel different from (superior to?) other people? Has that isolated me? Can I in good faith encourage others to do the same?
Am I OK with an aesthetic ideology that values making people uncomfortable more than making people happy?
I LOVE to dance to music, maybe more than anything else in the world. Why am I in a musical culture with no dancing??
For all its education, the words of value I hear more than any others in this field are “weird,” “crazy,” and “cool.” Why is a sound cool if it’s crazy? Is “weird” actually an interesting idea? Is “cool” enough for me?
Do the technical fixations I inherited—extended technique, virtuosity, hockets, structure, technology, etc.—actually relate to what I find meaningful and powerful in a musical experience? Do I use them to connect with people, or just to impress them?
I feel so much more joy and warmth and connection with others in informal musical situations and with amateurs than I do sitting on a stage in a big hall. So why do I focus so much of my energy on the big hall?
Do I want to learn from other people/traditions/cultures, or do I just want them to do music the way I do it?
Is my ignorance of other musical cultures just ignorance, or is it indifference? Is there a shade of contempt in that indifference?
Am I a snob?
If what I value most is connecting with other people deeply and sharing meaningful experiences, is the way I’m doing music really achieving that?'