Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today I performed a Google search for the phrase “Heebie McJeebie Famous Composer,” and one of the results returned to me was a website entitled “Famous Composer of Marching Band Music.” I was not aware that my back catalog of compositions has been archived on the world wide web, and this brings me to today’s pontification.
When a composer of electronic music allows his compositions to be “streamed” on the internet, not only does he compromise his file size, but he also subjects himself to endless years of cache-ing – a technique used by search engines to subvert the New York Times’ strict copyright rules. As I’ve said before, I am not one to shun technological innovations. In fact, just yesterday I was able to cast my gubernatorial vote via the internet. But there is something to be said for biodegradable music.
Take, for example, the composer Steve Reich, who celebrated his seventieth birthday last month. Mr. Reich (who is not a professor) regularly disavows much of his earlier music, but if you look on the internet, you can still find an mp3 of his teenaged composition “Jazzy Marimbas.” This is because Mr. Reich’s agent surreptitiously uploaded it to his own MySpace page with the hope of attracting underage fans. Now, thanks to Google’s cache, “Jazzy Marimbas” will be around forever, and Mr. Reich will never be able to truly disavow it.
Young composers, remember that you are never as wise today as you will be tomorrow. If you stream your compositions on YouTube, you will be reminded of your misspent youth fifty years from now as you grow old and decay.


Anonymous DJA said...

One can't help but wonder what Prof. McJeebie thinks of Reich's early experimental tape piece, "It's Raining Men."

12:35 PM  

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