Prof. McJeebie Quoted in Recent News Story
IS THE F.B.I. TARGETTING YOUNG COMPOSERS OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC?
Despite accumulating circumstantial evidence to the contrary, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has consistently denied allegations that it cooperates with Hotel Cadillac and Eastman School of Music security officers in Rochester, NY, to keep tabs on young composers of electronic music. "We have detectives who monitor musicians in general and report all incidents regarding the music industry,” says Agent Rudy Rubato, a spokesperson for the Bureau, “but we do not single out individual composers, and even if we did, I’m sure we would not focus on electronic music composers."
Heebie McJeebie, the well-endowed TANDY Professor of Electronic Music at the Hotel Cadillac, is an outspoken critic of both the F.B.I. and young composers. He says the police need to be more aware of the “very serious issues facing composers of very serious music. If they’re only watching musicians, they’re watching the wrong people. Performing musicians almost always obey the laws because they’ve been taught since a very young age to respect the way things are. But composers – especially the younger ones – it’s as if they’ve just moved here from a foreign country like Amsterdam. They’re smoking marijuana and riding their bicycles on the wrong side of the street at all hours of the night.”
Most young composers don’t see it that way. They believe the F.B.I. is spying on composers, and that the surveillance creates a false paranoia. They cite the recent circus that erupted around teen-idol composer Missy Mazzoli who recently shaved her head and locked herself in an insulated soundproof booth at a recording studio in Beverly Hills, CA. She returned to public life just a few days later, and then announced a performance on March 20th of her conspicuously titled composition Shy Girl Shouting Music for soprano and chamber ensemble.
Some young composers are visibly hostile toward the F.B.I. The irate and disheveled composer Tristan Perich recently organized an all-night “Log-In,” during which he blogged, "A very dangerous precedent is being set, and composers of electronic music don’t believe in precedents!” As I challenged him on this blanket statement, Perich lost patience with my questions and yelled incomprehensibly over his one-bit cell phone. Later, he explained on his social networking site, “Composers must avoid making strong commitments and setting precedents. That’s why we stopped using tape, and now we use only digital playback.” (It turns out that digital playback is often still referred to as “tape” in order to foil authorities.)
Pilate Palmer is an attorney representing two Rochester composers who allege police harassment in connection with their recent arrests. Palmer questions the effectiveness of collecting data on electronic music composers since their technology usually goes out of date before pieces are premiered. "How many people have the police arrested at this point based on yesterday’s emails and last week’s software updates?" asks Palmer.
"The police department is primarily set up to protect and serve,” says Agent Lance Latency. “I was there to help investigators go out and capture people," says Latency, "but our long term goal, as we build up to a crescendo, is to prevent crimes... because when you start talking to younger composers and you know they have hits on their websites and you’re on to them, people won’t go out and shoot at them or rob them if they know the police are around. Most of the time, it's not the composers; it's the musicians stealing their music who cause the problems."