It is right that the historian should indicate the summits of achievement in art (the poetry, architecture, and sculpture of ancient Greece, sixteenth- and eighteenth-century music, Renaissance painting, etc.); but in a sense this is of little use to us. The claims of life are stronger than the sublimest art; and even were we to agree that we had achieved the best and most beautiful it is possible to achieve, we should be impelled in the end, thirsting as we do more for life and experience than for perfection, to cry out: ‘Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven’s sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!’
Sam and I made it in to Athens, Georgia on late Tuesday night. Wednesday, we got up early and headed over to the University of Georgia Hodgson School of Music. First things first: the school itself is beautiful. The campus as a whole is really nice, but the music buildings are amazing. They have at least four really great performance halls. MSU has zero halls that aren’t embarrassingly terrible.
In the morning, we heard some great performances and some awful performances. Sam heard two guys play that he really wanted to have play his sax and electronics piece, simony. Later in the afternoon was Sam’s piece, trying it at home, played by the Iridium Quartet. Phillip and Nate got in just in time to hear the performance. At the end of the day, we were all pretty exhausted (especially Phillip and Nate, who had been in transit for around 18 hours).
Today, we got to set up our Folio Publishing Cooperative booth. Several people stopped by and looked at our stuff. A lot of people listened to our recordings (some people listened to the same piece more than once!), and a few told us they would be back tomorrow to buy things. Tomorrow we’re going to take credit cards. Yeah, we’re that cool. Unfortunately, though, the bottom line is this: We sold two things today. Two of Joe Lulloff’s CDs. If things continue this way, I’m going to feel really stupid. I was the one who convinced all of my friends to shell out some cash for the table and put together loads of scores for this silly thing. But again, it’s important to contextualize the definition of success. Sometimes that takes a bit of perspective and reflection. We had plenty working against our success as well. Not many people had heard of the composers at our table, no one had heard of our company, and as I told the composers involved, I would be a bit hesistant to give money or my credit card number at a seemingly fly-by-night conference vendor. Folio Publishing Cooperative will evolve the same way trying it at home will probably evolve. And when we get to where we’re going, we’ll have a different definition of success.
On a brighter note, H2 played my piece, Falling up the down escalator. They played it around 10 clicks faster than I’ve ever heard them play it before, but it sounded great. Even better: the hall was packed. Several people came by the table afterward to check out the score and tell me how much they enjoyed the piece. We’ll see if that turns into any sales in the next couple of days.
Sam Merciers and I left East Lansing at 7am this morning headed south. Way south. We’re going to Georgia.
The goal of our voyage is to narrow the gap between composers and publishers. We’re headed to the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference. Each of us have works being played, but we’re also going to distribute scores. We have a trunk load of scores, parts, and CDs from our colleagues at Michigan State that we will be selling (hopefully) to saxophonists at the conference. We think our music is valuable, and we think we can convince others of its value as well.
This is a bit of an experiment. We don’t really know if anybody will be interested in our scores, or how much they’ll be willing to pay. But if Jacob Ter Veldhuis can sell scores by the bucket, what’s stopping us?
With the de-mystification of computers and the internet and the decreasing price of high-quality printers, the list of things that publishers can do for composers that composers can’t do for themselves is getting smaller every day. Perhaps the biggest thing remaining is distribution. The two of us, along with the rest of the Folio Publishing Cooperative, are trying to take that one as well by taking our music directly to performers.
Next on Folio Publishing Cooperative…
Will our heroes arrive in Georgia safely?
And will anyone spend real money on their scores?