Articles

How Finding Your Bliss Can Pay The Rent - Be Kind

Six Keys to an Authentic Career in Music

There already exist many excellent reference books that provide constructive how-to manuals for musicians forging their own professional careers.  Less easily found are suggestions which help performing artists understand what attitudes, personality traits, and philosophical approaches best lend themselves to success.  After years of dedicated practice, many great talents sadly flounder due to the lack of such understanding.  Though some music schools now offer pragmatic coursework designed to teach promotional skills, it is rare that a student learns just how much character and outlook are going to influence his/her potential to thrive in our field. This article presents six clear and simple guidelines which illustrate some essential aspects of a healthy, productive career in music.

Forbidden Flutes

Melanesian and Amazonian Gender Ideologies
as Reflected in Various Flute Rituals

The flute's phallic image is obvious. Therefore, it follows that the myths and beliefs which have been derived from this instrument illustrate some fascinating parallels in gender conception cross-culturally. Specifically, throughout New Guinea and three Central Brazilian cultures, (Mundurucus, Kalapalo, and Kamayura), the flute is endowed with very similar powers and meaning. Each region considers their flutes sacred. They are stored in the men's homes and females are forbidden to see or play them. In the event that women disobey this order, they can be subject to gang rape or other punishment. Spiritual associations with this instrument are present in all but the culture of the Kalapalo Indians. Ancestral communication is often achieved through the music of flutes as well. However, most importantly, a gender power struggle is represented by the flute, the rituals, and the ceremonies in which the instrument is used. In examining the origin myths of the flute, as well as the instrument's function and symbology in those cultures, many conclusions about the roles of the sexes can be drawn.

The Ethics of Transcription in Music

Ferruccio Busoni's Notions of Musical Essence
Substantiated by Eastern Philosophies of a Unified Spirit

In this article, I draw upon parallels between composer/pianist Ferruccio Busoni’s notions of “musical essence” and the Buddhist belief in reincarnation in order to justify the ethics of transcription in classical music.  As a flutist who often arranges works composed for other instruments in an effort to expand my repertoire and expressive range, I seek to settle a widespread controversy amongst some classical musicians who believe that it is inappropriate to perform works in an instrumentation other than the original.  Primarily, I rebuke the idea that a composer should be endowed with sole “authorship” of a musical creation.  Instead, I propose that the source of inspiration for any musical composition comes from a universal “oneness” (Busoni’s “musical essence”)  By tapping into this source, each subsequent performer or transcriber can then represent this musical composition authentically.