LandscapeMusic.org, which hosts online publication Landscape Music and the affiliated Landscape Music Composers Network, was founded in January 2015 by composer and multimedia artist Nell Shaw Cohen.
To learn more about what “Landscape Music” is and why it exists, read Nell’s posts: Why I started LandscapeMusic.org; “Landscape” and the role of art in our understanding of nature; and why Landscape Music is more important than ever.
The overarching goals of this website are:
1) To provide a platform for work we’ve identified as Landscape Music. We profile a curated selection of contemporary music that embodies or relates to the idea of Landscape Music. We examine how contemporary composers and musicians are using music to evoke landscapes, nature, and place, and provide a dedicated venue for these ideas.
2) To investigate, discover, and create a focal point for activities within Landscape Music. Music inspired by nature is a centuries-old phenomenon, but it hasn’t really been identified as a genre or pursued as movement in itself. We hope to raise the profile of the aesthetics, methods, and philosophies associated with Landscape Music and to build an online community around it.
Some of the primary themes and questions we aim to address are:
1) How does music, an “abstract” art form, evoke or relate to experiences of nature? The answer to this question will change depending on who you ask and which music you ask it about. However, it’s a question that must at least be acknowledged and can be tackled through explorations of individual works of music, seen through the eyes of artists and listeners.
2) Investigations into our cultural inheritance of allusions to the natural world in music. What motivated composers of the past to evoke nature in music from madrigals to film scores? How do these motivations relate to today’s cultural conceptions of nature? Why are certain kinds of musical ideas so strikingly evocative of imagery and experiences relating to nature? What makes them effective? What are the cliches? What are the unexplored potentials?
3) The subversive implications and aims of Landscape Music. Investing time and energy into activities that are not economically productive may be seen as inherently subversive acts in a society driven by money and the utilization of time and effort towards material production and growth. Such activities may include creating music for noncommercial purposes; listening to music for spiritual, emotional, or intellectual reasons; and pursuing contemplative or aesthetically-oriented experiences in nature.
Woven throughout the content on this website are questions of how art and artists can have a positive effect on society by promoting and embodying ideas and activities that draw peoples’ attention away from the dominant narrative of earning and consuming material goods, by directing it towards emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic enrichment, through empathy with and awareness of other living beings and the non-human physical world.
About Nell Shaw Cohen
Editor-in-Chief, Landscape Music Online Publication
Founder & Director, Landscape Music Composers Network
Brooklyn-based composer, librettist, and multimedia artist Nell Shaw Cohen (b. 1988), a native of San Francisco, CA and Sag Harbor, NY, writes lyrically expressive, visually evocative music for chamber ensembles, orchestra, and voice. Cohen is a 2015-17 Composers & the Voice Fellow with American Opera Projects and the recipient of a 2016 Artist Residency Grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. Her chamber opera Mabel’s Call has been featured at the Harwood Museum of Art and on AOP’s Six Scenes opera showcase. As founder and director ofLandscape Music, an online publication and affiliated Composers Network, Cohen advocates for music inspired by nature, landscape, and place.
The JACK Quartet, WordSong, and members of The Chelsea Symphony and A Far Cry, among many others, have performed Cohen’s music in museums, concert halls, theaters, festivals, and salons. Cohen was 2013-14 Composer-in-Residence with the New York University Symphony, which commissioned and premiered her tone poem Point Reyes from Chimney Rock at the Skirball Center. Her chamber monodrama The Coming of Spring received a workshop staging in NYC in 2014. Her multimedia concerts combining visual art with video and music have been featured at the Parrish Art Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, and New England Conservatory.
Cohen has also designed and developed unique media projects, including interactive installation for web and iPad app Explore John Muir’s Yosemite, and produced more than 60 videos on multidisciplinary arts topics. The Boston Globe described her project Beyond the Notes: Music Inspired by Art as “far more extensive than the usual site devoted to an event or artwork…[with] loads of information connecting the music and art.” Cohen has received several grants from NEC and NYU for her digital projects and earned an Advanced Certificate from NYU in educational media.
As a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts Scholar, Cohen completed a Master of Music (GPA 4.0) at NYU, where she studied with Herschel Garfein, Missy Mazzoli, and Julia Wolfe. Cohen received her Bachelor of Music with Honors (GPA 3.99) from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Michael Gandolfi and John Mallia was awarded the Presser Scholar Award and Chadwick Medal.
Please email Nell Shaw Cohen if you have any questions or comments about this website or if you are interested in contributing content.