Why I started LandscapeMusic.org

I’ve composed many works of music inspired by paintings and drawings of landscapes by artists from Thomas Cole to Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ve gradually been writing more and more works inspired by my direct experiences of nature, parallel with and/or unrelated to interpretations by visual artists. I’ve come to realize that what I’ve been striving to achieve is the sonic equivalent of what visual artists accomplish with landscape art. I coined the term “Landscape Music” to communicate this ideal and philosophy.

At the same time, I’ve noticed several other composers who have been approaching a similar ideal from different aesthetic angles or perspectives. With the creation of this website, I seek to investigate work being done in this vein and to explore commonalities, divergences, exciting new developments, unexplored potentials, and possibly to derive some general principles or practices relating to this idea of musical landscapes.

Music inspired by nature, in my view, should never be taken as an objective representation of the natural world through sound, or even a way to concretely evoke a world beyond human experience. I argue instead that the creation of music inspired by nature is an inherently humanistic act that simultaneously affirms the intrinsic value and importance of the non-human natural world to the human experience.

The perception that a particular melody played on the flute signifies or “captures” the experience of sunlight filtering through the leaves of a tree, for example, inevitably has far more to do with the composer and/or the listener than it does with sunlight or trees themselves. This does not devalue the flute melody, however: a musical idea can be a conduit for communicating, understanding, and encapsulating human experiences of the natural world.

Because of my own background, and an awareness of the established tradition of music inspired by landscapes in Western classical music, this publication will inherently be biased towards music created by “composers” within the tradition of “classical,” “concert music,” or “New Music.” That said, I hope this website will encompass music created within other genres and perspectives (jazz, rock, pop, “folk” music, musical traditions from other regions of the world, etc) that similarly seek to express experiences of landscape, nature, and sense of place.

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  1. Pingback: Landscape Music | Oregon ArtsWatch

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