Last night I hosted a dinner party for the composition first years (Fernando, I can’t find a link for you!). The level of social grace was, for a sampling of composers, among the highest I’ve seen; it’s one thing to write cool music, quite another to interact in the real world. Though I would love to invite Frederic Rzewski over to dinner sometime. If by some chance you read this, Fred, you have a standing invitation.
Over the course of the meal, the question came up about whether we listen to our own music. This is an interesting corollary to the rhetorical question I posed a few months back about how many composers routinely listen to their colleagues’ music. I’ve always felt that I should listen, and want to listen, to my own music; if it’s not something that comes up regularly on my last.fm, do I really want to subject others to it? I do find myself listening to my cleaner recordings/performances, simply because they’re more flattering. I think what I’m doing, somewhat subconsciously, when I listen to my music, is refining my ideas and techniques in preparation for future pieces, so I can spend less time writing the same piece again and again. Andrew was on the other side; he said that he can’t stand to listen to his own music, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on. This usually happens to me only with older pieces (which is why I keep pruning my back catalogue).
Does this make me self-obsessed? Or worse, complacent? Please weigh in.