As you may have gathered from yesterday’s announcement, I am now a published composer. Semi-published, at any rate: six of my pieces are available from the new edition Project Schott New York. I’m excited for this not because I put great stock in “being published”(after all, Andres & Sons Bakery is a very reputable imprint) but because of just how PSNY is going about it.
I’m writing this, as usual, on my iPad, which has also become my preferred score-reading device. The problem is, it can be difficult to buy scores in digital form. Most public domain (“old”) music is easy to download, thanks to imslp.org, but perversely, the music of living composers is often only available through old-fashioned, ugly, messy, slow, expensive rentals. PSNY is the first well-done attempt I’ve seen to move music publishing into the present, and it’s incredibly simple: a list of composers, each with a selection of DRM-free PDFs to purchase and download—that’s it. Each piece has a score preview, and most have recordings (flash is, sadly, required). Right now I’m listening to Greg Spears’s ingenious string quartet Buttonwood. You can also order printed materials, though only in the US. Most of the repertoire is for solo and small chamber combinations, which is what makes the most sense to order digitally. Orchestral scores are tall and unwieldy and they’re going to need to make a much bigger iPad for that.
The website itself is quite nice as well. No clutter, no ads, simple navigation and structure. I do wish these search fields lined up perfectly (or even better, if there were just one search field that you could specifically narrow down). As it turns out, the PSNY identity is the work of David Rudnick, who I’ve known since he started the quite aesthetically pleasing Volume magazine in college.
I’ll be watching with great interest to see how PSNY fares. It’s a great step forward in making contemporary music more accessible.