Summer Update

Hey everyone!


A lot has happened in the *cough*several*cough* months since I've updated the blog. Here's what's new in my world:


  1. I completed a couple of works in short order for some competitions, including Reactions for stereo fixed media and Mnemosyne for SATB choir and piano.
  2. Reactions was selected for Musinfo's Art & Science Days in Bourges, France in June.
  3. Cassie and I took a massive 25-state road trip from Oklahoma to Montana by way of Maine.
  4. Remnants of Creation was presented at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival (NYCEMF).
  5. Caffeination was presented at the Great Plains Saxophone Workshop at OU in July.
  6. Reverie of Solitude was presented at the Australasian Computer Music Association's Sonic Environments conference in Brisbane, Australia.
  7. Reverie of Solitude was selected for performance on Radiophrenia (87.9 FM) in Glasgow, Scotland.
  8. Automation and Autonomy was selected for performance at the NoiseGate Festival in NYC in September, which is a joint effort of, among others, NYU and the UN Global Arts Initiative.
  9. Creatures from the Black Bassoon was selected for performance at the Diffrazioni Festival in Florence, Italy in October.

Meanwhile, I've written absolutely no music since June, and I'm starting to get antsy. So I have to go do that (and teach)

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Updated recording of Crosswinds

I've finally updated the reference recording of Crosswinds (with new and improved patch!) from Cassie's faculty recital at NDSU in March. It's up on the composition page, as well as here:


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Spring Cleaning

In the spirit of spring cleaning, I've taken several older and less popular compositions down on the Music page. Some are just early works that I don't need to advertise, and others just need some work. I'm also working on getting new recordings for some of the works, and of course better program notes all around (which is a work in progress).

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Remnants of Creation selected for 2016 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival

I posted this on Facebook a few days ago, but I finally got the Acceptance notification for NYCEMF this year!


Congratulations! I am writing to inform you that your submission below has been accepted for performance at the 2016 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival. The information we have for your piece is as follows:

ID-344 Remnants of Creation duration 10:00 2-channel fixed media
The festival will take place June 13-19, 2016 at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City. Concert schedules will worked out soon. The program will be posted to our web site,, when it is ready.

Please reply to this message indicating

(1) whether you will be able to accept our invitation,
(2) whether you are planning to attend the festival, and
(3) any limitations on the date when your piece could be scheduled.
Also, if you plan to attend, please let us know whether you would be interested in diffusing your piece in the 16-channel sound localization room.

Planning for the festival has been determined by the durations of pieces submitted, so please verify the duration indicated above. The duration of the piece will be shown in the printed program. If we do not have the final version of the media file(s) for your piece, please send them to using a file-transfer service no later than May 1, and please leave at least three weeks before the files expire.

We would like all participants to attend the festival, and the $160 registration fee includes admission to all events. Even if you cannot attend the festival, you will still be required to pay the registration fee. We will add a registration page to our web site to allow you to pay this amount by PayPal.

NYCEMF will provide a sound system, microphones, cables, and a computer for fixed media playback. All other equipment required for live pieces (computer, audio interface, specialized MIDI/USB peripherals, etc.) will need to be provided by the composer. Speakers locations in our playback spaces will be fixed and cannot be moved between concerts to accommodate alternative schemes.

We have arranged for a limited number of housing spaces during the festival at New York University dormitories. The cost for these spaces 
 will be significantly less than hotels in the city, and they will only be available for specific dates. Details will be posted on our web site, and reservations must be made for each individual day that you will stay there.

We look forward to seeing you in June!


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A hypothetical outline of an artist-corporation

I've been thinking about a lot of things recently. Some of these things involve higher ed in these United States, especially the rise of “quit lit” (including this article on Vox that you've probably read that still keeps me thinking), alt-ac careers, the value of the liberal arts and humanities, and my own alma mater cutting 12 full time faculty contracts. I've also thought a lot about the situation with tenure at Wisconsin, and how that relates to the magazine that I put together this past summer (but that's another blog post entirely). Also rattling around my brain is the future of NoteForge, and just where Liszt (my school of music management software) is going.

Combined with these thoughts is the fact that I find myself surrounded by brilliant people. Many of them are in music, but all of them have talents outside their major field. And all of that led me to this thought experiment, which very well may be a bad idea.

Let's create a hypothetical company. We'll give it a fancy name, say, Atelier LLC. Atelier, like NoteForge, is primarily a software and technology company, with a flagship product that, I don't know, runs nonprofits or something of that nature. We have to staff this company somehow, and how do we do that?

Let's take a diversion for a moment. The US doesn't do a great job of supporting artists. Part of this is cultural, in that we haven't agreed on what the value of art is and we don't have a history of patronage like most of Europe does, another part is political in that the government have a priority of funding the arts. (Other parts, as well as whether this should or should not be the case is beyond the scope of this exercise). This is the world we find ourselves in for better or worse. Meanwhile, in academia, professors are afforded a certain percentage of their workload for teaching and a certain percentage for research or creative activity. Let's also throw in there the fact that (I would guess) the majority of artists that are serious about their art and are able to pursue it are working part-time jobs, either because they have to, or because they want to keep part of their time open to creating.

So back to Atelier. The powers that be there assume that all of the above is true. And so they decide to try a radical change to the standard work division. Even though all of the employment opportunities at Atelier are full time, 40-hour jobs with benefits, an full half of those 40 hours are reserved for creative activity. It's similar to Google's 20% rule that allows employees to explore other projects 20% of the time, but with the goal being the creation of art and the development of the artist rather than the creation of new technologies. In this case, Atelier's mission is shifted toward the goal of enriching artists that can hone their craft and eventually become self-sustaining artists rather than the goal of “make lots o' money”.

There are immediate theoretical issues with Atelier's theoretical employment plan. The first is that with a workforce that is only devoting 50% of their time and energy to the company, the workforce will need to be twice as large as competing companies to make the same impact. Atelier, as a software company, solves part of this problem by systematizing many functions in their own corporate software application, maintaining a flat organization, and keeping a close eye on the bureaucracy. Additionally, it is likely that a company that actively works to promote its employees creative success will produce happier, creative employees.

Secondly, there is an obvious issue with the possibility that employees would be hired and would proceed to not develop (as expected) as an artist. This would unfortunately require the use of annual or semiannual reviews where the employee's progress as an artist would be evaluated, primarily in the terms of the amount of artistic output, which I'm not crazy about. Requirements governing artistic output would need to be created and integrated, and although the management at Atelier isn't interested in saying what is and isn't art, the company is interested in saying which sort of art they will or will not fund the creation of.

Technically speaking, all of the works created through the Atelier 50% plan could be considered “works for hire” with copyright assigned to the company, but the employment contracts go to great pains to lay out that this is not the case, that intellectual property rights for the art remains with the employee, while the intellectual property rights for the software remain with Atelier.

The eventual goal of a job at Atelier is that an employee/artist is given the opportunity to sharpen their skill through the 50% plan, becoming an artist in their own right, and leaves the company. But what if it doesn't work out that way? What if, after a span of five, seven, ten years, an artist shows no signs of being self-sufficient. Do they continue working at Atelier, or are they released from service? This is a point that Atelier hasn't yet figured out. On one hand, the point is to create self-sufficient artists, but this will be problematic if the company is too successful at creating those artists and there is no linearity to the workforce, that is, no one with years of experience is around to keep the workflow and work ethic consistent and evaluate the process from a historical standpoint.

I have no idea if it would work. I like to think that it would, that if you started a company and got a group of like-minded, creative, brilliant people together, took care of them, and asked them to create stuff for you and stuff for them, that you'd be amazed with the results.

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Kyle Vanderburg