New Music (with the capital letter “N” indicating contemporary classical music…) grapples with broad public ignorance and clichés of solitary self-indulgent composers writing scores that sound like noise to the rest of the world. The film (UNTITLED) plays with these clichés and centers its story around young composer Adrian who falls in love with a super attractive gallerist and changes his musical style through his engagement with the ‘real world’. Bang On a Can member David Lang wrote the score for this movie after he convinced the director to not only use his piano piece “WED” when the main character falls in love but to let Lang compose music for several other scenes. In an interesting interview on Sequenza21 Lang speaks about how he supported the change in the character of the contemporary music composer during the film:
“The progression of the character musically is that he begins by making music only for himself, because that is how large his world view is; when he meets the girl his senses and optimism and maybe even his idea of audience expand, and his music changes accordingly.”
Sometimes I feel that certain New Music composers still linger in their own world and the one of the surrounding art scene. If we see music composition from the perspective of a means of communication as Lang does in the interview, the question is how much do certain composer really want to communicate. David Lang is certainly a composer who does have a sense for communicative music. You can comfirm this impression by listening to his Pulitzer Prize winning piece “The Little Match Girl Passion” on the website of Carnegie Hall Commissions.