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Understanding Music

I came across these two articles in the past couple of weeks.  The first article suggests why happiness is associated with major keys and sadness with minor, and the second discusses a book that proposes atonal music is more difficult to understand due to a lack of easily identifiable patterns.

This makes me wonder about my role as a performer/composer working in a post-modern idiom.  Much of the music I play and write eschews major/minor tonality and the kinds of structural patterns that are easy to identify.  It seems, then, that the music is undeniably less accessible.  Does that make it less worthwhile to perform or write?

The first concert

The first performance of Grocery Store Sushi took place at the Bloomington School of Music on New York’s upper west side.  It was an unusually warm evening for September and there was no air conditioning. Grocery Store Sushi 


Christopher wrote this piece in 2007-08.  Ideally, it should be realized in four channels.  Unfortunately, this is a stereo mix.  The basis for the piece is a low b sampled from a trombone.  This sound sample was then manipulated in a variety of ways to create what you will hear.11-suson-1

Just what is Grocery Store Sushi?

In this context Grocery Store Sushi is a new music project conceived by myself.  It was spawned by a late night visit to a grocery store in Inwood.  It was about 11:30pm and I needed a little extra fuel to continue practicing.  Immediately in front of me as I entered the store was a refrigerated unit containing prepackaged sushi.  I thought to myself, “Sushi sounds good.”  Closer inspection, however, revealed that the sushi was of inferior quality.  This spawned another thought along these lines: sushi is considered by some to be an art form and our consumerist society has corrupted it through mass marketing, a fate also shared by many other products and services in today’s market.  As a reaction against this perceived corruption Grocery Store Sushi was born.  Its intent is to bring art music to as many people as will listen to it without corrupting the product in the process.  I have been joined in this endeavor by Christopher Jette, composer; Andrew Kozar, trumpet; Phillip Everall, bass clarinet; and William Lang, trombone.

Christopher Jette in the grocery store where the idea was born

Christopher Jette in the grocery store where the idea was born