At the beginning of 21st century, many of us are still grappling with the -isms of the last century – neo-classicism, neo-romanticism, minimalism, postminimalism, modernism, postmodernism, neo- modernism – let alone those of our own time.
With this in mind we thought we’d help guide you through the standout musical moments in 21st century composition so far.
Because you may be about as confused as we are. And we sympathise.
We have seen several trends emerge over the past decade and a half. Firstly, composers are more attuned to technology than ever before. A simple work for solo flautist now seems unusual – but rigging them up to a laptop or playing some pre-recorded audio is not. Composers have also stumbled their way onto the Internet and are more comfortable recording and distributing their own material online, even those you might associate more with pen and paper.
True to our ever-connected world, composers are sticking together. Collectives, collaborations and ongoing projects, even across continents, seem to be as popular as the idea of the great composer working in solitude. They’re also thinking more outside the box. There’s a growing return to thinking conceptually and contextually, much like the in the 1950s and 1960s. In the past year alone I’ve noticed music for hot air balloons, smashed violins, people shouting through the streets and recordings of empty rooms.
There remains a strong corps of musicians continuing the great canon of abstract artistic thought. But there’s equally as many who continue to tear down the imagined walls between popular and connoisseur cultures, mixing string quartets with DJs and bringing driving beats into the opera house. And there are many whose sonic thoughts find a natural home in the art gallery.