Today another student asked me what I was doing at ICMC. I told him that I had a piece in the listening room. He asked me if I was a composer or researcher. I told him that I was predominantly a composer. He then proceeded to ask me, “What differentiates you and your music from all the other composers here.”
That was a great question. Never in my life have I been asked what separates me from the rest of the pack. I was completely flummoxed. I had no answer. What does make my music better or worthwhile?
I of course botched it up. I mumbled something about how I was from a place with little support for the higher arts and that I tried to convey aspects of my homeland and my upbringing in my music. My home in West Virginia is very important to me, and a big sense of inspiration to my growth as a creative artist. In response, he asked if I sampled cows mooing or something.
How can you express that you hail from one of the most beautiful places in the world? Or that you live in a place where spirits still roam and folk traditions live deep? Or even that you were fortunate enough to have two parents who support you no matter what you are doing in life. Even if I could, I don’t think that that was the best answer.
The correct answer, as I now realize, should have been, “My music speaks for itself.” After all, everything I just said above lives in the music.