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Classical Notes

I'll be less distracting if I open this really slowly...

Posted at 3:08 PM on May 4, 2007 by Alison Young

Which instrument covers the sound of unwrapping candy wrappers? Or non-silenced cell phones competing with the symphony by blaring out their own tinny replacement? Or a whisper whose sibilance travels four aisles away? Or other basically ill-mannered, inconsiderate concert hall behaviors that have garnered another -ism in the lexicon of anger management: concert rage?

Alex Ross, the music critic of The New Yorker may have the been the first to use the term, but he suggests in his blog, "With marketers and educators trying desperately to bring classical music to broader audiences, it seems strange that the inner circles of the initiated are so determined to uphold a stifling code of silence."

And that's the tack a Georgia Tech composer named Jason Freeman has taken with his new work Flock that uses computers and "an adventurous saxophone quartet" to create a piece existing of the sounds, the fidgeting, the coughing, even the wandering about of concert goers to generate a piece of music. Like John Cage and other aleatoric composers who used chance as part of their subject, Freeman is exploiting the randomness of the moment for his art. But is it music? Well, I'd say it's probably a welcome diversion from the Chinese water torture tactics of a slowly opened crinkly candy wrapper obliterating Beethoven!