Paul Lansky Quotes

Paul Lansky was a pioneering figure in the computer music field and wrote one of its important programs, Cmix.

“If the music has a logic of its own – as I think my music has – an open-minded listener will apprehend and understand.” – Paul Lansky

“I noticed things in my computer music that were getting old, and I started to figure out that this has to do with the way the listener interacts with music.” – Paul Lansky

“I think of myself as experimenting with different ways of structuring pieces. A lot of it has to do with the computer, of course.” – Paul Lansky

“The experimentation that I do has a lot to do with tunes and pitches and ways that melodies are put together.” – Paul Lansky

“I wrote a lot of software to do various kinds of special things, and I loved the idea of composing pieces in an electronic studio.” – Paul Lansky

“I think of myself as an experimentalist even though much of my music sounds logical and normal, in a sense.” – Paul Lansky

“I didn’t want my music to be seen as examples of an electronic culture; I just wanted them to be thought of as pieces of music.” – Paul Lansky

“I found myself recycling ideas and I saw that I had to invent reasons to compose a piece rather than start from some exciting idea.” – Paul Lansky

“I don’t think of my music as being about something.” – Paul Lansky

“Very often, when you’re listening to a piece for the first time, you’re listening through a model of other pieces that you know. At a certain point, a piece becomes idiosyncratic and you start to understand it on its own terms.” – Paul Lansky

“I think you’ll find a significant number of people who decide not to enter competitions because their music just won’t fit in that world.” – Paul Lansky

“I’ve had a lot of fun writing percussion music. It feels quite similar to writing computer music. But I found myself in the role of choreographer in a way, worrying about physical movement and such.” – Paul Lansky

“I can’t say that there’s a common practice that has to do with pitch language or with the way pieces are put together because today, anything is fair game. As far as I’m concerned, my own common practice is a piece that engages the attention of listeners from beginning to end, and doesn’t rely on or expect the listener to zone out.” – Paul Lansky

“I had been creating music on tape that was to be listened to as a recording, rather than through performance.” – Paul Lansky

“I don’t think there’s something that you have to ‘get’ with my music. It tends toward the dramatic side rather than the narrative.” – Paul Lansky

“Sometimes I imagine that there’s a binary division going on in contemporary practice that has to do with chromatic versus diatonic. I notice that I tend to listen in a diatonic sense, that I register a pitch as a member of a diatonic scale, even in a non-tonal context.” – Paul Lansky

“I came to what I think of as the critical problem: the aging process of a piece of music. I noticed in the ’70s that pieces I wrote would sound great the first time I listened to them and then on repeated hearings they sounded older and older until what seemed exciting and vibrant on first listening became stale.” – Paul Lansky

“Even today, I notice that some of my pieces are explicitly tonal; there are actually tonics and dominants. And then there are pieces that are not tonal. I tend to think that there’s a dichotomy that has to do with the way pitches are structured.” – Paul Lansky

“I never thought that I would write orchestra music, but in fact I did write a group of orchestra pieces.” – Paul Lansky

“My perspective on the academic world is very favorable. I did certain kinds of things that I could never have done otherwise.” – Paul Lansky

“With repeated listenings, a piece eventually becomes its own being. I very often say to students that this is like meeting a person for the first time. When you first meet someone, you reference that person with others who are similar; but, as you get to know that person better, you begin to understand his unique qualities.” – Paul Lansky

“When you have performers, there’s the uniqueness of live performance and what performers do in concerts.” – Paul Lansky

“With a piece of classical music by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven, on first listening I’m referencing it with other pieces by them that I know. I think that most people do this – they listen to pieces through the filter of pieces they already know.” – Paul Lansky

“I came up in the ’60s; that was a time when there was a revolution going on in music. Stravinsky had become a twelve-tone composer; even Aaron Copland was writing twelve-tone pieces at that time!” – Paul Lansky

“It’s always a thrill for me to see new versions of my pieces on YouTube.” – Paul Lansky

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