Donald Stark's Story

How To Compose Today

December 09, 2012

Lifelong friend Shaun McNally drew my attention to this empassioned, illuminating essay by Robert Beaser on how composing has evolved over the last few decades.


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Categories:   Commentary, Composers, Music education, Unified theory of music

Donald Stark's Story

To hear the world in a single note and heaven in a triad

November 19, 2012

Doesn’t it blow you away when someone sneaks into your brain and snatches your thoughts?  That’s what Tommasini did in his NY Times column yesterday. 
A single chord can knock you on your ass.  (How to break a heart with one chord.)  Even a single note.  (That growling bent E string in Jimi’s "House Burning Down" solo.) 
I’d love to know — what notes (or rests!) send you flying?

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Categories:   Commentary, Composers, Chopin, Mahler

Donald Stark's Story

May the best man wi… Oh, damn!

October 16, 2012

Gore Vidal wrote Best Man more than half a century ago, but the themes (political dirty tricks and smears, idealism vs cynicism) play out on today’s stage with eye-poppingly contemporary relevance.
At one point, crusty ex-President Hockstader mostly kiddingly quips, “Worst damn thing ever happened to this country, giving the women the vote.” 
I thought: Wow! The setting of this play (1960) is closer in history to before women had the right to vote than it is to today! 
Then I thought: Wow! Here we are today with candidates re-debating women’s right to chose, promulgating the notion that “legitimately raped” women are unlikely to get pregnant is science, and forcing these same rape victims to undergo invasive ultrasound probes purely for the pleasure of witnessing their humiliation and physical pain.
Then I thought: Hey!  This site’s supposed to be about music.  So… Come see the brilliantly directed (by Frank Licato), acted, and designed Best Man at the Summit Playhouse and hear the music I composed for it.

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Categories:   Commentary, Events

Donald Stark's Story
This is your brain on music.

Mammas Please Let Your Babies Grow Up to Play Cowbells

September 18, 2012

Corroborating what we already knew, Northwestern Professor Nina Kraus’s study found that kids who actively play the cowbell — (OK, synecdoche disclosure: She actually said “a musical instrument”) — have improved working memory, greater ability to disambiguate sound (like speech) and to make sound-to-meaning connection.  More:

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Categories:   Commentary, Music education