Coming Clean on Creative Collaborations — Things I Didn’t Know

Apr 1, 15 • 2 Comments

UPDATE: This was an April Fools’ Day post.  To the hundreds of you who read this post, thank you; to the dozens who’ve emailed, called and texted and offered support — thank you for playing! I’ve always believed that the 1st of April was the perfect day for deep personal reflection, aspirational idealism, and truth-rattling fiction. There’s absolutely no way I can stop collaborating for a minute –– everything in my vocabulary is the result of working together. Looking inward for inspiration, I see all of you. Happy April Fools’ Day, let’s do more!



Dear Friends,

After careful consideration, I’ve slowly come to the realization that all of my many collaborations — with filmmakers, dancemakers, and musicmakers — have been incredibly rewarding. At the same time, they are, in fact, quite literally killing my individual voice. It’s become nearly impossible to see and hear just who I am as a musician.

To make a point — this year, I’m scoring two documentaries –– one about a Georgian multimedia artist, the other about a Russian-Jewish writer; I also wrote a score to a short film about the Iranian Hostage Crisis; I’ve written a concert piece for a string quintet, and another commission for an oboe & bluegrass folktale; the string orchestra A Far Cry recently premiered my new commission, composed without any notes or rhythms whatsoever, and am presently working on a … well, I can’t tell you ––  oh, and I composed (and conducted) this semi-viral piece called “Signal Strength” for a “wifi orchestra” — but the point is —

I’m ashamed and admit to have no idea who I am artistically, and I work every day without knowing. All of my musical output so far reflects a complete cluelessness and disregard for a cohesive narrative and/or a wholesomeness. I have been passionate about not making choices, preferring instead to behave collegially.  I haven’t been writing music to cause a revolution — you could say I write music to repair the wounds.

You deserve better. You as a listener need to know what you’re going in for, and how it will proceed. You need to know where I stand on the issues, where I fit in on the spectrum. You need to understand not only the music, but also how it is perceived.

That’s why I announce that, as of today, I am not accepting new collaborations until further notice.   There is too much chatter in my head, too many clouds and too little clarity.   I crave time to turn inward, to clarify, define and sharpen my vision,  and how it appears to the world.

It is too sad to reflect on the state of things when my favorite original piece so far — my “Rosebud”, if you will ––  remains something I wrote while cutting a math class at LaGuardia High School — a piece titled “What Your Stomach Feels Like When You Eat School Food”. As you will note from glancing at this year’s growing “in 2015” compilation on soundcloud, this earlier composition remains without peer.

I am aware that growth will take time and effort, many drafts and revisions, and there is no hurry to release new material on my part — what you’ve heard of my music until now is simply slack, just rough sketches.

Please keep in touch — and once I’m ready to show my new voice, you will be the first to know.

Thank you as always for your support…

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2 Responses to Coming Clean on Creative Collaborations — Things I Didn’t Know

  1. Ron says:

    Happy April Fools Day! You ALMOST had me on this one!!!!

  2. Kela says:

    2nd try on this comment, let’s hope it goes through:
    In music there’s a spectrum that we all tend to fall on, either focusing more on the listening and interpreting side, or the expressing and creating side–and as you discuss in your post, creating in collaboration with others is often much more about listening to them and responding to their work than it is about listening to and expressing our inner voice. I tend to fall on the other side–focusing too much on my own stuff because I am already so complete with tons of projects to work on, and that can leave me feeling a bit off in my own world too much. Lately I’ve been taking a little bit of time each week to run through sight-reading pieces or learning changes for songs by other songwriters, just to stay in touch and not feel outside the circle too much. I don’t believe in “balance,” but just in flexing both sets of muscles, the receiving and the giving. All of that is just to say congrats on choosing to focus on listening to your inner musical self and exploring a new vista of expression.

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LJOVA (Lev Zhurbin) - film composer, arranger, violist | music for film, Ljova and the Kontraband, and other projects

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