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received from chris brown on aug 16 1995 copyright 645w

EAR Mag questionair CHRIS BROWN 1951 Oak St. #4 SF, CA 94117 415-387-4087

( Best time for interview would probably be weekends after 10 AM or early evening on weekdays - my schedule varies so best to call first and set up a real time)

1. I compose because it feels great to really think, and then there's the pleasure of the completed work, and seeing what happens to it.

2. The purpose is to find out how it works, that is, how others respond to it while performing it or just hearing it.

3. I question if what I'm doing is really something new (is it doing something that hasn't been tried in the same way before), if the ideas in the piece grow out of each other, whether the thing has life, and whether it's going to be interesting to perform as well as to hear.

4. I aim for music that affects people, but not all in the same way. In general I want people to be entertained, but also to be shaken up.

5. Ideas either occur seemingly out of the blue, and need to be realized immediately (like tunes), or are the result of some excruciating process in which I've been engaged, and take eons to turn out. I like creating pieces that project an intimacy with raw material, which is why I like designing my own instruments. I'm inspired by unfamiliar music and languages, or by taking a vacation. I'm interested in using technology in ways that enhance the alive-ness of performance.

6. The discipline is to keep pursuing your own ideas, even when their relevance is not popularly reinforced. It also involves the consistency of effort required to develop technique.

7. I try not to consciously cultivate a style. I like to refer to musical styles, but not compose exclusively inside any one. My own style will accrue in retrospect, if it exists at all.

8. I usually compose at home by myself, in front of either a desk with notes on paper, in front of an acoustic piano, or in front of a computer; usually all of these are involved in a single composition.

9. Artists I admire are too many to be named - naming a few would necessarily leave out too many.

10. I can't really relate to myself "if I weren't an artist". There would always be some part of me that felt like one even if I weren't creating art works. I could see the necessities of living occasionally taking more time away from art work than it does now, as it has done in the past.

11. I currently earn my living primarily from teaching computers to artists at an art school. I have also tuned and repaired pianos and operated computers for a living. I've usually found a way to feed back the required experiences for making a living into some aspect of my art work.

12. The work itself is its own reward - I do it because it makes me feel good. Also, the reward is in finding out, sometimes after the fact, that others have gotten something out of it. And then, there's travel and having a connection with people whom you've never met before.

13. It must be important, but if I try to say why it is, then it stops being fun. Is fun important?

14. On the one hand, its a disaster - live musicians seem to be becoming extinct. Music in the U.S. as a career is death - banging your head against the studio/commercial scene for the privilege of canning and selling your creativity, beating dead warhorses into the ground as a classical musician, or starving as a creative one. On the other hand, there is life in the cracks.

15. I would choose to be a contrabass.


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