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What Does it Mean to be a Composer in the 21st Century? (COMP*LEX NO. 1)



Dedicating ones life to the creative arts in any genre is laden with the

intrinsic difficulties of winding one’s way through the influence of time past, but I find that approaching the post-modern ethos of modern art making requires more care than the broad stroke of any single label.


The all-encompassing influence of a Capitalist or Authoritarian economic and political structure, the acceleration of technology with the newfound possibility of living one’s whole life with access to the internet/technology and the effects of the age of information on the physical and mental well being of the artist all together paint a more inclusive picture of the unique and evolving difficulties thrust upon artists.

I start here with myself, sitting within and reflecting upon my journey over the past year. One year ago in May of 2019, I was immobilized and unable to work due to the single worst anxiety ridden episode of my short life thus far, resulting in the loss of composition and performance opportunities as well as personal progress as a composer and performer. One year later I am humbled and privileged to have had a successful season as a composer and performer in London, after having worked everyday to the fullest of my ability since that point last year in order to restore my well-being into a place of calmness and control.


What I find while reflecting in this headspace, though, is the heightened awareness of how my compositional process was affected by the extension of these internal impediments into my creative ability and physical well-being, and while doing so increasing my mindfulness towards external factors which may influence my daily rhythm and process. What I also may reflect on mentally and physically is how composition transformed into a cathartic resource once more after channeling this displaced emotional confusion and fear within myself into a mindful approach towards everyday well-being.


Well all of these things have me thinking, what does it truly mean then to be a Composer in the 21st Century? A music making machine, a gear within a marketplace, a publishing house and businessperson, a martyr, a politician, an activist, a library of knowledge, a liver of multiple lives? Where does it end, and where it may start have no one answer, but in short: its complex. And I would like to share my journey, so that is what I plan on doing.


This is COMP*LEX, a series dedicated to brutally honest, incredibly specific, and nothing less than real events from my life which I think are worth sharing. Much like with the music for the Aphoria Library, I wish I had encountered the material which I hope to share when I first found myself needed it, so that is what I hope to do here :)


Until then my piece 'TORSO' was just recorded by the Janáček Filharmonie in Czechia, so I think its time for a little celebration 💥 💥


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©2020, John Franek.