As Monotonous Forest marks a year today, I want to thank everyone reading and commenting, since "if a tree falls in the Forest, and no one is listening..." -- well, you get the idea. I also want to acknowledge Alex Ross, whose erudite and humorous The Rest is Noise is a model of "blogicity" (and inspired me to begin), and Steve Smith, whose tantalizing and beautifully written Night After Night makes me wish I could be about fifteen different people.
For those who have asked for more about the blog's title, it was inspired by a comment in 1964 by Dan Bennett (about whom I've been able to find very little, by the way) in The Saturday Evening Post: "How monotonous the sounds of the forest would be if the music came only from the Top Ten birds." I just love this, and find it commendable on so many fronts -- probably many more than Mr. Bennett intended. In the classical, "notated music" arena, if one were able to compile a list of the top ten composers (virtually impossible) and listened only to those, it would be quite a dreary landscape.
Every month -- often several times a week -- I encounter brand-new works, or those from the past, somehow overlooked. True: we all revisit things we enjoy, over and over. But if one partakes endlessly of Beethoven's (admittedly magnificent) Ninth Symphony, how will Janáček's equally magnificent Jenůfa squeeze its way in? Guilty pleasure: I like Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto as much as anyone. But if you never hear Ligeti's take on the genre, how can you know with certainty that you might not enjoy the latter even more? And never mind the thousands of young composers writing fascinating scores at this very moment -- no wait, let's mention a few: Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Michel van der Aa, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Philippe Bodin. They must be a bit discouraged when listeners unwittingly telegraph that all good music is at least 100 years old -- an odd message to send to any explorer, in any medium. Every era has its great artists, for those willing to make the effort to notice them.
So in 2007, if you haven't made a resolution to hear say, at least one piece of music a month that you've never heard before, take advantage of the mammoth river of concerts and recorded riches available -- eccentric trios and quartets, unusual ways of unleashing an orchestra, provocative operas, choral works that won't make you think of heaven or angels, and any number of other musics that defy categories, and get out there and hear some of it.