>> from the library ofcongress in washington, dc. >> larry appelbaum: hi. my name is larry appelbaum from themusic division here at the library of congress, and i'm pleased to sayjoining us is composer, arranger, band leader, maria schneider. nice to see you again. >> maria schneider: good to see you. >> larry appelbaum: yeah, wespent some time this morning going through some treasures in thecollection, jazz and otherwise.
i want to -- i want you to tellour viewers what made an impression on you? what resonated? what moved you? >> maria schneider:it's just for me, i love seeing what acomposer puts to paper, seeing what their process is, imagining the thoughtgoing down on the paper. and, you know, for years,i was a music copyist,
and i still write in pen and pencil. and i always enjoyed the -- seeingmaybe even the speed and the -- the confidence which you can seesomebody put down their ideas or -- the bartok we looked at today whereyou could see -- actually, you know, he was making his own bar linesdown and the score and everything and you see he did it from thehospital, writing concerto for -- >> larry appelbaum: orchestra. >> maria schneider: -- orchestra. >> larry appelbaum: yeah.
>> maria schneider: andyeah, it was just fun. and i enjoyed also seeing someof the letters, because i am one of those people that's veryinterested in the person and the relationshipsand everything that makes up who they are as a musician. i never think even in my own music, i don't think of writingmusic as music. to me, music is a conduit forlife and so knowing and the fact that you have these archivesand knowing a little bit
about these people's livesthrough letters and things like that just enriches it. it's -- >> larry appelbaum: when's thelast time you wrote a letter? >> maria schneider: anactual handwritten letter? i send postcards and letters still. >> larry appelbaum: oh really? >> maria schneider: yeah. >> larry appelbaum: wonderful.
>> maria schneider:i mean, mostly email, but if there's somebody i reallywant to write something too, i'll still put it in apostcard or a card, yeah. >> larry appelbaum: nowyou mention the bartok. that was a commission. it was from the mid-1940s --i think 1943 he finished it. you -- you've undertakena commission for the library's concert this week. i want you to tell us a littlebit about that commission.
have you finished it? >> maria schneider: yes,yes, i finished, although -- although, you know,we're rehearsing. and for me, peter sellarsyears ago -- peter sellars commissioned meto write something for my band. >> larry appelbaum: the director. >> maria schneider: yes. >> maria schneider:yeah, the director, yes, for the mozart festival in vienna.
and i wrote a piece -- actually,we're going to close our concert with called cerulean skies. and when we premieredit, you know, i was -- you know, it's always a little bitof a work in progress, so, you know, i always end up doing editing. so -- and he said, maria,the premiere is never quite, you know, where it's going to be. it's the first act andthen you do, and so, i hope we're goingto be okay, you know?
but it's scary because i did it, something that's alittle bit unusual. it has different kinds ofgestures and rhythmic things that the band is playing that iam just indicating with my body. the piece is called datalords, and it's piece that's about this seduction of all of usthrough actually the use of music and video and all thesethings that people -- that corporations like youtubeand google use to draw eyeballs so that they can gatherdata and turn it into money.
and these big data companiesi see them that they are now like data lords and weare kind of the serfdom. and it's just taking so much. it's literally just suckingthe life out of our economy, our music economy and alsoout of i think a certain -- it's the total opposite of what wedid today, that thing of looking at the real thing, the pencil to thepaper, the thing that the paper made as opposed to this sort ofplasticized, digitized thing that just is churned out.
it's like force-feeding, youknow, yourself at the, you know, the trough or somethinglike that -- the trough -- you know the fast food -- i mean that's how peopleare getting their music. and so it's this idea thatwe're all just giving this away and this intelligence of this thing because of all this data isgetting bigger and bigger, and they know that thereis a point at which that intelligence will become morethan ours, that it will know more.
we're already at the point wherethat data turns into knowledge about people and diseaseor certain things, and they don't even reallyunderstand what those things are, but that they can predictthings because of all that data. so anyway, this is a piecethat has -- it has -- i don't know if you'd callit some beauty but seduction, but then it kind of overtakes you. so there's these gesturesof the band doing like [makes musicalsound], you know.
so we're still -- we'restill getting that, you know. it's a little bit of a dance. so hopefully we'll be well-prepared. it's a little intimidatingwhen you say bartok's concerto for orchestra was commissionedby the library of congress. >> larry appelbaum:well, it's all music. well, that it is. >> larry appelbaum: yes. so in an era of data lords,what happens to artists' rights?
>> maria schneider: well, there'sbeen this kind of wholesale idea fed to artists which artists hadbought into for decades and decades that exposure at allcosts; you know, i don't really carewhat the contract says. i don't really understand it. i just want to getmy music out there. and so of course somethinglike youtube uses that. hey, look at all theexposure you're going to get. so, you know -- so we've socompletely overexposed ourselves,
and then they've nowcreated this culture. they make it so easy to put thingsup -- difficult to take it down -- impossible to takeit down effectively. google, you know, you can't keepup with the bittorrenting and, you know, the torrentsites and all these things. and so they purposely don't askquestions when you upload it. when you take it down, you getasked all sorts of questions. and so what was your question again? i forgot what was the --
>> larry appelbaum: oh,about artists' rights -- >> maria schneider: ohthe artists' rights. >> larry appelbaum: -- [inaudible]. >> maria schneider: so there'sno -- there are no rights there. i mean there's no lawholding them accountable for inducing this infringement. they monetize it through ads. it doesn't come to themusicians, and it's -- there's such an erosion of rights.
i mean most artists that i know noware telling me that their royalties and things from their varioussources are about ten percent of what they were andit is that bad. it is really that bad, so, yeah. >> larry appelbaum:is it impacting you -- >> maria schneider: absolutely. >> larry appelbaum: -- directly? >> maria schneider:well, in different ways. i notice the impact definitely onmy performance royalties like the --
you know, the -- becausenow what's happening, it used to be thatmusic had a value. music had a value. we said it costs this muchto make music, make a record, we're going to price thisrecord at such and such. you know, this is what it costs. >> larry appelbaum: so doesthis impact you directly? >> maria schneider: it'simpacted me in a very big way and it shaped the wayi do things now.
so, one of the things that aregoing on is that it used to be that people set their price,like this shirt, you know. what does it cost for the materials? what does it cost to make it? the store that buys the shirtpays that to the manufacturer, the designer or all thosethings and then sells the shirt. when you buy the shirt,they aren't -- they're pricing according to whatthey have to pay for that shirt. so now in the music businesswith streaming and everything,
what's happening -- and thegovernment is setting some of these standards that it just tome -- it does not make sense at all. they are paying musiciansfor the music. they're paying for the music. the creator, the performers,everything are being paid according to a percentage of thenet profit of a company, what they say theirprofit is or isn't. so a company like spotify ispaying, you know, is saying, well this is all the moneywe have to divvy out,
so you get 0.0007 centsfor a stream. you know, where -- imean that's just insanity because i know what itcosts to produce a record. for me to produce one of myrecords costs about 200,000 dollars. you're never going to pay for thatstream and you're never going to pay through that -- throughany of these things. so, years ago alreadyin 2003, you know, just when the file sharing thingwas starting, before anybody talked about crowd funding, fanfunding, it didn't exist.
it was invented by this guy, briancamelio who started artistshare. and he came to me one day becausehe knew i was frustrated already with the record model, which alsohad a very historically has had very, you know, eschewed waysof calculating recruitment. it's always been like that. it's like a credit card company. you know, you just, youcan never really get ahead of that credit card debt, andthat's how they treated, you know, the price of making a record.
so this guy came tome and said, what's -- and this is what we discussedtoday looking at the archive -- the archive -- yourarchive shows process and shows the creative process. so brian said to methis day, he said, i came up with an incredible idea. he said, what's the onething nobody can file share? i -- i don't know. seems they can file share anything.
he said, the creative file process. he said, i'm going to design awebsite where you can say to people, hey, preorder -- you know,we can bring in people on different levels fan funding. he called it fan funding. and they turned it -- people calledit crowd funding, but we just sort of privately we're doing this. so brian said, i'll call it fanfunding and we will get people to preorder and we will throughmy site, document the process.
show your creative process video ofhow you write putting up sketches, you know, so that people candownload them and have access to that, so that the fan feelslike they're getting more than just getting a record. they can't get that when theyjust file share or something, and it's developingthis relationship. on top of it, i am setting myown price and here's the thing that gets away fromthe data lord thing -- data lords own all the data.
nobody else does. we just give it away forthe convenience and the joy of gorging ourselves in all thismusic that we take in so much that we don't evenreally take it in anymore. in the case of this, i'msetting my own price. i know what it costs and i'mmaking the lion's share of gross without all these -- so i'm -- i've been doing this nowand developing a fan base and an archive, a massivearchive of interviews and --
i go back and look at metalking about my creative process for a commission i did, you know,through my website years ago, and i'm like, oh wow, yeah,i went through that too. yeah, that thing i'm talkingabout with data lords, oh yeah. i was really scared forthat premiere too, you know. so -- and it's even fun forme to see my own process. so it's very much -- it's my ownlittle mini-at home artistshare library of congress. and so that has largely -- forme, it's largely protected,
and i wish every artist would dothat because this business out there like the streaming andeverything, they are nothing. they are absolutelynothing without the music if musicians didn't give awaythe rights, if they didn't sign and if they weren't signedon with these companies that have now joined the data lords. so, you know, the biggest recordcompanies like universal, warner -- universal, warner, sony, theyall took equity in spotify. but spotify is not inthe music business.
spotify is in the data business. so, they use music as thecarrot to draw the eyeballs, to gather the data to getthe advertising, you know -- i forget, i have to ask somebody. there's a statistic of the vast, vast majority of their employeesare data analytic scientists. you know, they're notin the music business. so, this is, you know -- this iskind of what we're all up against, and if musicians said, no.
i'm taking it back, theywould -- they would crumble. they would crumble. the only ones maybe that wouldn'tis youtube that somehow, you know, the government kind of seems sofar and hopefully they're going to change the safe harbor provision of the digital millenniumcopyright act, maybe that's going to get changed. and they'll start saying, hey,if you induce this infringement, you know, if you're basically like adrug pusher on the street, you know,
or just one, you know, just put upone -- one little video, you know -- >> larry appelbaum:first one's free. >> maria schneider:yeah, first one's free. you know and it is kind of that bag, they have this copyright basicsvideo that is just like -- it's just -- it's just-- it's unthinkably bad. it's ridiculous. so anyway, we'll see whathappens, but, you know, no one can count on government.
we -- i have to tell youone thing that we started. a group of us in new york startedsomething called musicanswers -- musicanswers.org. it's grassroots, and ouridea was that we want to start educating musicians tothese issues, waking them up. it's like, hey folks. for a century now, we've allbeen sleeping and now, i mean, the alarm bells weregoing off before. now it's like out of control.
time to wake up, knowwhat's going on. we could have examples up ofeverything that should always be in a publishing contract,everything that should never be in a publishing contract,everything that should always be in a record contract, and we --we're getting all these endorsers, everybody from all over the musicbusiness, everybody from carol king to -- to herbie hancock to steve rayto students, so that everybody says, hey, you know what, we -- what wedo is an -- is an asset, and what -- i -- i have to tell you just a --
tell you a little bitabout the public. so we had a concert the othernight, and we -- my band -- i mean these players,they're just so extraordinary. it's a little, you know -- it's a lifetime of obsession to become a playerlike these guys play. every day the investment andthe time, the self-criticism, the study, the -- it's incredible. what they represent is unbelievable.
so we did a concert andthe audience loved it -- standing ovation afterwards. this woman -- we had areception, and this woman, and i think she wasone of the people that help give moneyto the concerts. so a wonderful woman comes up toscott robinson, and she says -- she said -- she said, do youknow that was just marvelous. my friends and i sat there and wehad the best time trying to figure out what all of yourprofessions were.
and one of the guys wassitting next to scott and he said -- he wasstanding there. he said, he's a madscientist, and she said, i thought you were a scientist,and scott was just like, wow. he said, lady, youjust made my journal. you know, but this is -- thisidea that people have out there that music is just something. it just sort of comes and wejust kind of do it on the side, and then i -- i guess the rest
of the time we're doingsomething else, you know. i guess people just don't realizethat it requires more dedication than anything else can, you know. >> larry appelbaum:and -- and commitment. >> maria schneider:commitment and loss. >> larry appelbaum: think of -- think of all the musiciansi your orchestra, many of whom have beenwith you for 25 years. >> larry appelbaum: that'sa serious undertaking.
>> larry appelbaum: you investtime, resources and it's worth it, because look what comesout the other end. they're an evolution of somethingthat you could never force and put -- you know, all thismusic has evolved slowly over time, the sound of the band, that'skind of what i'm talking too with premieres and everything --all these things they have a process and the longer -- george wein, ihad dinner him not that long ago, and he was saying, maria, he said,you're one of the few musicians that sticks together with a group.
and he said nobody doesthat anymore, and he said, that's why it's got that soundand everybody develops in jazz. what's so great is when you havethat, then you have that trust. everybody knows each other so well. and what that means is thenyou can take more risks, because when you play, youcan throw something out there and everybody knows, everybodyhas each other's back and knows -- and they know my music so well thatthey know kind of the outer limit. they compress it to see if theycan still create the overall sense
of inevitability, and that's whati'm always looking for in a piece -- that the whole thing hasa sense of inevitability, but is filled with surpriseand for all of us, you know, and the unexpected risk taking. and that's the benefitof having musicians. you work with that bond. you get that. >> larry appelbaum: it'sintriguing to know the dedication and commitment of yourmusicians to the orchestra.
but there's also a level ofdedication and commitment on the part of the audienceto investing in your process. >> larry appelbaum:and they feel finally that it's not somecorporate entity who's giving or selling them a commercialproduct. >> larry appelbaum: they actuallyfeel a part of that process. >> maria schneider: yeah, yeah, it-- so when we did our first project, the first artistshare project, itwas my record concert in the garden which to this day is record thatmaybe most kind of hits my heart.
there was some -- there were alot of things about that record that were powerfulswitchovers for me. and then add with theartistshare thing, you know. and we won a grammy, and it wasthe first grammy that was won by somebody only sellingon the internet, and we didn't even realize it tosay it at the time because it was so early, we almost didn't evenreally know what we had started. but it was the firstfan-funded grammy. i'm absolutely sure of it.
so, you know, that -- thatrecord after that won a grammy, i started getting all these emailsfrom people saying, you know, it's crazy, but i feelreally proud of this. and i know i wasn'tpart of the music, but somehow i felt like i was. and that is what we wanted isthat everybody they felt like -- and when i made that record even inthe graphics on one of the booklets, i had the names of all thehigh participants mixed in with the players in theband, as if to say, we all --
>> larry appelbaum: right. >> maria schneider: we areall this music together. we all make this together. we cannot do this alone. yeah, most those people still arecoming back and commissioning works through the site, andit's -- it's great. and as an artist, italso feels really good to be supportive that way. it's like -- it is like the oldpatron thing a little bit too.
it's nice. >> larry appelbaum: so ifit's a model that works, why don't more people join? >> maria schneider: i think fora lot of musicians a long -- for a long time, there --there was this ego attachment. there was one -- i remember davidsanborn talking to me about it. it's an ego attachment tothat record label name, you know, the "i'm on warner. i'm" -- maybe there was somethingto that, and i think the idea
of doing these things, youknow, doing the documentation. but i think more and morepeople now are realizing as everything, you know. it's like -- have you everwatched a spider suck the life out of an insect in a web? >> larry appelbaum: not lately. >> maria schneider: well,i have when i was a kid. we used to every once in a while,we had a window, and there was -- i remember one night, my sister waswatching out the window this spider,
and so my mom got us all there. and i remember seeing thatspider just suck the life -- and that's what -- that'sthe image i always get of what this is doing to musicians. it's just sucking thelife out of them. i mean, the copyright reportfrom the office of copyrights that they did, going around,studying, you know, what -- how the dmca is affecting people. and they said 80 percent of thesong writers in national have quit.
so this is like, you know -- thisis just an astounding figure. so i think as moreand more people start to realize what they're givingaway, they're going to realize that self-ownership is reallykey and owning ones' own data. i mean, people arejust really behind. they're just starting to wake up. and i've noticed -- i mean brianwas just way ahead of his time. that -- i think that'sthe main thing. but i think people are waking up
and i think it is goingto start to happen. he just started somethingcalled fan funded. it's going to be likefor the masses. it's kind of like artistsharea little, you know, but a little easier and notrequiring quite so much -- doesn't give quite thebenefit that i have, but i -- i am hoping that more and morepeople are going to do this. i love the idea about the musicindustry basically being the music industry, you know, beingthe people that make it
and owning our own stuffand taking control again. it's this, i don't know. it could really -- there couldbe a critical mass change over that could reallychange things for the better and requiring transparency. transparency is so key. >> larry appelbaum: have younoticed any movement to address some of these inequitiesin higher education? for example, musicianslearn their --
they become trainedin how to play music. they -- most of them take somekind of business of music course, but i wonder as more andmore musicians graduate from these schools fromconservatories, how aware are they in some of these issuesand how well do they know that there's a choice for them? >> maria schneider:not aware enough. i mean that is one of the thingsthat i brought to the table with musicanswers is i said,"this has to be as much
about the young student musician -- >> maria schneider: -- as itis about the professional, because they're the ones that reallyhave been kind of brainwashed, that this is just really cool to putup all your favorite music on a -- on a channel and you're somehow -- youtube channel and you're somehowhelping everybody and yourself. and they don't realizethat they've been taught to cannibalize themselves for --and they're cannibalizing themselves for somebody else's gain andthey don't even realize it.
and those things are not taught. they're still teaching. some people are. some schools are, but mainly,you know, they're teaching kind of the old business and a little bit about the social mediaand all that stuff. and my goal is to wakeeverybody up and start -- i've been starting to write todeans and say, will you send this to every -- we want everyfaculty member and every student
at your school to endorsethis and start watching and -- we're into educating themabout what's really going on, the things that people do notknow and are not awake to. so, yeah, that's tops on my -- onmy agenda for what i want to do. >> larry appelbaum: i lovedhearing this image you cite about the spider sucking the life. it's not so much the sucking part. it's that that's an image fromyour childhood that has stayed with you all these years.
and so for people who knowabout your music and they listen to your recordings, butthey may not know that much about you personallyand your background. you grew up in windom, minnesota? >> maria schneider:uh-huh, southwest minnesota. >> larry appelbaum: andis that prairie land? >> maria schneider:it's prairie land. it's farm land. there's some native prairiethere left, very little patches,
beautiful wide openlandscape, you know, flat, far as the eye can see, beautiful. >> larry appelbaum: and doesthat impact or in what way does that impact your aestheticor your artistic identity? >> maria schneider: youknow, it's so amazing. it's like when you --as you're coming up and you're doing things you don'trealize what's impacting you, and then you look backand you start to see? and what -- first of all, when iwas a kid, i loved aaron copland,
and i think there was -- not the modern aaron coplandbecause i didn't know it. you know, i knew more of the appalachian springand the, you know -- >> maria schneider: -- but there wassomething about the openness of that that i related to, thelandscape of things. and i've always been -- evenearlier today, i was telling you about my piano teacher, thisextraordinary teacher, mrs. butler, who had been a stridepianist in chicago.
she was married toone of the pianists from the glenn millerband, her second husband. she was also a greatclassical pianist, and she was a greatorganist, red hair with a face like dizzy gillespie kindof, you know, very flamboyant with rhinestone-studdedglasses, red hair and wore like, you know, moo-moo's and, you know. she was just an amazing,amazing woman. and my first lesson she taughtme, started teaching me theory.
and she taught me to understandwhy the music i played felt the way it felt. so the one-four-fivechord would be, here we -- here we go up the hill back againhome, to show the four going up, the five bringing youback home is tonic. she had -- before that, it wasbright the day with a major triad, dark the night with a minor triad. so, i've always equated maybethe visual to music, and i've -- much of my music hasbeen about something.
and i don't set out towrite about something. it's that i start writing,and before i know it, i'm on top of the silo of thethompson farm in windom, minnesota, and i'm seeing thosebeans, and i'm like, oh my god, that feels like that. maybe it's a way to bring backmemory and freeze it into -- into a new form thati can relive it. it might be that. it might be -- because ilove it like if my band plays
and whatever it was thatwas going into that music. like i say, the idea -- usuallywhen the idea first comes, it's just a musical idea. then it attaches alot of times itself to a memory or an idea or something. and what i love is in theend when the band plays that and i'm standing there conductingit, and all that imagery is coming to me, to the point sometimeswhere it makes me cry. you know, i'm like, wow, i am there.
it's just so -- such a powerfulattraction to that moment, and i don't know whythat's how it clicks for me in my head but it does. >> larry appelbaum: i assumed thatyou would need to have a detachment in order to pay all attention todetail and performance, and yet, i'm hearing that youget caught up in it. >> maria schneider: oh yeah. >> larry appelbaum:just as [inaudible]. >> maria schneider:very much, very much.
i mean i am definitely,you know, detail, you know, cut of this breath, you know, that'sa little out of tune, you know, look at somebody here, you know,want a little more trumpets. can you play that a little smoother? there's always that going on. but there are momentsthat when it's happening, you're just -- youjust get lost in it. you just say, oh, youknow, yeah, definitely. >> larry appelbaum: didyou study conducting
or is this somethingthat happens naturally? >> maria schneider: istudied a little bit. i took some lessons inminnesota undergrad, some classes with theconducting teacher at eastman. he -- the poor man,donald hunsberger. he was charged with teachingall the jazz musicians how to conduct, you know. >> larry appelbaum: poor man. >> maria schneider: poor man.
but i -- it was funny,recently, i had to conduct -- well a few years back, i had to conduct the same paul chamberorchestra, and i called him up. i said, don, can i -- you know, it'syears, decades later, don can i come up and have a littleconducting lesson? can we talk about this piece? and he was just very sweet about it. but, you know, conducting my bandis something that just evolved. and what is, you know, my band'splaying and i would just --
you don't need to conducta big band in the -- i mean you need someof that technique, because there are alwaysmoments where you need, you know, the little break, the lift,the rubato, this and that. so you need conductingtechnique, but it's not the same as in an orchestra where theconductor's kind of the -- you've got a rhythm section usually. there's something keeping time. for me with -- with my band, it'smore about giving them the picture,
because the trumpets are back there. they're not reallyhearing the reads. everybody's kind of separate. i see myself as a focalpoint to keep them focused on where the music is so theydon't just get in their part, try and go into auto-play, because they're not maybehearing the pictures so well, because it's that --i'm that picture and i'm letting them know,is this feeling right?
you know, they can see it inmy body and if something is -- and i kind of look atthem and i go like that, you know, then they get it. so for me, it's more about sculptingthis thing so that it is emotional, that it's not just technically,yes, i want it technically right, because that also helpsbring out the emotion. but bringing out the rightcrescendo, flavor, you know, just the little things that -- thatare going to make me feel like i'm on that silo as opposed to, youknow, that it's a good piece --
good sounding pieceof music, you know. >> larry appelbaum: there's -- i --i've no doubt that you've seen it. in fact, many of the viewers ofthis will have seen it, but in 1959, cbs broadcast, somethingcalled, the sound of miles or the sound of miles davis. so it's miles with his quintet,and then there's an orchestra led by gil evans, and they didsome of their collaborations. and i love watching gil conduct. it's like a --
>> maria schneider:yeah, it's kind of >> larry appelbaum: -- big bird. >> maria schneider: yeah, yeah, thekind of long hands and the arms -- >> maria schneider: -- and it's-- yeah, they're something. it's some about gil, yeah. it's just his movement. >> larry appelbaum: we should talka little bit about gil because along with bob brookmeyer, gil evansis the musician, arranger, composer of who -- whoyou're often associated with.
i love the story about howyou first came to meet gil. >> larry appelbaum:will you tell it? >> maria schneider: yeah, so i wasa music copyist in new york eight -- >> larry appelbaum: by the way, whatdoes that mean, a music copyist? >> maria schneider:okay, so -- so before -- before computers back when we wereyoung with something called and pad and ink, and -- yeah, so this-- the composer makes the score and somebody has to makeall those individual parts for all the players, and thatcalligraphy is a real art.
and thank god i had a wonderfulteacher, great composer, dominique argento, back atthe university of minnesota. and whenever -- and hetaught me orchestration, great orchestrationteacher, wow, brilliant. and all our orchestration exercises,he made us do in calligraphy pen, and he said, because that's justthe skill i want you to learn to do. well, it was so fantastic because bythe time i left eastman and i wanted to move to new york, i had a skill. and so there's thesemusic copying offices.
there were. we looked at one ofthe things today. it was a -- >> larry appelbaum: charlap? >> maria schneider: yeah, bill --not bill charlap -- emile charlap. it was a -- it was a -- wasa brookmeyer score and -- >> maria schneider: -- and on thebottom of the page, i said, oh, i want to see who copied this,and it was emile charlap. so his office was right aroundthe corner, all in mid-town.
in that -- in that officeat one time, you know, all the arrangers satthere, the copyists. it was a music production. you know, they had somebody, ray charles making arecord or something. they were sitting there allwriting these arrangements. >> larry appelbaum: like afactory or an assembly line. >> maria schneider: well thatwhole area was like that. the brill --
>> maria schneider: have you readthat book, the brill building -- >> maria schneider: --the book about, yeah, music in the air or whatever. it's just -- there was a time there. wow. it must have been amazing. so -- >> larry appelbaum: so you cameat the tail-end of that time? >> maria schneider: well yeah, i would say a little past thetail-end, but there were still,
yeah -- 1985, there werestill music copying offices, and so i got a job in one. and i also ran these big -- you know, they had these hugexerox machines for the big scores. i miss all that stuff, you know. and you'd -- the machine, youcould put the parts through, like if you were doing a longlike three page part, you could -- and the -- you know, thenyou'd just have to fold it. you didn't have to printall the individual pages.
it was amazing. so one day this composer,tom pierson came in, wanted me to printa score for him -- was kind of a dance classical thing. and he -- and i got talkingand i was really starved for conversation about music. i'd left eastman, you know. every night at dinner, we'retalking and now i live in new york, and all that community of mindsalways churning out over music,
you know, i just wasn't with that. so, i think he and i got togetherfor lunch after that i was on my way out to mail something or -- anyway,we got talking, and he asked me who my favorite writers were,and i started talking about gil. and he just listened. and then we went to apenderecki concert i remember. but that night, he wastalking about penderecki. he didn't even mentionmuch about gil. and then he called me and hesaid, i didn't tell you today,
but gil happens to belike my closest friend. and i called him, andi told him about you, and he needs somebodyto do some work for him. and what's crazy aboutit is i was so into gil. and gil was the one thatreally -- gil and brookmeyer -- well, so many of them made mewant to be a jazz composer, but it really -- largely, the reasongil and bob were so powerful for me that way was that gil had-- it's big band music. it's jazz, you know, but it hadall that transparency, the nuance,
the stuff starting withthe claude thornhill. we looked at the arab -- >> larry appelbaum: arab -- >> maria schneider: -- dancescore from the claude thornhill. that music, you know, back then,you know, it's like big bands were like this thing, and then it'sgot this airy sound and mixing it with classical and i love that. and then bob brookmeyer hadthe thing of forms, you know, forms that you findin classical music.
so bringing together -- so it wasn'tjust this definable jazz thing, you know. so i was -- way back then,this is before i even went to eastman or moved to new york. one night i was sitting on the couchand i was listening to svengali, and i was looking at the pictureof gil on the priestess album. and i had this whole vision -- like literally, it just kindof came to me working for gil. so when that whole thing happened tome, i was like, this is just freaky.
it was -- and the first time i saw, i met him with somerehearsal studio. he said, come to therehearsal studio. i'll meet you. i'll give -- they were rehearsing and he wanted me tocopy some things. he came with like alittle sketch this big -- this little king brand music withthe whole score on each line, you know, all the little notes,you know that made up the entire,
so i'd have to -- i was like,wow, okay, this is some kind of -- this is a different kindof copy job, you know. but when i first met him,he came walking towards me. i was so excited and freaked outthat it's like my whole field of vision went justhaywire, and he was like, flying around the room almost. i had to literally like putmy hand out and shut my eyes because i couldn't --i couldn't take it in. he was almost like a -- like a,you know, like a shamanistic sort
of experience of, youknow, somebody -- and if ever there was somebody who was probably a musicalshaman, that would be gil. >> larry appelbaum: of hismusic, what has the sort of dearest place in your heart? >> maria schneider: oh wow. it's been different, differentpieces -- hard to say. the barbara song. >> larry appelbaum:from the individualism?
>> maria schneider:the individualism of gil evans is [makes musical tune]-- you know that sound of the flute and -- and the way he -- i couldn'tbelieve it, it was only years later that i heard the originalbarbara song and how fast it movesand [makes song tune]. >> larry appelbaum: kurt vile. >> maria schneider: yeah, kurtvile, you know, it's like -- and the words are somethingvery strange. and gil just recomposed itinto this long, haunting thing.
so, i think that one for memaybe has the most magic. but then there's so much stuff. oh boy, i don't know. god, there's so many. one of the great gil evansarrangement ryan truesdell did on his new album. it was, "how about you." just a -- and that one heheard about from brookmeyer. he knew to look for it and startdigging to find this thing,
because bob brookmeyer saidyears ago i played a rehearsal for the thornhill band. gil came in with thisarrangement of, "how about you," and it was just crazy great. and it was never recorded. and he ended up digging that out. that thing is amazing. oh my gosh. >> larry appelbaum: i lovegil's arrangements for singers.
>> larry appelbaum: and i knowyou've used luciana souza among others with your orchestra. how do you feel aboutwriting for voices? >> maria schneider: i love it. i love it. yeah, if it takes forever. with astrud gilberto, that thing -- that arrangement hedid is so beautiful. you know, i wrote for dawn upshaw.
>> larry appelbaum: oh that's right. >> maria schneider:see, i wrote for -- luciana started because iwanted that human element. i -- and a piece that was onconcert in the garden, the bulerias and she -- she sang, she is sobeautiful at making her voice like an instrument, mixing in -- >> maria schneider: -- but thenyou've got that human thing. so i started using that in my musicwith luciana just on recording. we didn't do it much live becausehaving a singer with a big band
in that kind of context live from an engineeringstandpoint is just a nightmare. she doesn't hear herselfenough or, you know, or if somebody mixes it too loud. so, it's not somethingi do live very much. but years later, thendawn upshaw comes to me and wants me to commission her. and that started from the same paulchamber orchestra i did i think called, the carlosdrummond de andrade stories.
and then she asked foranother one and i did a suite of nine ted kooser songs. ted kooser was justmy favorite poet. i just love him. he lives in lincoln,nebraska -- poet laureate -- he was poet laureate anda pulitzer prize winner. and i did nine of his poems fromhis book, winter morning walks, a hundred postcards to jim harrison. and what i found was so wonderful,
especially in doingthe kooser stuff, because that poetry,i related to so much. it's very midwestern. it's very plain spokenbut profoundly beautiful. and what i discovered is, you know, i've been writing instrumentalmusic for so many years. and you're pulling every idea,and if there is that story. everything's coming out of you. suddenly, when i wasworking with this poetry,
the poetry was givingme the imagery. the poetry was giving me the rhythmof the, you know, of the words and even hinting at wherethat melody would want to go. so, it was almost like somebodytaking my hand and say, okay, this is the basic outline. this is the sketch, you know. it -- i don't know. it just -- it needed -- i don'twant to say the word is easy, but it just -- it made it lesseffortful, you know, or something.
there was just somethingabout it that it just came -- it felt like somebody justgiving you a little -- a little boost intoa direction and -- and i love that music and musicis very close to my heart. one of the pieces i -- wheni was coming here last night, one of them came up on myipod, and it was, "spring." the sky rippled withgeese with this -- but the green comes on slowly tyingto the ticking of down spouts. the pond still numb from months
of ice reflects just oneenthusiast this morning, a budding maple whose every twigis strong with beads of carves and a cinnabar, bittersweet red." and i had done that song, and it wasplaying and i just thought this time of year is so perfect for that. and i was just like, i love that. and it's easy to love itbecause it's not only my music, it's music i would've neverwritten if it wasn't for ted. >> larry appelbaum: didyou discuss it with ted?
>> maria schneider: i gotpermission of course and -- >> larry appelbaum: by theway, how does that work? do you have agent whodoes it for you? >> maria schneider: no. >> larry appelbaum: or do youliterally pick up the phone? >> maria schneider: no, i -- i found him through theinternet, and wrote him. i was just terrified. you never know what kind ofperson, you know -- you know.
>> maria schneider:you know i'm sure. artists, writers, whatever,they can be anything from open to the prickliest thingson the planet, you know. it can be everything, right. >> larry appelbaum: butusually if you're sincere, they will at least hear you out. >> maria schneider:well, he was very open. i think he had -- >> larry appelbaum: didhe know who you were?
and i think he had no realexpectation, you know, of anything. and then -- and i didn't-- he doesn't -- he isn't much into traveling. he does it here andthere but not a lot. so i invited him to cometo the premier and ojai, and he didn't much want to go. and then i didn't have him hereuntil i finished the record, and i sent it to him, andi was so scared, because -- first of all, thesepoems -- this book --
i don't know if youknow about this book, but he -- he wrote those poems. he was recovering cancer treatment,and he couldn't be in the light. so he started going onthese early morning walks, and he was very depressed,and he wasn't writing. and then one morning,he went on a walk. he tells the story at thebeginning of the book. he came back from a walk and hewrote down a poem and he put it on a postcard, and sent itto jim harrison, his friend.
and then the next day, and it kind of i think probably becamea little bit of his lifeline and brought him back, youknow, writing these poems. so one of them, that's myfavorite maybe that i used was, "walking by flashlight at six inthe morning, my circle of light on the gravel swinging side to side. coyote, raccoon, fieldmouse, sparrow, each watching from darkness, thisman with the moon on a leash." so, you know, it's justsuch beautiful imagery.
and so, i was so scared for himto hear the music because i knew that these poems were so for him. you know, they had to be soclose to his heart, you know. i'm sure all of his poetryis, but i was just terrified. and i got up one morningearly, you know, and i glanced at --because i just sent it. i fedex'ed it to him,and there was an email from him, and he just loved it. it was this long emailand it was just so --
and i remember i was so beautiful. i mean i was so -- so movedthat he thought it was beautiful that i started to cry and i -- i went back to bed andsaid to mark, "he likes me. he likes -- " you know, i wasjust -- i'm going to cry now, because i was so relieved, becausei loved that poetry so much. so, you know. it's scary to put somebody's wordsto music, and it's a responsibility. and --
>> larry appelbaum: hasanyone used your music or repurposed it for something else? >> maria schneider: a fewpeople have rearranged it and made it into things. one of the most beautiful -- you'renot even going to believe this, because i -- one day my -- the guywho handles my publishing, you know, administration, he said there wasa drummond bugle corp that wants to do a version of sky blue. >> larry appelbaum: oh.
>> maria schneider: skyblue is this ballad of mine. i thought drummondbugle -- i'm going to -- i was like, okay, whatever,you know. it was kind of like ted, you know, probably the low expectation,you know. and they sent me avideo of this thing. it is one of the most moving,beautiful arrangements. it's so beautiful. it's beyond, and they had videosof the kids singing all the parts,
you know, in preparation. they were all singing. then they showed them juststanding there and playing. and then they showedthem on the field and they all had these spandex lightblue -- you might be able to find -- i don't know if they have a websitewhere they show that, but t-shirt -- blue spandex shirts withclouds and -- it was -- it was a group calledthe blue coats, and their -- it was beautiful.
and so -- and some peoplehave made small group versions of torben waldorff,of choro dancado. i mean my music is so kind of frozeninto a shape that is, you know. it's not like a tune, youknow, that you easily just kind of turn into something else. so when somebody does it,it's kind of a notable thing, so it doesn't happen a lot. >> larry appelbaum: now dopeople who may, you know, let's say an ensemble somewherewho might want to perform some
of your works, do theyhave access to the music? i sell -- >> larry appelbaum:through your publishing? >> maria schneider: i -- i self-publish my musicall through artistshare. so it's -- so everybody --and so what we do is, yeah, people can buy the scores inparts, and then we include a video of me talking abouthow i conduct it. i include videos ofguys in my band talking
about how they approach playing thesolos or maybe the comping or it -- depending -- each onehas different videos. and we also do a thingon my last recordings. well you know a lotabout engineering, so everything's recordedmultitrack and with -- the soloists are always in asoundproof booth or usually. they have been on my last records. and so we make a versionwith the soloist mixed out. and then i put with that --
so then i can include that so that the student solos canpractice along with my band. so all those kinds of things are. yeah, i figured out away to share and publish and do everything i canthrough that website. >> larry appelbaum: can i assumethat when you write, you often write with specific people in mind -- >> larry appelbaum:-- in your orchestra? >>>> larry appelbaum: canyou give me an example
of how you might writefor a specific soloist? >> maria schneider: i don'tthink i can give you an example and i'll tell you why. so people always saythis about ellington -- >> maria schneider: it'sprobably the most talked about aspect of ellington. he wrote for his playersand what i -- what i would say aboutthat is that you -- if you work with people nightafter night and year after year,
you can't help but do that. you have a way of relatingand taking them in with what you put out. it's very much like conversation. you're talking to me one way. if your mother was sitting here,you'd talk to her a different way. if a -- your closestfriend was sitting here, you'd maybe have a highlyinappropriate conversation about something, you know.
>> larry appelbaum:we could do that. >> maria schneider: who-- who knows what -- >> maria schneider:-- what it would be? and so it's the samething, you know. it's just your gutmakes you do something. so, i don't know if ican put it into words. and maybe sometimes now though ithink i really write for my soloist and tuned into what they do, i alsoknow that sometimes maybe i kind of typecast them, because i have anidea in my head about who they are
and sometimes for fun, you know,we'll be on a tour and i'll switch around solos to shake things up. and it's like, okay, let's give thisto this person tonight or whatever. and an instrument and a person that i never imagined playinga certain solo will do it, and all of a sudden, itturns it into something that i just never imaginedthat i love. and so -- so, yeah, to sayan example of how i do it; well scott robinson-- let's pick scott.
scott can do so many things withhis instrument, and he is somebody who is coming from a deep respect of everything verytraditional all the way to sun ra and beyond, you know. so -- so he's got this wide scope. so with scott, you know that you cando things that don't just require, you know, fitting in, you know,really beautiful melodic way to a harmonic thing, but thatcan go kind of creatively beyond into sort of a sonic spectrum.
i mean there's that, butthen also kind of knowing too where his heart can goas a musician too -- what he can get into andwhat he might not get into. so i try to hit that. for me, the hardest part with all -- with the guys and this stuff iswhen we're rehearsing and trying to describe to them in rehearsalwhat i want, so that we can get it to a certain point sothat then they get it, and then now they can takeit to their own point.
but that first initial thing of,no, no, no, can you try it this way? can you do that? you know, it -- it can be veryantithetical to creativity and you have to just kind of muscleit into some sort of understanding and then -- then the thing freezeup and then they take it some place. i don't know. i wasn't expecting. >> larry appelbaum: thereare some very creative people in your orchestra.
>> larry appelbaum:because you mentioned scott. he not only has this wide palate ofwhat he's likely to do as a creator, but he also has allthese instruments -- >> larry appelbaum:-- they can create on. >> larry appelbaum: and iwondered if you ever write for a contrabass saxophone? >> larry appelbaum: you do? >> maria schneider: yeah, yeah. sometimes -- well, youknow what, if i do that --
well contrabass clarinetis in the bulerias. i generally don't doit as a -- as -- i do it as this could possiblybe played on this also, because getting a contrabasssaxophone on an airplane, you know -- there are -- there arepracticalities that you have to -- so, we'll experimentwith those things and contrabass trombone,george flynn. but i love when scott bringsout these wild instruments, you know, and plays things.
i just -- i love it and the audienceloves it, and it's just so -- >> larry appelbaum: it'svisually interesting also -- >> larry appelbaum: --to watch your orchestra. i suppose i should ask youabout your brush with one of the most famous,let's say rock icons, and that's david bowieat the end of his life. >> larry appelbaum: why don'tyou talk a little bit about what that experience meant toyou and how it played out? >> maria schneider:well, i'll tell you.
the biggest way, it's -- imean it's how it's played. this piece that i wrotefor you, for the library of congress would nothave been written if it weren't for david bowie. >> larry appelbaum: really? how so? >> maria schneider: thereis no question about that. well, so he came to meabout working on this song that he was -- had started.
he gave -- he came witha, like a little recording of something he had put together. it was the beginnings ofsomething, but it wasn't developed into this long thing and -- >> larry appelbaum:and he knew about you or did you know each other already? >> maria schneider:no, i'd never met him, but he had come to hear the band. >> larry appelbaum: got it.
>> maria schneider: and somebodyhad once written to me about, you know, would you sign some cds? i want to give them todavid for this birthday. so i knew david liked my music, thathe came to hear the band one night, and he was gone before the-- i had a chance to say, hi. and then out of the blue, i'dheard he was looking for -- for me, and he called me aboutcollaborating on this song together. and i was very, very nervousabout it, because i just -- it's like david bowie,and i just thought,
what if i don't meet hisexpectation or you know? so i kept saying to him, okay, youjust have to promise me if you don't like it, you can just say so. that's okay, you know. i was just constantly doing that. and then once we were --decided we were going to go ahead and i listened to the thing andhe was sitting there, you know, and i heard it, and iwent over to the piano, and i started playing around.
and i said, so youwant this to be dark? because i said this doesn'tsound super dark to me. he said, i want it dark. and so i was playingaround, and i said, okay. i said, i'll do it. i said, let's -- i think i hear-- i said, i don't want to say, yes unless i feel like i canreally bring something to it. of course, who doesn't wantto work with david bowie? but i didn't want to work with davidbowie unless i felt like i was going
to do something he wasgoing to be happy with. so -- so then i worked onsome ideas or, you know, we talked about a little bit. he left and then he came back. and then i brought someideas to the table. then we started working togetheron it, and we met a few times, and we put togethera little session. but somewhere in there, youknow, i was like, david, this is going to bereally expensive.
what we're doing iskind of a crazy thing. and what if it's not good? what if you don't like it? and he said, maria,the plane goes down. he said, everybody walks away. so -- so -- >> maria schneider: you know andi'm a person who i go in a crisis. when people call meto do a commission, many composers are happy.
i'm like, oh, no, not a commission,because i know i'm going to -- that means i'm goingto torture myself. i'm going to have severalmonths of self-loathing. >> larry appelbaum: is that true? are you really like this? >> larry appelbaum: but that doesn'tcome from insecurity, does it? >> maria schneider: of course. >> maria schneider: deep-seated -- >> larry appelbaum: i would not haveimagined you as an insecure person.
>> maria schneider: are you serious? oh, yeah. when it comes to thewriting and everything, oh yeah. >> larry appelbaum:and it's every time? >> maria schneider: oh, i have-- i have -- every time i hear -- >> larry appelbaum: wow. >> maria schneider: -- newmusic, i go in a crisis and many times have been in tearsat rehearsals including yesterday. >> larry appelbaum:who'd of thought? >> maria schneider: yeah,it can happen to me.
yeah, i just get frustrated. it's hard for me tofigure it all out. every time, it is so -- >> larry appelbaum: butbowie gave you some cues that said that, yes, she hears it -- >> maria schneider: it's okay. >> maria schneider: so wheni was writing this piece, and david liked my intense stuff. so he wanted this pieceto be kind of a sue.
it ended up being called sueor in the season of crime. he wanted this drum and bass fast,kind of drums going under this thing and this whole thing was justkind of this intense thing. and then i created this sortof rubato stuff over the top. well, somehow that wholeconcept has just been in my head, and he liked my intense music. and as i started workingon this idea, all of a sudden i just realized thisis a continuation of david -- david. and david would reallylove this piece.
i know he would love this piece. it might not be quite fully formed. i may have to do some editingyet, but i think he would -- he would love what i'm doing. my assistant marie, she was at therehearsal when i was playing it. she said, "david would love this." and i said, "yeah,i think he would," which makes me happy, you know. and i -- so these gesturesthat i do in the ensemble
where the band justgoes -- the band -- the rhythm section'scooking along and there's -- the soloist is going or whatever and the band just startsgoing [makes musical noise]. that's the kind of thing. i would've just -- i don't know ifi would've ever risked doing it. and i -- when i threw it in frontof my band, it was just like, i'm just going to do this. the plane goes down, whatever.
we do all walk away. you know, that's art. we take the risk and we tryit and we see what happens. and so, i did this piece with --even though i will tell you, yes, it's been stressful, i did itwith more joy and more like, throw it to the wind,see what happens, than i would've because of him. and i kept having his face in myhead of him just smiling and that -- i still remember him looking, youknow, just smiling and just --
and at the -- and when we wererecording, seeing his face through the glass and just smiling, just enjoying doing thisthing with the band. you just -- you know, heloved kenton, loved kenton. >> larry appelbaum:oh, i didn't know. and he loved jazz andhe loved big band music, and then his last albumended up being with donny. >> larry appelbaum: donny mccaslin. he had wanted to do onemore piece with me --
>> maria schneider: -- and we talkedeven about doing much more, but -- and i think we would'vedone much more. >> larry appelbaum: did you knowat the time that he was dying? >> maria schneider: no, no. but -- but i didn't havetime to do another piece, because i was doing the thompsonfields, my newest record, so -- and i -- and i didn't even have timefor sue, but i did it, you know, but that summer was just socramped and busy and stressful. and so i just said i justonly have the time for one,
but the other piece endedup becoming lazarus. and i'm so glad that they did it. and i had said to him. i -- when he was describing to methe whole drum and bass and the jazz and everything, i said, you haveto listen to donny mccaslin. i -- so i said, let me get -- i pulled out, you know,the recordings i have. i said, listen to this. and he just loved it.
i said, you shouldwork with these guys. this would be amazing. this would be an unbelievablecombination. and we went to hear donny and tonyvisconte was there, his producer, and they ended up with donny's groupdoing that last album which for me, is one of the greatestalbums david made. it is so evocative. i love it so much, but then i'mjust wrecked after i listen to it. so i -- then i can't listen to itthat last -- the last song on that.
oh my god. so i love what david andi created together on sue. i love the way he sings on it. i'm so happy with it. but even if all that had been wasjust to get him connected to donny to make that last record,i would've been like, wow, that might be musically one of the greatest things i everdid is just being that, you know, little arrow point for him, so.
>> larry appelbaum: i'mglad you both did it. >> maria schneider: yeah, it's -- who would think that you'daffect david bowie's musical -- last musical project? do you know i would've -- i would'vethought i'd be the last person on earth that would that, you know. but it just goes to showyou how open musicians are, how open we are amongstourselves and what a world -- a beautiful world of collaboration.
i mean it's -- it is the greatestworld to be a part of and it's such a privilege, andthere's so much talent. and there's so much hardwork and creativity. and i think it's -- goingback to that other subject, the nasty subject before, i think that's why i make this wholeadvocacy thing such a huge part of my life, because it burns my buttwhen people not only take advantage of the financial aspects of,you know, of people's lives -- it's basically like reaching intosomebody's 401k and saying, hey,
i'm going to give out, you know,number -- little 15 dollar -- you know, here, everybody,take a little, you know and just pick away at it. it's not just that. it's eroding the wholeculture of it. and it's going to affectthe quality of the music, because if the music canonly then be made just by these massive record companiesthat are pushing these, you know, teen wonders or whateverit is just to make money
and get billion streams or whatever,and so many other musicians are just like i can't swim amidstthis, you know. how can i have a family if iget a check for three cents or 30 dollars even in this day? you know i have millions of streamsand got, you know, 17 dollars. i mean it's like come one. this isn't -- this is -- thisis going to destroy things, and it makes me angrybecause it's an ecosystem. it's an amazing ecosystem,the music industry.
>> larry appelbaum: it's fascinatingto hear you talk about it because within you, there's akind of balance between the things that might arouse yourpassion and the things -- the gifts that you'vebeen given in life. and the greatest thingis to find that balance. >> maria schneider: not easy. >> larry appelbaum: as a -- i think we have time maybefor one last question. >> maria schneider: okay.
>> larry appelbaum: as a composer,as an arranger, band leader, all the other hyphens, allthe other hats you wear, how do you measure success? >> maria schneider: howdo i measure success? success to me, enjoyingloving what you do and feeling like it's growing and it's moving. because success kindof implies arrival. and artists, i think you neverfeel like you arrive, you know. somebody said to me, what --
well does it feel good toget like where you are? and i said, no, actually not,because it's an infinite ways to go and you're always abeginner on the next. you know, there's always thenext wrung on the ladder. and maybe you get to a certainpoint of confidence and, you know, not proving yourselfthat makes some plateaus, but then there's alwaysthat next challenge. so, success, you know, i thinkif you ever even have the feeling of success, you sortof are done, you know.
so, maybe success is neveractually feeling success. i don't know -- i don't know. >> larry appelbaum: asnake eating its tail -- >> larry appelbaum:-- maria schneider. >> maria schneider: thank you. >> larry appelbaum:thank you very much. >> this has been a presentationof the library of congress. visit us at loc.gov.