Welcome to The Ear Reader, a new web magazine about contemporary composition, based in The Netherlands. The Ear Reader came about because we felt there was a need to shed light on contemporary composition and make musical and contemporary ideas available to a larger public — ideas and thoughts that usually remain hidden.

Why is contemporary composition necessary in a living culture? What role can contemporary music play in defining or questioning our identities? What are the ideas underlying contemporary compositions? How does new music come about? On this site, we are looking for answers, but also seek to offer a sense of the play of stances that contemporary composers may take.

Written partly in Dutch and partly in English, The Ear Reader offers articles and applications by composers working in The Netherlands and internationally. In Notes, columns by composers, we ask composers to reveal some of their inspirations and compositonal ideas. The first Notes are written by Louis Andriessen and Mayke Nas. Andriessen offers some thoughts on references in music; Nas presents a completely new kind of inspirational tool: a snackbar with Youtube refreshments. As part of Worlds, current states of affairs, Kyriakides offers to us a collaborative piece he envisioned together with visual artist Isabelle Vigier, combining music, images and text. In Thoughts, essays on contemporary composition, Anne La Berge discusses the double role of the composer/performer in the Netherlands, and in an extensive essay Samuel Vriezen takes a critical and refreshing look at the ways the art of composition is defended in public political discourse in the Netherlands.

Finally, our pdf-archive will offer a rich selection of texts from before the advent of the internet that we still consider important today. As the first item in the archive, we are offering a 1977 discussion by Jan Vriend of stochastic and other mathematical methods in the work of Iannis Xenakis.

We are very proud to present to you these six first contributions and hope you will enjoy them as much as we do. We hope these items will let you share in our desire to approach contemporary composition in an affirmative way. We say “yes!” to contemporary composition in its many forms and are intrigued by the reasons why composers write music, by how musicians study for so many years to master their instruments, and by the craving of audiences to experience the results. We are in awe and are puzzled at the same time. And we like to share our wonder with you.

Rozalie Hirs, Amsterdam, 7 December 2010