• Give New Age Piano A Chance!

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    Have you listened to modern piano music lately? By modern I’m talking about piano music that’s been written in the last 20 years. This genre is often referred to as New Age piano, contemporary piano, etc. and takes many different forms. If you haven’t given it a fair shake recently, then this blog is for you.

    Let’s be honest, modern piano music has somewhat of a bad rap. Immediately one might think of "fluff" piano music, with little substance. Another thought that may come to mind is "meditational" piano music, which for many people could mean the same thing as boring. And to make matters worse, many people add the "cheese factor" to the list of their ideas about modern piano music, above and beyond the many other misconceptions. And yes, these are all misconceptions about what we call "New Age" piano music.

    This is a genre that is constantly evolving. When it was in it’s infancy, it was beautiful piano music. But today, this style of piano is becoming something truly amazing. If you were a David Lanz fan 15 years ago, you’re going to have to get rid of some of your ideas about what modern piano music is today, because it’s changed. It’s become more involved, more intricate, more energetic, more beautiful than ever before. It’s also becoming more and more popular; the idea that this genre has outlived itself is flawed. Today, there are scores of listeners of New Age piano music the world over, who are fans of this genre specifically, and who listen to it more than any other genre in their collection.

    Many classically trained pianists mistakenly lump New Age piano music into a category that means "less skilled," "less complicated," and not as worthy of praise as the works of the great masters. I find this sentiment to be extremely shortsighted, and unfair to the composers of today who are working hard to create beautiful art. And I would remind these people that there are a good number of New Age pianists who are trained at the Julliard level. Michael Dulin comes to mind.

    Sleepy? Boring? Sure, Contemporary piano can be these things. But doesn’t every genre have it’s share of "sleepy" and "boring" composers? And how is this any different? "Meditation music?" Some of it. And that mood does have it’s place. But the best of today’s New Age piano music is a combination of quiet and reflective with energetic and refreshing. Composers like Matthew Mayer embrace all of these elements, and create a flow in their performances and their recordings that holds the attention and peaks the interest of the listener.

    To understand today’s piano music one must listen to it without making assumptions, and without the preconceptions they may have regarding what it is. And one must listen to more than just one composer. Don’t like one? Try another, there’s lots of it out there! One must be willing to explore this style and come to understand it for what it is: another one of the many valid, creative art forms that is unique to the era that we live in. So, have you listened to modern piano music lately? If not, get out the ipad and prepare yourself for a journey that will take you places you haven’t been yet. I think you’re going to find there’s a lot more waiting for you along the way than you’d imagined…

    Donovan Johnson is an internationally recognized New Age pianist and recording artist. His music combines folk, classical and contemporary styles to create a unique sound all it’s own, and is available through many websites and radio stations. To learn more, visit his website at www.donovanjohnson.net. Or visit his online New Age piano radio station at www.enlightenedpiano.com!

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