Copyright 2013 © David Chesky
All rights reserved

New York City Composer: David Chesky on Time, Place and Music

By Robert Schulslaper

Composer David Cheskyís conversation, at least when heís talking about music, zips along, bursting with ideas and associations. This is a musician who can write a concerto in a week, whose music flows in a cataract that echoes his love of kayaking and skiing. An interviewer merely has to toss a word out and heís off and running, holding forth with good-humored intensity on anything and everything.

Q: Letís start with the New York Rags. The recording was made using a Yamaha Disklavier, a versatile ďenhancedĒ piano that can be used in the conventional way but can also be programmed to perform. Which option did you select?

A: Both. Hereís the thing: I donít want to go so deep into how we do it because I want to talk more about the music, but just to clear things up, letís talk about making piano records. The average classical piano record has about a thousand edits in it, ok? So basically the pianist says, ďletís do bar 64. Letís do bar 109Ē and then the editor sews this whole thing together to make it perfect. The good thing about the Yamaha Disklavier, you could play the whole thing in and if you play it bad then you can go back and fix the wrong notes. And then it has the same continuity of this one performance. If thereís hard things in there, they can be adjusted and all that. So I think itís a more realistic thing for pianists. I think in the future all piano records should be made with the Disklavier. Letís say Monday youíre supposed to make a recording session. You donít feel good. Youíre stuck. Then you have an engineer say, ďI need to do it again, test it,Ē and all this. Thereís lots of pressure. If a pianist could go into a room and wear his shorts and a tee shirt and play and then hand the disc to a recording engineer, who in turn can play the performance back in a concert hall without the pressure, you get the best of both worlds. The pianist is not inconvenienced by the recording process and the engineer is not inconvenienced by the pianist, so I think to get better recordings in the future this is a much smarter way to do it.

Q: Process aside, the piano is well suited to the music: crisp, clear, light.

A: Well, you know, my music is very fast, thereís a lot of stuff going on and the Yamaha has a very clear, precise sound thatís good for me. I donít write romantic music, Iím not doing Brahms. So for my music itís crystalline, itís clean, you hear all the linesÖ And also, with the binaural technology, itís supposed to be that the pianoís sitting ten feet in front of you.

Q: Do you have to wear earphones to appreciate that?

A: No, itís Binaural Plus, so it plays back perfectly on headphones and perfectly on speakers. This is a technology weíre developing with Princeton with the 3D Audio Lab for certain recordings. Look the idea is, while Iím on the subject of recording, most people are going to get their art via electronic media. If you want to live in Idaho on a farm and have a nice life, but you want to hear great music, with this new technology we can put you in the space. Most people canít live in New York or large cities and we can bring the actual venue to them, it makes it a more visceral expanse.

Q: For those who may not know, binaural recordings are made using a life-sized model of a head, which stands in for the listener. Are the microphones attached to the head?

A:, No, no, the head is the microphone. Inside the ears of the head are two microphones, calibrated. So it hears like a person hears, it has all these spatial cues. I mean, this could be a whole Ďnother fifty page article, but you know, spatial cues are very important. For instance, on my ballet record you can hear the bass drum and the glockenspiel properly situated in space. I think in an orchestra you need these spatial cues because when things are congested on a recording and all cramped up you donít really hear the counterpoint, you donít hear the line because everybodyís in the same physical space. So what we try to do with the binaural technology is properly orient everything: that tympaniís way back there and then you feel the cello on the right and everythingís spatially precise. Then the musical lines emanating from those spaces are a lot clearer. Thereís a technology coming out called cross-talk cancellation with which we can do three-dimensional space coming out of two speakers. So in the future we can actually put you in Carnegie Hall, not record there, but put you there. That is how sophisticated this technology weíre working on is getting.

Q: Are you an audio engineer?

A: Yeah, Iím very conversant in technologies but when we record I do have engineers even though I direct the session. Technology development is a very important part of what I do, I enjoy it. I like doing these things and I like the challenge of pushing the entire industry forward as weíre doing with HDtracks. We have this delivery system and it can only enrich the musical experience.

Q: What inspired you to write the New York Rags?

A: Last year I was listening to Dick Hyman play Fats Waller. That was great and I just said to myself, ďI like this stride piano, Iím pretty good at it, I just want to try one.Ē So I wrote one. And I had a ball. So I said, ďYou know, Iím just going to write another one.Ē (chuckling). And at the end of the month I had eighteen. Thatís how it happened. And then I named then after New York and I did a video with my kids and all that, The Kids are Late for School Rag. But itís just trying to take the American music of Ragtime and Jazz and as [chef] Emeril Lagasse says, ďKick it upĒ and make it contemporary. Joplin was writing his rags in the late 1800s in traditional harmony,

but my rags are atonal, they have fugues in Ďem, theyíre dissonant, they swing, they have jazz, theyíre influenced by everybody Iím influenced by. Theyíre influenced by Gershwin, theyíre influenced by Bernstein, theyíre influenced by Stravinsky, Bartok, all these things put into a rag form. Because my basic background is as a classical composer but Iím also a jazz musician. People say, why do you use jazz in your music: the question is, why not? I mean, Bartok and Stravinsky used their folklore in music and I think for music to be organic and indigenous that American music shouldnít be watered down European classical sensibilities, we should just reinvent it and make it our own. So these rags are very difficult, theyíre virtuoso, but at the end theyíre quintessentially American, this canít be written by a European. It has all these flavors of Americana in there and the one thing that we own in this country, that we need to have in our music, I believe, all of our music, is syncopation. We own it. And this is what American music is to me, the fact that we can play things off the beat where European classical music is rooted in rhythms being linearly subdivided (delivers a rapid series of rhythmically exact syllables and contrasts it with syncopated syllables). And thisÖI put this in my orchestra music, as wellósyncopation. So getting back to the Rags, this is a homage to ragtime, jazz, Americana, itís all mixed together, itís New York and New York is just a collage of everything. So I took all these influences and made it into this piano record.

Q: Traditional Rags follow a fairly complex melodic and harmonic blueprint. Were you imitating that pattern in your own rags?

A: No. The form is whatever I want to do. In writing my Rags I identified with the feeling, the swing, the stride piano. They come from the same organic place as Scott Joplin, but the form, tonality, harmonic language, syncopationís totally different. If I were writing rags like the Maple Leaf, it would be goofy. My thing is this: I want my music to be organic and not contrived. I could sit and write any style I want and all that, I could write minimalism, I could write atonal. But the thing is, I have to write music that I enjoy. I write music for myself to get off. And I like the rags. I want to write music thatís fun to play and fun to listen to. Enjoy it and itís challenging. I donít want simplistic.

Q: The performance sounds very natural, no one would guess that a machine was playing it back.

A. No, itís very sophisticated. Look, Iím not as concerned as to how itís played and all that. Basically itís a tool to get things out quicker. If I had to sit there and do it on my own it would be a year practicing. I donít want to sit there and practice for a year. I want to get it out quick and I can start writing the next thing.

Q: Using whatís really an outgrowth of the player piano to perform complex, virtuosic music canít help but recall Conlon Nancarrow. Was he an influence?

A: I think if I had to draw a tree my influence would be pretty much Stravinsky, Bartok, Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and then I would say myself. This is the music

I like because all these writers write rhythmically. All these writers are influenced by jazz, so I come from that school. That would be my school and I want to take it to the next level and see what I can do with it.

Q: It may be a silly question but what is jazz to you?

A: You know what jazz is to me? Well, itís something thatís hard to define but you know it when you hear it. But the thing is, jazz is a playerís art form. Because if twenty jazz players play the song My Funny Valentine youíd have twenty completely different versions. Itís an interpretive art form, itís an improvisational art form. Classical music is a composerís medium. If twenty orchestras played the Rite of Spring theyíre pretty much going to be very similar. Everybodyís going to have a staccato here and a rest here, itís the same thing a little fast or slower. So thatís the difference.

I like to take jazz as a springboard for a poet to extemporaneously poetize, and itís fun for the poet to do it. I think itís more fun to play than classical because you can just do what you want to. It comes from that. But you know, I cross both lines. I need fulfillment. I have a lot of fun playing jazz, I enjoy it, itís my therapy but I also like the depth and intellectual challenge of orchestral writing.

Q: Do you feel a kinship between Stravinskyís or Bartokís use of jazz and your own?

A: Absolutely. But the thing is, they introduced the jazz style of their generation. When Stravinsky was influenced by jazz, it was the Roaring Twenties, it was a different type of jazz. Latin, hip-hop, funk music is my jazz. The important thing is itís a folkloric art form, and I want to use these art forms and take them and encompass them and recreate them into symphonies and concertos, into a higher form. You need this building block to have connection to society. For me, art has to reflect time and culture. It has to be this. And by using these blocks of culture around you then it becomes organic, it becomes art; thereís a real humanism, a connection to the world. I mean, I could sit here and come up with some mathematical atonality and tone row that would be fascinating but to me, it doesnít have the passion that music has.

Q: Another thing you have in common with composers like Bartok is your willingness to use ethnic music. Here and there in your concertos it seemed to me I could hear traces of Gypsy music, Klezmer, even a snippet of tango.

A: Absolutely, yeah. I like gypsy music, just like Bartok did. Iím fascinated with these Rumanian bands. They play like a quarter note is a hundred ninety-eight. I mean, itís so fast crazy, and intoxicating (makes rapid sounds). As a matter of fact, I want to do a gypsy record. I like to do new different things. Actually I already wrote it, so I want to get an orchestra that can play it. Thatís the problem. I think Iíll go to Eastern Europe. I think Jewish klezmer, gypsy music, flamenco music, and jazz share a connection. Itís the frantic thing but thereís a soulful expression, like the blues.

When you hear these sad klezmer clarinet players itís almost like a guy in the Delta singing the blues. Itís about heartache. Thereís a humanity there that everybody tries to capture in their own indigenous forms. Even though itís like pulling people up to the 21st century, I want to write and reflect my thing. I want to use rhythm, I want to use harmonic language thatís contemporary and itís got to be organic. Just likeÖwhen you hear Rhapsody in Blue, you close your eyes and you see the skyline of New York.

Q. You donít think thatís because you might have seen Woody Allenís Manhattan?

A: Thatís the thing too, but I think maybe thatís why he used it. But Iím saying it really captures that.

Q: Well, thereís definitely something. The idea of a zeitgeist has been around for a long time, after all.

A: Sometimes when Eastern Europeans or Europeans hear some of my music they think theyíve put the needle on the wrong speed. But I donít live in the Alps by a beautiful lake looking at the still cows, I live in a city and the metaphor of New York is ďget out of my face.Ē (laughs). Thatís the metaphor of our time. New York is a fast-pulsed place and if youíre going to live here and write about it, thatís what it is. You know, on the subway, move, letís go, come on, make your point. And thatís my thing. I donít know what other composers do but thatís my philosophical thing, whether people like it or not. Itís an objective. The thing is, we have so many talented people on the island, orchestras, arts emanate from New York city. Unfortunately, I think in classical music institutions our philosophy is letís import everything from Europe.

Q: You think thatís still true? I know in the early 1900s it was, and perhaps even into the middle of the century, but I thought weíd gotten away from all that.

A: Yeah, I definitely think thatís the way it is and I think all local orchestras should create their own indigenous local sound and export that everywhere. Look, Iím going to say things I shouldnít say. Hypothetically, if Lincoln Center disappeared, would it affect American culture? No. Itís basically the society for the preservation of 18th century European culture.

Q: Is it that they donít play enough contemporary, specifically American, music?

A: Itís not whether itís American, modern, whatever, it just doesnít exist. My point is this, we have to develop our own indigenous orchestral sound. And if weíre not nurturing it and championing it weíll never do it. The orchestras today, they have this business model, letís just do the same thing, the same thing, the same thingÖ

Q: Unfortunately they need money, so they tend to stick with what works.

A: They need money and thatís their thing. My thing is I have a theoretical cobbler shop in New York city where I make shoes called orchestra works and aim to create new American music.

Q: So if you had your way and endless funds, would you create an orchestra and only perform contemporary works?

A: I would make sure that I had things for young people. I want to see people with I-Pods and tattoos walking into an orchestral hall. Itís not like I just want to see my Violin Concerto. Itís appalling because itís not reflecting time and culture. Look, Mahlerís Secondís great, Mahlerís Ninthís great, but to a fourteen year old kid walking down the street thereís no relationship to it. An orchestra has to be a living thing and reflect its community. Letís take rap for instance.

Q: Do you like it?

A: Itís interesting. I just did a Rap Symphony. I found rappers to do it. But letís look at it right now. Rap music is a living folklore urban art form. Ok? So what theyíre doing in the urban areas of New York, theyíre putting up a mirror and theyíre reflecting their time and culture. In orchestra halls today we have to do the same thing to an audience that appreciates a different type of experience in the orchestral world. We have to be as current, we have to as innovative and interesting and it has to be alive.

People should have the ability to celebrate anticipation. Hey, a new Woody Allen movieís coming out. Really? Letís go see it, Iím curious. Where is that curiosity in classical music? We need this thing where people want to hear whatís newóI canít wait to hear it, what did you hear? Well letís go. If you donít have this you have this museum thing that just exists, itís not our culture, weíre recreating the culture of Europe. Like I said, this island is whatís happening in the world today. We export jazz, we export Broadway, we export literature, we should export an American New York classical sound. End of story. And that would be successful because people are interested in whatís going on in New York.

We live in a world of rhythm and that is what I try to incorporate into my classical music so it has context in todayís society. The entire world now marches to a pulse and if classical music does not have this in its new music it becomes farther and farther away from modern culture and will have very little relevance or connection to the day-to-day world. If things progress as per the status quo in time classical music will have a smaller and smaller niche audience thatís only interested in period art.

Q: Besides the Rap Symphony, what else of yours is aimed at young people?

A: Among other things, I have a ballet, The Zephyrtine, thatís coming out next month. First of all, this is a very difficult piece. Itís not talking down to kids, itís very orchestral, giant percussion section, but itís my attempt to write things to get young

people interested in going out of the house and into the concert hall. It was done in Portugal. The Portuguese underwrote this because Iím Composer in Residence with the Portugal orchestra. The bottom line is to get people who are into ballet to bring their children, you have to attract them. This is the thing, how do we do it? I have an opera right now running in Asia, it opens up in three weeks, the Krakow Operaís doing it, my Mice War (As of this writing it SOLD OUT every show at the Krakow opera and the Penderecki Center in Lustawice, Poland). Itís a childrenís opera to get kids into the opera. We need to put such strength and effortÖLook, I have crazy operas for adults that you have to be over eighteen to see and I have things for children. I want to get kids interested with my equivalent of Peter and the Wolf and things like this.

Q: Obviously, live performances would be best, but have you considered projecting filmed versions?

A: Well, thatís what weíre going to try to do later. Right now weíve just recorded the music, so the music will come out. Youíve got a nice kidís booklet in there with a lot of drawings. Itís a binaural, super spectacular recording and I think any adult will enjoy it as well and they can enjoy it with their children. Iím hoping that kids will say, ďI like it, itís a fun story, what are all these instruments?Ē Kids are open to new things and thatís how we get our next generation, to make it current. We have to write things for these young kids to be involved.

Q: Youíre certainly doing your share. What is Classical Cats?

A: Classical Cats is a CD Iíve made to teach kids about music. Itís for four or five-year old kids and we give them away. Orchestras do kids concerts, but theyíre dependent on the parentís bringing the kids; theyíre into classical music and theyíre going to take them. But we only have a small sliver of the pie because weíre not reaching out to everyone else. There are kids out there that donít know classical music exists. Thereís no way to hear it on the radio, theyíre not hearing it on the TV and theyíre not seeing it and theyíre not learning about it in the schools. Out of that big pie, X amount of them will take to classical music and love it. How do we find and reach them? Thatís the idea of Classical Cats. Letís get it out to all the kids and all of a sudden maybe twenty out of a hundred will say, you know, this is fun. And maybe ten of those twenty will say, Iím going to become a banker or a lawyer but Iím going to at least have an affinity for classical music and that will be the next generation subscriber. And maybe five of those kids will say, Iím going to take an instrument up and maybe one of them will be in the Philharmonic.

Q: Where do you give it away?

A: We give it to schools, we give them on line, we sell them. But itís hard, itís hard to even give things away, thereís an apathy even to giving things, itís very hard. People say, well, we donít know how to give it away, whoís going to pay to distribute itÖI guess running philanthropy is hard.

Q: What was your childhood like, musically?

A: My mother was an English teacher and her philosophy was you learn music because it makes you disciplined and youíre going to be a better student.

Q: But how did she know you were even interested?

A: Didnít matter.

Q: She hired a piano teacher to teach you?

A: Everybody in the house took piano lessons. That was it. My oldest brother is a professor and heís a pretty good pianist, my younger brother had to take piano lessons, I took piano lessons, we all did. Because the idea is when you become a doctor or physicist, or something like that, when you come home you can enjoy the piano. And when I was a kid I didnít enjoy it because like all kids I wanted to be outside playing baseball and other sports and I had to practice. What kid do you know all of a sudden at six years old would say, ďYou know ma, I like this Mahler 2nd.Ē Itís sophisticated, it takes a while to develop a palette for this. My piano teacher was John Lewis [from the Modern Jazz Quartet]. I was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. But I didnít appreciate it because it was a sophisticated palette. Now that Iím older I really understand what my teacher was doing, but it takes a while, itís hard to develop your taste buds. You know, if you take a kid every day to eat hot dogs in MacDonaldís and then take him to a beautiful French restaurant heíll say, what is this?

Q: The MJQ was sophisticated, even intellectual.

A: Exactly. John had a refinement, it was very subtle, he was all about subtlety. So when youíre a teenager, the antithesis of subtlety is, ďletís go fast and loud, here we go.Ē

Q: Were you interested in rock and roll?

A: No, I never liked rock and roll. I liked jazz, I liked Oscar Peterson, I liked classical music, I liked Brazilian music, Latin, ethnic music.

Q: Growing up in Miami, you must have heard your share of Latin music.

A: I was exposed to a lot of Latin music but I didnít take to it at first. I was exposed to rock and roll but I never liked it because I got bored with the harmonic languageóI, IV, V chord progression were kind of dullóbut I really enjoyed Brazilian music. It had a very sophisticated harmony, as did the jazz music that was popular when I was a kid. I loved Oscar Peterson, I loved the Buddy Rich Big Band, I liked all these things, I liked George Gershwin, I love Concerto in F, I love the American in Paris.

These are really attractive because they had these rhythmic things that were happening and at the same time very sophisticated harmonic language. But Iíve always been on two sides of the fence. As a player, I want to play jazz. I donít want to sit there and learn a piano concerto all day and sit there with a metronome and say, ok, now weíve got it at sixty, letís go to sixty-two: I want to play. But as a composer, Iím a classical composer. So thatís basically it because I enjoy working on my big jigsaw puzzle with an orchestra score in front of me. Itís a game. How can I create something on this big page of paper? I enjoy that process.

Q: Did you go to school besides studying privately?

A: A mixture of both. My classic teacher was David Del Tredici but my real university is New York. You know why? Because I worked as an orchestrator when I came here. Itís very simple. You see the guy at the end of the table, how great he is, and you say, if Iím going to make a living, I have to be as good as him and it inspires you to learn and study and study because you canít hide behind a degree when youíre a commercial artist working for movies and Broadway and all that: you better be able to write. These guys taught me so much. I look at composing as apprenticing in a cobbler shop. Itís a craft first. You have to be a master craftsman. If youíre an artist thatís up to the gods. We have no control over that. But you have to have a craft thatís really strong.

Q: Iíve asked you if you could define jazz, how about classical?

A: Well, I define classical music as things that come from a history of orchestral music, the basic repertoire and things like that.

Q: Itís a word we all use, but it covers a very wide range.

A: Western classical. Itís a vague, generic term, because itís not really the Classical period. Itís like Kleenex, if itís tissue paper we say Kleenex. We say classical music it encompasses anything an orchestra does.

Q: Thereís Xenakis and thereís Bach.

A: But however you define it, classical music for me has to work on two levels. You have to have the intellectual level because itís an intellectual art form, itís the synthesis of our Western civilization. At the same time, it has to have the passion of a Latin or a rock and roll or something. And when you fuse this great passion with great intellectualism you have the Ninth symphony [Beethoven]. On every level it moves you. You can be a knucklehead and when you hear that chorus come in itís like the heavens open up, thereís something supernatural about it thatís transcendent, itís not even music any more, the philosophical energy that runs through our bodies. And then, at the same time you pick up a score and read it, itís a brilliant work of intellectual architecture. That is what great art has to be in classical music.

Q: Thatís a high standard to meet.

A: Well thatís the hallmark, itís out of the ball park. But every time you swing, thatís kind of the objective.

Q: Can a composer sustain a constant state of excitement or passion while writing? You must have your ups and downs.

A: Sure, absolutely. Sometimes you have writerís block, who knows. Thatís why itís good to diversify, thatís why I do jazz and classical. I think if I do the same thing it gets repetitive. But when Iím working on a ballet, then I do a childrenís opera, then I do a jazz thing, then I come back to the concerto, itís fresh again. I like this Baskin and Robbins 31 flavors analogy: if you just had to make chocolate ice cream all day long itís nuts but if you get to do blueberry and pistachio it makes life more interesting.

Q: I take it that your group, Jazz in the new Harmonic, is one of those flavors. Whatís that all about?

A: Itís both the name of my album and the group, which we just started. A lot of jazz language is rooted in Impressionistic classical language. Basically what I wanted to do is, instead of playing jazz with chords like G dominant7, A7#5, or minor or major, I said, letís get rid of this and I started using a palette based on atonality, clustersÖ

Q: How does this approach contrast with your orchestral music?

A: Well, two things. With The Jazz in the New Harmonic, the harmonic language is based on clusters. Thereís no chords in there as we know it. Itís clusters and polytonality, things like that. As the pianist, I improvise that on the spot.

My orchestral music, my classical music, is a hybrid of atonality and tonality mixed in. Sometimes itís a tonal line with a dissonant thing. Iím not trying to create atonality or tonality, itís sort of like going into a funhouse. Did you ever look in the mirror? Itís taking life and distorting it. I like to play with things and just come up with nice sounds pleasing to the ear. Iím not trying to achieve revolutionary things, itís just writing music thatís fun. First of all, I donít like to use linear intervals. I like to construct my melodies on larger intervals. I donít like to use whole tones and half tones. A lot of the melodies are constructed on augmented fourths, raised fifths, things like that. Now if you use a lot of flat fives, augmented fourths, raised fifths, to give a melody a larger interval, that melody goes up and itís kind of quirky, itís a blend of atonality, chromaticism, infused with this type of larger interval. What I like to do is write lines, but the lines are a minor second or a second apart. Theyíre actually parallel lines. If you look at a score-----letís look at it like this-------you can write a melody with a fine line of pencil. Then you could write a melody with a wide brush. If you look at the scores thereís three or four instruments playing the lines a

whole tone apart or a half step apart or in a cluster. So itís a parallel cluster that fools you into hearing it tonal but itís actually the mixture of the atonality under that. When it happens so fast, the ear says, is it tonal? Is it not tonal? It sounds tonal because the melodyís tonal, the root, but itís kind of goofy: You hear the top note but all of a sudden you hear all the other clusters in there.

Q: How many people are in Jazz in the New Harmonic?

A: Itís a quintet, saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums. And theyíre all great jazz musicians.

Q: Your other jazz group, The Body Acoustic, is more Latin jazz?

A: Yeah. Jazz in the New Harmonic came out of The Body Acoustic. Itís basically the Latin jazz, but itís based on contemporary harmony, as well.

Q: Getting back to your classical work for a minute, youíve written an opera that imagines Romeo and Juliet as an alternate history [Juliet and Romeo].

A: Yeah, I like to write off the wall as far as comic operas. Iím trying to get that on now, we did a reading and Iím going back to Europe to see what happens.

Q: Did you write the libretto?

A: Yeah, theyíre all my librettos, The Pig Opera and everything. The Pig is a satire on how we perceive art as Americans in this culture. In Romeo and Juliet, itís tragic because they donít have a chance to live their lives, but what if they had to get married and live the whole thing: The romance would go out. Itís nice when youíre fifteen, but then what?

Q: Whatís the music like?

A: Very angular type of things between tonality and atonality.

Both are chamber operas because I think in a comic opera you canít have a big orchestra. These are really designed for small theaters and to laugh and have a good time like they did in the old Mozart operas. I want my operas to be fun, I want them to fly.

Q: In addition to writing music, you also have your own record company.

A: Actually, we have two companies. We have the record company where we make records and we also own a company called HDtracks. With we distribute pretty much every label in high res audio. Thatís what I call HDtrack. And you can buy all your favorite albums as downloads. But the thing is when you buy a download from a commercial Mp3 site itís 128 kilobits per second. Now, a CD is 1,411 kb/second. HDtracks is up to 9,216. What does this mean? Itís very simple. If

someone practices their whole life to develop a beautiful tone on a Stradivarius, when you hear it in Mp3 it sounds like you bought it at a hardware store and the violinís made out of plywood. When you hear it back in high resolution on HDtracks, for the people that are interested, you hear the tonality, the burnish of the strings, you hear the forty years of violin lessons it took to create this tone. So for people that are passionate about music and want to hear music attentively, and have the ability to listen attentively on a nice stereo, is where you want to be. If you want to vacuum the house while youíre listening to music, donít do that.

Q: As a composer, whatís in the pipeline?

A: Well, what Iím working on now is, Iím going to do my guitar concertos. I have a concerto for guitar and a concerto for two guitars, itís like, a Latin album. And then I have three Poems, songs. The Guitar concertos and the Spanish Poems are based on Flamenco rhythms. These about ten years old but I never got around to recording them. They were the first pieces in my move to this urban and rhythmic style of composition. Thatís one. I want to do this ethnic record I have written. Thereís my third violin concerto and a piece for baritone singer and orchestra and then I also have my urban record, which is my Rap Symphony for ers and Orchestra. We recorded it, the young people love it and itís something they can relate to and I think itís important. It may turn a lot of people off but itís taking local food and using it. I mean I use local ingredients.

Q: Some rap is pretty raw, even offensive. Is this true for your piece?

A: No. I wrote the words, theyíre philosophical and while thereís some four-letter words in there itís done in the way David Mamet used the words. Nothing condescending about women or weird stuff like that, Iím not into that, but basically the words are about how a young person perceives society. Some of it has to do with rage and superficiality and all the things that we live with in the world today. For example, theyíre saying ďkill the Philharmonic,Ē which is a metaphor for saying that we canít relate to this thing, we have to make it relevant.

Click HERE to listen to David Chesky's interview with Charles Greenfield on WLRN radio