Dylan Mattingly

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love Song / Industrial Sunset

Performed by Classical Revolution.

Sometimes people write music because the world seems off-kilter, because the world seems to be missing something and there's only one way to fix it. And sometimes people write music because the world seems so overwhelmingly beautiful that you want to preserve it anyway you can. Love Song / Industrial Sunset is a single moment, a cross section of a split second on June 14th, 2008, somewhere around 8 PM on a roof in Berkeley, California, where fog floated pink from industrial smokestacks and little lights from across the Bay exuded some sort of strange otherworldiness like shattered glass, where a girl was climbing out a window and Bob Dylan levitated into clouds, a grid of streetlights and car lights and house lights and short breaths and fluttering speech and dancing and crying and wailing all swirled up like Big Sur waves, words gone out of comprehension like that music of moving, from streets just beyond recognition. Love Song / Industrial Sunset is the frozen, shaking, living representation of an explosion, expanding and falling and dying and fading in constant revolution, endlessly turning and turning like Leo Kottke on a twelve-string, like Messiaen's ocean of ecstatic brass, the imperfect but only record of the vast and undocumentable universe of a solitary instant.

Homeward Angel (Music for a Soundtrack to Clouds)

Performed by Symphony Parnassus, Conducted by Stephen Paulson

Homeward Angel (Music for a Soundtrack to Clouds) is a dream of flying engines from 3000 miles of night, a flight across the dreamstates, across mornings and airplanes, train whistles and broken headlights, across rain and motel lights in the dark, a sleepscape for those lighthouse nights when your window is so bright you can't see a foot outside.

The title comes not directly from the Thomas Wolfe novel Look Homeward, Angel but rather from a poem by George Mattingly (my father), entitled simply Homeward Angel. "We are all everywhere / in this jet age," he writes. This piece, written for the Symphony Parnassus, is for when even jet planes can't take you home before the sun rises, for when all of us can’t be everywhere all the time, for when not even part of is anywhere some of the time. Homeward Angel is my cloud atlas, for some things are always crossing.


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Comments [45]

Susan Sammis Goldson from Saugerties, NY

His music is exciting and deserves to be performed. It is a pleasure to listen to!

Apr. 28 2011 03:05 PM
John (Maryland)

The piece flows very well. I enjoyed it.

Oct. 07 2010 01:38 AM

Dylan's music, to put it simply, is fun to listen to. I love the way he plays with rhythms and creates shape without traditional melodies. It has enough variety to keep you listening, but the piece stays coherent, unlike much modern music. It reminds me a lot of John Adams!

Oct. 04 2010 07:37 PM
Sarah from Bard

Heard the world premiere of "Lighthouse" at today. It's an amplified string quartet about the special kind of homesickness Dylan feels when he leaves his beloved Bay Area to write music in cold, unforgiving New York. I forgot who I was three minutes into it. Words like "beautiful" and "moving" don't even come close to what it was like. It was hurtling along a train track down the Hudson, wind on everybody's faces, moments of playfulness and joy and more confusing things than that messing with your heart up and down and up and down until it sets you back down and you realize it took you back home. I'm as East Coast as it gets, and so are most of the people here--even so, it took us all back home.

Sep. 26 2010 04:21 AM
Becky from Bard

When I first listened to Dylan’s music, I was drawn into it rather than feeling like I was listening to a college student trying to compose. His music has an innate confidence and maturity that gives it complete authenticity. It is beautiful and complex. He manages to combine elements that don't seem to work together and get something intricate and sophisticated.

Sep. 16 2010 11:17 AM
Jeffrey from Bard

Dylan's music is nothing short of epic. I don't really know a lot about it, but I know good music once I hear it.

Sep. 16 2010 01:28 AM
mkh from dc

I especially like the Homeward Angel piece. Beautiful!

Sep. 14 2010 05:10 PM
Carol from New Jersey

An excellent composition by a hugely talented and promising young composer. We will be hearing more about this young man, whatever the outcome of this project. Can't wait to hear more!

Sep. 10 2010 06:29 PM
Alan Polinsky

A first rate modern composition.

Aug. 10 2010 12:27 PM

Music is alive and humanity has a beating heart! Listening to Dylan Mattingly's music always feels like a kind of affirmation that creativity and honesty and emotion will always be a part of the world. This is music that puts its loving arms around the present, as if nobody ever had the nerve to ask if classical music was dead. Dylan tells it like he feels it and nothing gets in the way.

On top of it all, Dylan's pieces are refreshing and fun for both performers and audiences. Hits you like a train rolling through a sheet of water.

Aug. 07 2010 02:10 AM

Dylan's work is thoughtful and mature, and his vibrant personality never fails to shine through his music. I cannot think of any composer more deserving of this opportunity.

Aug. 07 2010 12:39 AM
Jenna from New York

Dylan's work plays with your heartstrings. When I first heard Homeward Angel, sitting in a dark room lit only by the computer and the sounds emanating from it, right near the composer himself with his eyes shut and his arms conducting probably of their own accord, I was awed not only by how absorbed he was in its fantastic beauty, but by the depth of the piece that I could never fully understand in a thousand years, not as a mere mortal. It ties those strings, strings like a cello or a harp, into bows of glee, and then knots of pain, and quiet contemplation, all within ten or fifteen minutes. I may never have listened to music more intriguing, or more subtly complex, more filled with canyons and clouds and the wonders of the world, and that is the mark of an incredible beginning for what will leave a permanent mark on western musical culture.

Jul. 18 2010 12:20 AM
Nellie from NYC

I hear a plethora of sound that begin and end with the same curiosity. Dylan's music might start off modern sunny, climax mystical and end up eloquently compact, but no matter where the ride takes us we are constantly asked to remember we are still on Dylan's ride-never bored, always digging deeper into sound, questioning the limits of what sound can do and accessing a multitude of emotions through that sound.

Jul. 05 2010 10:50 PM
Daniel Rutkowski from New York City

Go Dylan. That's all I have to say.

Jul. 05 2010 02:10 PM

The music is amazing. The composer is amazing. I doubt any award could go to a more passionate, dedicated, talented, inspired nominee. I have been to concerts of his and the music, unlike many other composers', tends to course through one's body so that it is not only a listening experience but a full body, physical, tangible confrontation with one's self. It is truly incredible and I think one could call it revolutionary if they felt so inclined. Honestly and innovation like Mattingly's, is hard to find, and is maybe not even worth searching any farther for. Just listen, and the rest will come to you.

Jun. 29 2010 12:43 AM
Nathan Kersey-Wilson from Berkeley

This is really cool stuff. To throw in an example, I love the eerie sound of the scraping, sliding strings. Keep it up, Dylan! I hope you this thang.

Jun. 25 2010 01:30 PM

Dylan's music and Dylan's being are essentially inseparable. To spend time with him is to spend time with his music--to listen to his music is, in a very real sense, to spend time with him.

This is the best way to explain what a pleasure and a privilege it is to be his friend.

Jun. 24 2010 12:13 AM
Dan from Washington, DC

Really remarkable, incredibly imaginative. Reminds me a lot of Aaron Copeland for some reason.

Jun. 23 2010 09:44 PM
Dan from Washington, DC

Really remarkable, incredibly imaginative. Reminds me a lot of Aaron Copeland a lot for some reason.

Jun. 23 2010 09:43 PM
Annie Sandholtz from Sidney, Montana

The maturity and complexity of Mattingly's compositions is significant - the fact that I have to listen to it several times to begin wrapping my brain around it shows that it is real art music, not to be taken lightly.

Jun. 23 2010 08:26 PM

Every piece of Dylan's I have ever heard is remarkable. His classical compositions usually make me want to see a ballet choreographed to his music, though they are always so eerie and beautiful they inspire feelings and stories all on their own. He truly has a gift.

Jun. 23 2010 02:55 PM
Rod Brown from Oakland. California

As it happens, I'm one who has only very gradually begun to appreciate classical music. At age 57, it may be a little late for me to really "get it."

But I agree whole-heartedly with everything N8MA said above.

I think Dylan Mattingly surpasses accessibility by creating works that are bursting with their very own hearts, and their own love.

Jun. 23 2010 02:50 PM
Kerk from Massachusetts

As co-founder of Band That Plays Good Music, Dylan knows what good music is, and also how to make music that is a lot better than good music. This music is great! So, if you want him to make some more great music...

Jun. 23 2010 02:07 PM
Mary from Boston

Dylan's music is fabulous - it allows one to explore new places and dimensions whenever the time is taken to really listen.

Jun. 23 2010 12:01 PM
Sydney from Lafayette, CA

This blew my mind. I can hardly believe a teenager wrote it. But then again, it's Dylan.

Jun. 23 2010 11:58 AM
David from New York

The music of Dylan Mattingly speaks to the joys, sorrows, realities, and imaginations in the life we live today. These pieces cross boundaries that are not often traversed and especially not in combination. It reaches out to listeners of all generations and walks of life, across limitations of genre, and beyond the traditional limitations of art. These pieces, in fact, effectively render such long-established divisions erroneous in the present world. To experience his music, whether through listening or performing, is a remarkably enjoyable experience. It is always fresh, original, and fun. Behind this music is a true and tireless master of his craft who will, without doubt, soon be among the most sought-after composers of our time.

Jun. 22 2010 07:14 PM
Jenny from Massachusetts

I think what I love most about Dylan's music is that you can feel it under your skin, pulling you along into this sort of in-between state where everything is layered and beautiful. You can feel the love that he has poured into making his music and he invites the listener to feel the same. Amazing.

Jun. 22 2010 02:28 PM
Hannah from Oakland, CA

These pieces are really great, and I was lucky enough to be there for both of the performances. Seeing these played live is an especially wonderful experience because you can see how much fun the musicians are having. Never dull, never annoying, this music is interesting and engaging. Dylan's music has an element of joy that for me makes it truly irresistible - in every one of his pieces there is always this great moment where you can't stop your butt from dancing in your seat as the music takes you over.

Jun. 22 2010 02:10 PM
Hannah from Boston

Dylan is a great musician and an amazing composer. Listening to his music really does transport you to somewhere else, where thoughts and ideas just seem to flow and merge. These peices are great.

Jun. 22 2010 12:14 PM
N8Ma from New York

"Accessibility" has been a contested buzzword for at least a generation now. Does the composer hate the audience, or does s/he embrace the audience as an equal partner, or (gasp) does the composer pander? A lot of people following composers and the new music scene nowadays lump composers into one of these three categories, and thereby pass judgement on them.

What I like so much about Dylan's music is that he offers a completely different approach to sorting wheat from chaff, as it were. Instead of accessibility, he seems so much more interested in playability. By playability I mean, do the musicians themselves ENJOY this music? The answer, judging simply by the recordings, not any live performances, is a definite yes. And this is just so so refreshing. Maybe his ideas jar you, or you're surprised by a particular turn in a phrase or a sonority, or whatever. But you can tell the musicians LOVE to play this stuff, and I think one of the reasons we fork over our $60 to hear classical music is because we want to see musicians share something they believe in, something they're "grooving" to. I see the excitement in the faces of a string quartet performing Beethoven, or the elation (and fear, pain, anxiety) of a Mahler symphony orchestra in full flight, and I remember what it's like to be alive.

Mattingly's writing seems to both challenge and inspire his interpreters, and that for me is fascinating. Too often, with new music, it's like man vs. machine as players grapple with making a very "thorny" new piece sound exciting, musical, enjoyable. With Mattingly, music is an act of pleasure, and you hear it in these recordings.

I think Orpheus would actually enjoy playing a premiere of his, instead of just mopping sweat from the brow and sighing a collective "whew, I'm glad that's over" when the curtain goes down...

Jun. 22 2010 09:34 AM
layla from New York

Dylan's music transports me. There is no doubt he is a wonderful and accomplished composer. His music unfolds to me like gorgeous and outlandish scenery, yet amongst the estranged sounds and progressions I am comforted and uplifted. GO DYLAN!

Jun. 20 2010 07:21 PM

Both of these pieces (excerpts) draw their strength from balance. Balance between forward and lateral motion; between simplicity and complexity; between passion and contemplation. Balance between what happens on the surface and what's happening beneath. Never static or simply "centered," the music is dynamic, beautifully asymmetrical, and generating energy at every turn.

Jun. 20 2010 07:09 PM
Miriam Huppert from Atlanta

This music is simply incredible, and absolute joy to listen to! The fact that it was created by someone so young only serves to enhance the awe-inspiring tones. Dylan Mattingly is truly one of the great musicians of our time and I feel truly lucky to be able to be involved in his music in any manner.

Jun. 20 2010 07:00 PM
Diyang from SF

I had the great fortune to listen to Mattingly's work while eating. His music, like great wine, complemented the meal. However, it is not limited to only that! In fact, his music complements all parts of life! It takes the mundane and makes it transcendent. If classical composers are like real numbers, Mattingly is the 2pi to their 6.

Jun. 20 2010 06:37 PM
Miriam Huppert from Atlanta

This music is simply incredible, and absolute joy to listen to! The fact that it was created by someone so young only serves to enhance the awe-inspiring tones. Dylan Mattingly is truly one of the great musicians of our time and I feel truly lucky to be able to be involved in his music in any manner.

Jun. 20 2010 06:19 PM

I've been listening to Mattingly's music for years. It is always fresh and exciting - it never sounds like anyone else except him and it is always exploring new territories. Never boring and always evolving- using all the idioms of music he hears from rock to folk to jazz to classical to world music, without a sense of separation or judgmental classification . The one constant is a sense of joy and wonder in life and an exuberant pleasure in being alive.

Jun. 20 2010 06:12 PM
Sarah from Washington, DC

Dylan lives and breathes music, something a lot of other people claim to do. He has never, to my knowledge, claimed to do it, but he does it in as close to a literal sense as I could imagine. Although he already had an overwhelming musical career by the time I met him, I have been lucky enough to closely witness the creation of several of his works this year. His music is masterfully constructed and delightful listening, to be sure, but what's special about Dylan's music is how it's saturated with the incredible passion and love of life he spreads to everyone around him. His pieces don't make me think of the well-deserved honors they've received, but of the games he plays with his music, the shrines he builds within it to the world's worth of things he so earnestly adores. The post-it note diagram on the wall, a travel map to help him tame the joys and sorrows of journeying into a piece I'm listening to now. His agonizing deliberation over which preposition best describes the homesickness and bittersweet emotions that created "Lighthouse," my favorite of his works. The fact that his sense of wonder, despite his incredible knowledge and talent, ignites whenever he's faced with a miraculous moment in music. These are qualities absolutely unique to Dylan, among the hundreds and hundreds of musicians I've known. His music is a gift, to the musical world and to the souls and spirits of any size of audience.

Jun. 20 2010 06:08 PM
Linnea from Thousand Oaks, CA

Dylan Mattingly is without a doubt one of the most talented musicians that I have ever met. The honor of knowing him personally and witnessing firsthand the enthusiasm with which he applies himself to his art is an absolute privilege that I can’t appreciate enough. While I don’t have the technical knowledge to express how I feel about Dylan’s music, I can say that his pieces are pure emotion and honesty, and because of that, he gets my vote every time.

Jun. 20 2010 03:37 PM
rachel Machtinger


Jun. 20 2010 02:27 PM
alec from Berkeley

When we were 13 or 14, Mr. Mattingly and I were in a band. It wasn't anything that you might call great art, but this is. Dylan's music is always interesting and involving. No one deserves this as much as he.

Jun. 20 2010 01:16 PM
Linnea from California

Dylan Mattingly is without a doubt one of the most talented musicians that I have ever met. The privilege of knowing him personally and witnessing firsthand the dedication and enthusiasm with which he applies himself to his art is an experience that I will never forget. His pieces are pure emotion, their intensity tempered by a seemingly effortless grace.

Jun. 20 2010 02:22 AM
Albert Behar from Movement HQ

Dylan's "Homeward Angel" is like taking off with folk music blaring in your ipod earbuds and flying away to neverland on the back of a unicorn. He's not just a composer, he is a pilot of a starship and he takes the audience with him on a splendiforous journey to the uncharted courses of the human psyche. And I'm just getting started...

Jun. 19 2010 09:57 PM

I've had the pleasure of both playing Dylan's music and also working with him as a conductor, and I can't think of a musician and artist who deserves this honor more. These pieces are wonderful.

Jun. 19 2010 07:42 PM
Elaine Mattingly from Newton, Iowa

As I read the composer's description of Love Song/Industrial Sunset, I am, in reality, wearing a Bob Dylan concert T-shirt. A cosmic cross-country synergy? Maybe, maybe not. But, it does make complete sense that composer Mattingly's capturing of a singular "otherworldly" moment harkens the likes of the esteemed Mr. Dylan—even from the corn-laden but global industrial landscape of Newton, Iowa in summer (a rural county that was, until recently, the corporate headquarters of Maytag Corporation). Honesty is difficult to mask—whether it be from the mind of an aging folk master or from the fertile intellect of an emerging classical composer. When the truth is told in art, let us all celebrate!

Jun. 19 2010 05:58 PM
Dieter from San Francisco, Bay Area

I love Dylan's music. I just had the opportunity to go to the Symphony Parnassus concert, which featured the premiere of 'Homeward Angel' , what a treat!

Jun. 19 2010 05:49 PM

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