Beginning the application process for a terminal degree reinforced the, admittedly fairly cliché, idea that moments or months like these will have more of an impact on the trajectory of my life than perhaps any other. I approach this with a great appreciation for the weight that turning-points like these carry; they become a time of reflection as well as a reminder of the thick haze that is the future. While I cannot say what the future has in store, come whatever may, my time at Bowling Green State University helped clarify what it is I do and what I want to do with my music. Specifically, my interest in investigating how the visual arts can inform my music and other composers about structure, shape, rhythm, and a myriad of other concepts that we, as composers, have in our vocabulary, but that suffers from a lack of literature and theoretical rigor that could open doors to fascinating new ways of thinking about and teaching composition.
In reflection I have realized that this is a deep-rooted artistic desire that traces back to when I was a child. As a family we would go somewhere for vacation every summer. I think that there, in those trips, is where my yearning for travel and the idea of “place” became instilled in me. Growing up in a small, rural town in Nebraska, I never really appreciated the place that I lived until I was a few years into my undergrad traveling constantly with a nationally-touring rock band, studying abroad in Norway, and performing regularly in orchestras, and several ensembles that my ideas had begun to change in me.
Eventually I did realize that Nebraska, shockingly, is a beautiful place. The world is quiet there; I could say “placid” and it would be accurate, but I would mean it as a term of endearment. The engulfing expanse of grass, and the dauntingly wide landscapes are immediate in effect, but temporal in comprehension. This experience is something that has forced its way into my musical language. Much of the music I write is quiet, fairly slow and delicate, but there is always activity and constant development of material that, I believe, aids in my music becoming an object in an environment as much as a sonic experience over time. Additionally, my musical and academic interests in composers Morton Feldman, Brian Eno, the Wandelweiser collective, La Monte Young, Klaus Lang, and Evan Johnson, as well as artists Mark Rothko, Michelle Garbner, Chun Kwang Young, Sol LeWitt, and Leigh McCloskey, to name a few, have helped me develop a musical language that allows me to tap in to this auditory experience.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe that visual art captures these ideas of objectivity, place, immediacy, and quiet stasis perhaps better than music alone can. To that, I think that there is so much to be learned from the techniques used in the visual arts and how they might be used in musical craftsmanship on a technical level beyond any programmatic elements that could subjectively be placed in sonic medium. That is why I have devoted the past few years to develop my own methods and techniques for my craft. Although my methods are perhaps in a primitive state, I am constantly trying to challenge my ideas, reshape them, and develop them into a strong artistic and academic statement.
I want to share the ideas I’ve written about above with as many people as I can so that this philosophical and compositional approach might stand on its own as something others might wish to investigate. I’ve enjoyed the trip on my own enough that I would not want anyone who might enjoy it as well to miss out.
Kory Reeder’s music investigates meditative and atmospheric qualities, ideas of objectivity, place, immediacy, and quiet overall stasis but while maintaining activity and constant development of material that unfolds slowly and creates its own sonic world in which it resides. In an effort to achieve this, his work experiments with compositional techniques found in visual arts and how they may be incorporated with music structurally or as a formal element. His music has also used structural elements found in nature and astronomy, as well as using historical timelines as proportional and formal elements in composition.
Kory has frequently collaborated with theater and dance programs, writing incidental music for Jack Garrison and the University of Nebraska at Kearney Theater productions of Euripides’ Hecuba, Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, Dayna DeFilippis 2016 Dance Recital, and the BGSU MicrOpera program. His music has been performed across North America, Australia, and Europe and has been featured on the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, the New Music gathering, Composer’s Circle, The New Music Conflagration’s Traveling Tunes // Traveling Sounds, the national BGSU Graduate Student Forum, the Bowling Green New Music Festival, the Electroacoustic Barn Dance, New Music on the Point, Noise Floor, New Music on the Bayou, SCI Conferences, and has been selected and performed by the Bowling Green State University New Music Ensemble. His work for Hecuba was awarded by The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for achievement in Original Composition Music and Sound Effects, he has been an ASCAP Morton Gould Award finalist, and artist-in-residence at Arts, Letter, and Numbers in Averill Park, NY, and the Kimmel, Harding, Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Kory is currently pursuing a PhD. in music composition at the University of North Texas. He is a former student of Mikel Kuehn, Elainie Lillios, Anthony Donofrio and Darleen Cowles Mitchel, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a Master of Music in composition from Bowling Green State University.