It is with pleasure that the editors of First : Listen – The Journal of Critical Listening through Music, dedicate this inaugural issue of the journal to the music and musical thought of Roger Reynolds. Seeking to excavate and disclose the essential and variegated energies of the composer’s musical imagination, this issue presents nine authors’ researches, each connected to a specific composition from Reynolds’ growing catalog of works. As Reynolds’ oeuvre embraces acoustic works, electroacoustic works, improvised works as well as music for video and for the stage, this collection of critical essays also offers a rare perspective of the trajectories and investigations of a composer unrestrained by stylistic schools or movements yet closely engaged with cutting edge technological innovations.

As a reflection of the concerns of the authors, the articles of this issue are grouped under three flexible headings: Process, Wholeness, and Collaboration. Process takes flight from Philippe Lalitte’s extraordinary opening text, and embraces Kevin Zhang’s and Michael Boyd’s exegeses of both work process and artistic evolution in the composer’s Odyssey (1993) and the composer’s evolution throughout the 1960s. Wholeness engages dimensions of thought critically adjacent to direct musical experience, connecting Reynolds’ work with the philosophy of identity in Jon Forshee’s text, with the concept of wholeness in Dzovig Markarian’s essay, and with the many modalities of ‘space’ in Kerry Hagan’s. From one perspective, Collaboration is a fitting heading for all the analyses included in this issue. Rachel Beetz reflects on a close engagement with the composer, while Joshua Charney’s text documents the importance of the composer’s collaborative process in situ; Paul Hembree, longtime research assistant to Roger Reynolds, offers a first-hand account of collaborative efforts on, and beyond, the technological cutting-edge.

By approaching this discussion of Reynolds’ work from different angles of theory and thought, we hope that this first issue plants an important seed that will grow with each subsequent entry into the First : Listen catalogue. Going forward, we shall further commit ourselves to curating valuable contributions to current discourses in the critical study of music. 

– The Editors

Joshua Charney
Elisabet Curbelo
Jon Forshee
Kevin Zhang