"I grew up very much outside of the classical tradition, not really knowing that it existed, not knowing that composers existed or that people still wrote music," Little reflects.
At first, classical music, particularly Mozart, felt foreign and false. "It represented this polite, neat, well-packaged culture which I didn't really relate to. Aside from the musical theater, I was listening to death metal, which was the opposite of that. It was aggressive, messy -- brutal is a term that's used a lot in that genre. The more brutal it is, the better."
"Classical music struck me as living in denial. You have this music that is so perfect and that's just not true, that's not life."
But as Little searched websites for ways to become a film composer and feverishly tried to follow their instructions, he came across recommendations for certain classical works. He started with Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." Nearly every day for months, he spent hours listening to the composition. He bought himself a score and flipped the pages while listening to his cassette -- until he could follow Stravinsky's challenging notation through the end.
"'The Rite of Spring' was huge," Little remembers. "It was such a visceral piece. It was brutal in the same way that this extreme metal was -- it acknowledges the sort of underbelly or the non-enlightenment period sorts of things about humanity."
Ditto, man. The Rite was a major turning point for me too. It was also the first piece that I didn't feel ashamed to play for my non-classical musician friends (which vastly out-numbered my classical musician friends). When in doubt I'd try and convince them of how "trippy" it was, especially when in the correct state of mind (ahem...).
What has lingered of my Rite-ophilia has been an appreciation for the effective marriage of raw, tribal emotion and extreme precision. For myself, this evolved into a love and appreciation for intense electronica - jungle/drum 'n' bass, hardcore, breakcore; for David it seems to have developed into a love for intricate metal - death, speed, math-metal, etc. Even attempting to integrate these styles into concert hall is a daunting task, but luckily for David, it's less an act of integration than it is a natural fusion. A great example of this is Sweet Light Crude, a piece written for his rock ensemble, Newspeak (you can hear SLC and more here on his website).
Read the whole article, it's good stuff. And make sure to come check out several of David's pieces (including excerpts from his upcoming Opera, Dog Days, a collaboration with the wonderful librettist, Royce Vavrek) this coming Friday (7/17/09) at Galapagos Art Space.