Moreover, a lot of contemporary music written for performance in a classical context is a far cry from Mozart, Beethoven, and the "classical period" as most people understand it. And so the composers of this more recent form are often grouped under the term "new music," freed from historical baggage by the virtues of meaningless branding.
Meet the Composer, for its part, stays out of these weeds and sticks to the sounds themselves. For Sirota, music is an ineffable magic, a thrill built from bizarre sensations. "Music is weird and nonverbal," she explains. "I can play you an interval and it will make you feel something... The compression of the air in a certain way makes us feel stuff. That's very, very odd."
Sirota explores these compressions with her guests, driving at the sounds that make each composer's work unique. She asks Kaija Saariaho about French Spectral music, Anna Thorvaldsdottir about the Icelandic language, and Caroline Shaw about Tuvan throat singing. Morton Subotnick is enlisted to explain the origins of electronic music, while John Luther Adams talks about the ancient and natural soundscapes of Alaska.