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You're listening to music. Give us. The vision of music in the School of the arts at Southern Methodist University here in Dallas which is in Texas and the words about to be spoken bring such information as this for instance this program through the facilities of all of the stations of the national educational radio network. Well perhaps not all of them but at least the most enlightened ones those which have a sense of community responsibility and an intellectual program director. And if they are caring is a 30 minute package of sound made up of words and music the words being used to tell you about the music which was and you have no doubt by now gathered was written entirely by
me. Now this week there are so many words contained in some of the music itself that it will be my endeavor to make my announcements brief and to the point such as what is about to happen within the next few seconds. We will hear a newly published piece for a band titled psychometric overture as meaningless a title as I'll bet you've ever run up against meaningless that is until I explain it all fully by saying that a cycle indicates something which happens again and again. A metric is a measure of time. An overture is something that happens before something else does. So with that completely lucid explanation we'll hear the music itself now which in this instance is being played by the United States Army Band. The composer as we so frequently say on this program conducting psychometrics overture. Right.
With. Us.
Cycling metrics forward has been the opening number on music by Don Gill is played for us by the United States Army Band from Fort Myers Virginia. And now that same United States Army Band under the baton of its commanding officer Colonel Samuel Arlen is going to be heard in a recently recorded score done especially for this broadcast anything hardly any other program in this country or elsewhere and say Colonel Samuel conducts the United States Army Band and the second movement of my symphony number one for a band titled The pleasant years. The pleasant say in a Stalin takes a look into boyhood days and cameras are
the second movement of my person from the four band has assessment played for us by Colonel Simon and the United States Army Band in a tape prepared specially for this broadcast. And next we're going to hear a repeat of my left handed lecture called music to be incidental by some of the same type of humor you'll find in my soon to be published book The unfinished symphony conductor is contained in this piece. I thought you might like to hear it on the show. I mention that only because I really can't plug my book directly on this program. So I say such things as some of the same type of humor that you will find soon in my soon to be published book The Anthony symphony conductor is contained within this piece. So let's listen quietly and don't giggle out loud too much as we hear me narrate something I pasted together out of an old library of recorded scores which I cause seriously. Music to be incidental. Into the music isn't one important. Far from it. Rather it's
that kind of musical performance a very special service rather than it is just music for its own sake. Actually it's a very good thing because while silicon Holzer move aside from one side of the stage over to the other side of the stage to greet her lover or arrange for a prima ballerina to be in the right spot at the right time. If it weren't for and so they're all music so it's no accident that the incidental music is supplied by the composer to take care of the necessary stage action. And while we usually don't think of it this way the largest part of an opera with the exception of set pieces big Arias and so forth. The largest part of an opera is all incidental music of one form or another. And in order to bring you up on the subject of the composer and writing incident music let's approach the whole subject by example rather than precept. And to begin. Let's take for instance a situation in which a young man has just been told that his very rich and wealthy father is dead.
I'll play the part of the lawyer who has a job of telling the young man the sad news. John John I can't find words exactly how to tell you but your father is dead. Customary and cue music one would write something very sad and look who cares. Of course if John hadn't been sad about it we might have used some incidental music that went like this. The music you see describes John's happiness over the fact that he will now inherit all the money that his then to father had kept from him. So now the scene would play John M the lawyer again. I can't find words to tell you but your father is dead. Now taken out of context this all sounds a bit on the weird side I'll admit but
let's replay the whole scene with still another line with a lawyer. John I don't know how to tell you but your father is dead. And John I hate to tell you this too but you've been cut out of the will completely. We'll leave John and his problems and try to analyze the use of incidental music or cue music in its use in drama. Let's take the following set of words and see how it works. First I'm going to say them without music and then we'll say them exactly the same way and put music behind them. OK I'll begin. It was one of those nights when the world seemed to be a dark and desperate place. Dark clouds scattered across the face of the full moon given by a whim that wailed in the eves of the old house that stood by the edge of the swamp. The hour
was midnight and time for the ghost of Kilkenny to walk the creaking floors again. Not too dramatic. Well let's try it now with music and try to read it the same way. It was one of those nights when the world seemed to be a dark and desperate place. Dark clouds God of the cross the face of the full moon given by a wind that wailed in the eves of the old house. It's good by the edge of the swamp. The hour was midnight. And time for the ghost of the old and. The wall the creaking floors again. I think you'll agree with me that the music definitely sets the scene so that the words now become believable. Well in order not to belabor the point of music's importance
in underscoring. Let's turn now to the illustrative music and to best illustrate how that's done let me edit out a few examples and attempt to show you some of the effects they've Illustrated. To begin with we'll take a standard type of laugh. You know something funny is said in the orchestra responds. That's the type one can call an amplifier or a punchline commentator. Suppose I said Who was that woman I saw you with last night and you said that was no woman. That was my wife. And then the music said. Let's take another simple one. In my ballet shindig I wanted to portray a man with the hiccups caused by the intake of too much John Barleycorn as it were. The music went like this.
But later he was supposed to stumble and almost fall down on his rather sour invasion. And still another score. I was an orchestra you know I had a dream sequence and of course everybody knows that the harp is the standard instrument used to indicate that a dream is about to take place. You use a glissando and boom you've got a dream sequence like this. Sleepy. Let's try it again. I see you're all transformed by the magic of the glissando and the mood of sleepy togetherness. And as long as you're in that mood why don't I just make up a little story about a monster who was a composer and he has a bunch of cues to illustrate my zany yarn and we'll set the scene for this allegory with music designed
to set the scene for allegories. Once upon a time there was a monster who was a composer which in itself was a different. Many posters have been monsters but he was the first month of the quarter that the successful hold or not at all the whole monster he goes absolutely no one was afraid of him and he couldn't even get a part on one of the city TV shows. And as if this were not enough of a handicap he was married to a tone deaf battleaxe who hated music even more than she hated Marvin monster. As our story opens Marvin is sitting in his study trying to write as the bells from the bell tower of nearby campus the college strike the hour.
Mine said Marvin Munster it's getting late. I'd better hurry on never get my symphony finished. Marvin Munster was writing a symphony and that's why he said that. He had Marvin that he is a curious method of composition. He had made a simple violin out of one of his wife's old brooms. And he put it under his chin to try out his theme once more. Sometimes Martin whistled. And when he didn't. Every time he did that witch of a wife of his slammed him up the side of the head with a garbage can cover so he couldn't hear straight. Just because he whistled.
Marvin said and I quote. Ouch. And then he muttered. Doesn't sing I was garbage can cover his cost money. Well. Back to his symphony. It was a good thing Marvin thought. But it needed something. Zelda his wife who worked as a wedge between midnight and 5:00 a.m. suggested his suggestion. I forgot to tell you she couldn't talk she was a plastic with you know the kind you get is a bonus with breakfast food these days. Zelda said Marvin Munster. What you have just not said is a very good idea. I think I'll write it down. And he did. The wife has just suggested that he get away from the use of conventional musical instruments and join the avant garde Marvin thought she said National Guard in trying to enlist but they didn't want any composers
much less monsters. Marvin went into the kitchen and selected a whole batch of pots and pans and skillets and knives and forks and a couple of glasses and then went to work. And in no time at all he had a new theme. Quickly he added it to his other theme. I've got it. And he was so happy that he started the whistle forgetting what was going to happen to him if he did. Watch it Marvin. Not only am I a monster complaining at the end of his wits but I'm getting to be a flat headed monster. And then pointing his systolic cathode ray disintegrator after he
shouted Take that. The police came of course and at the trial the judge said to him Marvin monster you are condemned to die. It was sad for him. Here he was in jail behind bars and bars behind in his symphony writing. There was nothing to do but escape. A little. A monster got away free at last free while the posse was in hot pursuit. Closer and closer they came. And then with a volley
that would have sunk the Queen Mary. Poor Marvin Mons through the best. MARTIN monster. To have it. There. Somewhere there is a sound of genius the quiet throbbing of a heart beat the bullets wouldn't be all. That on he would hear his symphony of the future. Every day they play it up and composers haven't. It makes him happy of course. The only problem is Zelda was there too and when he whistled. Now how in the world is he fine garbage can lids up there.
Well all. And as they say in church. Thus ended the reading. Music to be incidental by a left handed lecture of sorts has just completed our sixth program and music read on it was a series being brought to you over the facilities of the national educational radio network and census more or less completes this week's program I'd like to close it by quoting something which may indeed sum up this experience you just have to quote naturally will be from my forthcoming book The Anthony symphony conductor. And it's from the front. He's already clearly snus says our author Mr. Gillis is not so foolish. Except when you're fooled by that oh well how profound Can you get
folks and now since having quoted from the book I have to say that permission was granted to me by the publishers of the Anthony symphony conductor who are or is as the case may be. Pemberton press of Austin Texas. That's going off the air with a clean conscious I can invite you back next week to hear an elegy done and then. Because 100 anniversary the world celebrates this year and its launch to music give us originates on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas and it's brought to you as I keep saying by the National Education o Radio Network.
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The music of Don Gillis III
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Southern Methodist University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features composer Don Gillis highlighting some of his favorite pieces from his oeuvre.
Series Description
This series spotlights the works of American composer Don Gillis and is hosted by the man himself.
Media type
Composer: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
Host: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
Producer: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
Producing Organization: Southern Methodist University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-39-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:43
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Chicago: “The music of Don Gillis III; 6,” 1967-10-10, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “The music of Don Gillis III; 6.” 1967-10-10. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: The music of Don Gillis III; 6. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from