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And in 56 DVM as you know I composed a work called was no exotic exotic birds for solo piano with winds and percussion using motivic material which was based on actual bird calls. Now this is something that has occupied methe EON's attention for many many years but it has been only in the last dozen years or so that mess you know has limited himself almost entirely to this bird called music. And exotic is one of the most striking of these late works. This preoccupation with bird calls as compositional raw materials has placed mess you know in a curious position in contemporary music. Many critics composers and musicians simply laugh off this whole messy all phase as a naive miscalculation and a return to a sort of half mystic half romantic program magic music something that such critics feel the 20th century did away with once and for all others again feel that there is no inherent
limitation in the use of bird calls and that what message does with these is of such striking originality that the question of its origin is really rather academic. Be that as it may I feel that this program must at least take cognizance of this development in misyar creativity. Was the exit of teak not only used as birdsong material but it is also based in its rhythmic organization on ancient Hindu and Greek rhythmic modes. In fact in order to really understand Micio as music especially his late music it is necessary to realize that he is a man quite outside the general pattern of composers. Quite apart from the general image we have of the composer and the artist in our society. Messi is first and foremost a mystic. The so-called Catholic mystic and he has stated that all of his music is created quote for the glorification of God unquote.
Moreover he was always interested in certain other extra musical preoccupations while still a student at the Paris Conservatory in the late twenties. Messi all began to study Greek and Hindu rhythms all manner of exotic folklore. The rhythm cycles of the stars in the universe the rhythms and cycles of time patterns of human existence of atoms and also the specific rhythms and tone colors of bird calls. Based on these studies then evolve theories or rather a whole philosophy of durations. It is a philosophy of time values which he sees as being operative in the world on several temporal levels. For example the stars according to him operate within the longest temporal spans mountains and geological formations with some much shorter time spans than the
still lesser durations of human life. The very short lifespans of insects and the shorter ones the shortest ones of all the atoms he sees all of these temporal durations as part of a larger interrelated time pattern which governs our universe and in some of his works. MICIO has translated these interrelated time patterns into music in terms of the graduated speed levels or what he calls chromatic durations. This concept quite naturally led to messy I was concerned with the variability and organizational properties of rhythm and in turn led to his specific practices of subjecting basic rhythms to augmentation and diminution procedures rhythmic canons reversible and nonreversible rhythms as symmetrical and symmetrical expansions of rhythmic patterns and so on. By the 50s these ideas had crystallized in messages work into specific methods. Even his
studies in the serialization of musical elements studies which have been so influential in the new European music are to be seen really not as an attempt to abstract rhythms so much but rather as a subordinate aspect of the aforementioned larger philosophical and mystic precept. So that it is at least demonstrably that messy Owen's preoccupation with what may at first glance appear to be superficial extramusical effect catching devices is in reality in reality the reflection of an translation into musical terms. I have a whole view of life and the universe on the part of a very complex human being with a philosophic mystic turn of mind. Before I play so teak I thought it would be good to hear a few excerpts from the first miss your own work which specifically combined birdsong materials and the influence of Hindu or Greek rhythmic modes.
It is logical that such a work be written for the organ in that mess Young is unquestionably in many ways the greatest organist of our time. The work that I'm now speaking of is his 1951 leave the dog. In other words the organ book in the manner of Bach's line. I'd like you to hear two movements of this work. The third and fourth in the third movement three Hindu rhythms are used two of which are subjected to a number of augmentations while the other rhythm occurs always in the original in its original form. The overall structuring of these pieces is basically the same as I described in regard to the rhythm etudes of 1949 1950. Another was a combination of repetition and mere repetition and then using both of these in conjunction with a variable order or variable sequence of musical events within a piece.
The actual musical material is thus limited in amount but is used with an almost ascetic economy. Does the success or nonsuccess of this process depends largely on the beauty of the original material used in the material itself and the skill with which the various sections can be juggled around to form an interesting total continuity. Let's hear this number three of the organ book entitled the hands of the abyss. A phrase taken from the prophets and the Old Testament. One
thing. One thing. One thing. One thing.
Was. Was. My. House. Was. My.
For me all mystical and metaphysical overtones aside the most striking aspect of that piece was the sound of it. They can hardly be any question that Messi who was I should have mentioned playing the organ himself on that recording has realized the first new aural temporal conception of the organ in several hundred years I would think the way he uses organ registration is really extraordinary. And even on the to the need to a organ in Paris which I understand is in some ways a very poor instrument. Messi gets the most remarkable sounds out of that instrument. And I must say for me personally hearing this recording has for the first time made me anxious to compose something for the organ. I didn't know that such and so 90s were possible on the instrument. The next piece which I may play only a part of is called Shaun White zero. It's part of the leave the dog of course was O which means songs of birds and a
self-explanatory title. It combines Hindu rhythms with bird calls and again messy and organ registration is unique in its temple diversity and in its use of strident sonorities. Why. Why. Why.
Why. Why. Why.
Hey. Thank you thank. YOU THANK YOU THANK. Her.
Thank you. Why. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Why. Why.
So much for the Oregon book. In Levey It is was still 1953 and was an exotic transferred similar material as in the Oregon book. Combining ancient rhythmic modes birdcalls and his own contemporary techniques and consigning them over to the instrumental route. It would be underestimating miss Phil's ear for the instruments to say as some critics do. And that he merely transcribed his organ music for the orchestra. And this is not true. It may be a fine distinction but it would be more proper to say that misuse orchestration is a projection of great aural sensitivity of what may have originally have been conceived as an organ registration to the orchestra. This accounts for the great individualization of registers that occurs in mess you know as orchestral music. Instruments are generally relegated to one range one register which gives each piece a definitely linear continuity and a certain
affinity to Oriental music in general. Also in so far as this can be characterized as one facet of the quote frozen unquote the static quality of messy music it seems to form part of a larger total conception which is in turn a reflection of messianic personality and psychological nature. There is also something frozen about the use of ancient modes from an essentially dead or no longer existing culture. But the fascination in messy as music arises perhaps to a large extent from just this paradox the paradox that these static frozen concepts are filled so to speak with actual son material of the most extraordinary sumptuousness and aural splendor. In other words two concepts which are essentially antithetical to each other. Are combined here and fused into one eye to stick entity. Let's now listen to the exotic by Olivier Messiaen with the
pianist. Even lovely Oh and a domain music talent sambal conducted by IBM.
Yes. Really.
Need. You.
Boy that was exotic for piano and 14 instruments. I spoke earlier about the sumptuousness of sound and aural splendor of this music. Of course that was largely missing in that particularly bad sounding studio French studio type recording. The other remaining work on this program will be developing the last concerto not the Tyler Delano million of a chant the jingle and the say that mouthful meaning roughly concerto for the Christmas night of 1956. I think that's the longest title on record. It is for soprano and 17 instruments in six movements two of these movements use the voice the soprano voice in text by a 13th century mystic poet named Jakob
pointed out toady the Italian counterpart to Spain's Saint John of the cross. By 956 Della Pickler who had started on the 12 tone road somewhat belatedly and his development was beginning to apply the newer serial procedures that the younger generation had in the interim in evolved. But it is characteristic of Della Piccolo that these new techniques were used by him not only in a personal way related to his already established style but also in a basically simplified and modified version. In other words unlike certain other composers of his generation because of that did not sacrifice the individual aural concept of his music to the rigors and rhetoric of serial conventions. His music does not sound like everybody else's in the start or M.A.. His music is probably considered too mild and romantic by most of the young turks of the home guard but at least it is if it is his own and because he
has used serial technique only to the extent that it would allow him to be himself. I think this is more worthy than the radically new at any cost attitude so prevalent in certain European music centers. Then I think a lifestyle is characterized by a strong lyricism and an ability to create moods in the older sense of these terms. Although these pieces are strictly serially organized they are as far as the specific procedures go so organized in very simple ways which correspond rightly to the lyricism that seems to be developing. The last way of hearing music his role material is so picked and so used as to allow him to incorporate a certain amount of tonal allusions allusions not illusions. Even his polyphony is organized in such a manner that we hear it primarily as vertical harmonies harmonies Moreover filled with such near tonal elements as tri tones thirds and sixths and other tonal
ingredients. Here now is the Christmas concerto as sung very beautifully by the Swedish and metropolitan opera soprano Elizabeth and an instrumental ensemble conducted by Frederick presence.
The food. Oh. I. Know you don't. Yes.
You. LITTLE MAN. There you. Are.
Bernard. An illness.
What. Load. Oh. Oh. A revolution. Oh oh. Ooh ooh ooh. Ooh ooh. When the. Going to.
See her. Global. Live. Lives.
We want. Was. Was. Was was.
Contemporary Music in Evolution
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
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Host: Schuller, Gunther
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-26 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:55:20
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Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 26; 1956,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021,
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APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 26; 1956. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from