Music and other four letter words; 1
University of Utah radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah Paul bad of a scorpion and the turtle. I. Met up one day on the bank of a river. And it seemed difficult to the Scorpion. Although it wasn't really easy for scorpions to take up with turtles since they didn't seem to have anything much in common. We decided that at least it was practicable. So he said something like you know. Why don't you agree to take me across the river on your shell. And then you'll get to the other side safely because rivers are easy for you now make it safely and I suppose we might have established some kind of rapport or friendship. The turtle. As I. Remember this sort of fable was at first a little
unwilling and said How do I know if I take you across the river that someplace maybe in the middle of the river you won't sting me. Why the scorpion promised. That wouldn't be the case at all because really he had to get to the other side as well as the material and there would be no point in stinging his new found friend. So the turtle agreed and they set out the scorpion. Heroically riding the back of. His new friend. Halfway across. The river. The scorpion stung the turtle. And as they both went down the turtle looked plaintive plea back. And said. I suppose. Well the simplest thing a turtle could say at such a moment. Why did you do that. The scorpion replied because
it is my nature. This. Is not meant to be especially profound as an introduction to a series but people have written a good deal spoken a good deal and will I suppose in the future. Do both of those things again. A good deal about the nature of most things including music. We have a tradition about music I suppose in many countries especially in the United States and that is that it is a good entertainment medium. And that after a hard day at the office nobody really wants to go to a symphony concert or come home and turn on his stereo or even for that matter turn on a radio station and and be plied with significance and metaphysics and a lot of other things. And that music is all right in its place. And its place of course is a fairly limited one and that is to soothe. To. Palliate the distresses of the
day. Sometimes even to a movie many times even to create something like a dream world something that one can escape to. And that when it serves this function it does very well indeed. But that soon is it bombards sword begins to undermine us somehow. With with that which is more. Than itself this this is maybe improperly the call of music again. And at this point we turn off the radio we turn off the stereo. Or we get up and leave the concert. To some people that seems very strange indeed. I suppose to a good many composers I don't know if the majority of composers see music as something more than music. But for some time now I think I would be interested in saying something to you about just that kind of music. I'm not especially interested this year in music which is. As entertaining music which is therapeutic.
I've always had a special interest in the music which is more than music and the composers which or who seem to have. Have moved consistently in that direction who see it as a medium which must transcend itself. And in a mysterious way lead us through a kind of experience to an awareness or Beethoven would say even the revelation of things which are ultimate. What is the nature of music. What is the nature of the Scorpion and what is it that you know makes the scorpion sting. The turtle even to its own self destruction in mid stream. Those are intriguing questions and I think maybe will try to talk about them. Maybe. Maybe better to talk around them. It seems that some things are not talk about a bill very easily. Head on and I
understand that I have something of a reputation for being the person who talks around things better than he talks about them. That doesn't disturb me much because I like. The art of circum look you shine and I don't think that that's necessarily a dirty word. Tradition. And in this case the tradition of music as entertainment is not always so. A good friend to Essence. They don't necessarily conquer. And that's one reason I suppose why the tradition of music is less interesting to me than what some people have said is the essence of it. Maybe some of you even remember or know about that very famous quotation from Mendelssohn. Which insists that you know that the problem with music is not that it is that it is not specific but that it is too definite too specific for some people.
Music seems to have the unfortunate characteristic in the minds of many people of being of the arts the one which is least definite. And I think I'd like to change that a little bit. After some time leaving you with the impression if not the deep seated feeling that music is after all a very definite and that some people's music. Is headed in the direction of that definite thing which they hold to be. The final truth which encompasses. Us All. Even though the rains may fall on. Where the sun. Will see. The end and I will do returns again.
Writing. Earth to. The. King to my. God. With you know. You even go out of the shadows keep changing. They must be. Once more.
Headed and bellowed the shadows remembering. Well then. Be who you are. The word I want to say is easy to say. Said Woody Guthrie. And yet is the hardest word I've tried to say. He tries to make all of my feelings plain. And what one word can I say that will say them all. Most times I try to speak it. I never do get it said. And when I try to plan it it always slips my plans and slips my tongue. The word I want to say is here and close and free and easy on my lip and tongue but seldom said like
some slick water fish that jumps through net hole as fast as I can not in the loop. I know. What my word means. I know what my Word says. I know it's a weight and measure it's name label and trademark I know its shape and feel it's house and home. I know its taste and smell its body touch. I know my own said word better than my own said Lord knows me the same as I know you better than you will ever know me. This one word I want to say would make all clear between my wife and myself or rather would make me as clear as my wife is. She's always the clearest of the two of us. I'm always the foggy and the mixed up one and she's always the out speaking out thinking one. If I could just speak this one unsaid and unspoken word to her. Things between us would be the limber and danced dances they ought to be. Our house and our home is crippled and hurt just because of this one word I
can't say or speak this one word would make me know my children and would make my children if I could just say this one word. My children's children would know that we are both just a lie. And that there is no difference in this big enough. To separate and tear us apart. In our thoughts I think all of us could go around the world and know everybody on it. If we could just find and speak this one same word it's not a secret word or a magic word. No word is secrets no word is magic no word is heated. I followed this one word now for several years and around the house since I was born here. I've let it lead me by my finger out where the loose snow blows around these weed stems I've climbed hand ladders of boxcars ship's sides truck cabs doors fire escapes wagons and barn lofts. I've said it to cops guards vigilante men
soldiers and to Seders to farm women and farm girls to house women and house girls to hotel women and hotel girls to street women and street girls to men and boys shingling roofs in southern states driving nails in western mountains digging dirt in eastern places painting and welding in every state in the union I've said this one word in every tongue and language and unto every color of face lips and hair to the Brown to the red the yellow the black skin. You knew this word when you heard it spoken and sung motion signaled or danced. The odd thing is. About this word. That it is no one certain word but fits in the ring and tone sound of every word. It is the word inside of all of our other words. The word that gives our words a shape in the form
and a clearer sense. This is the free word that no jail can hold. No cell can keep no chain dragged down the rope and. No weapon can hurt nor hinder. I say this word is that one word that makes all democracy clear plain keeps democracy alive the same as democracy keeps me alive and I keep this one word alive. I will die as quick and as easy as I can to keep this one word living because it keeps my whole race of people living working loving growing to know more and to feel more. This is the one word I want to say. That's Woody Guthrie traveling folks and ordinary men. He says that there is something which is definite something which is not
something which at some level and is very clear and it has to do not with. Anything that you could look up in the dictionary but the sound of things. The way things are in tone and the words behind the words. The look behind the look. That saw the best very mysterious to a lot of people. It borders on metaphysics. And yet I suppose he's talking about music. There are lots of words which are printed on pages. There are lots of notes which are written down I suppose on musical scores and they don't mean anything until they're produced until they're spoken until there's good. Poetry for me has never been very valuable as the thing that exists on a page but as soon as it is inflected as soon as it is intoned as soon as it begins to move it. Somehow in time. Something becomes definite something becomes clear something becomes powerful something becomes
mean. Fred Neil just sang to us about that very thing that Woody Guthrie is talking about. It's the old folk message we were all at some point wayfaring strangers but we are all the same Wayfaring Stranger. And when we realize that we're not strangers anymore but we are the same. Our word is the same our way is the same. We we go beyond particularly our days and it seems to Woody Guthrie and it seems I suppose to threaten you know since he's a folk singer too. And it seems to a lot of other people. That music maybe is not the ultimate experience but it is one way that people can share what is finally the same thing. Go until the top said Beethoven to listen to my symphonies and he will say that I'm
right in saying that music is the one in core poor real entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend which sounds like a very sort of pretentious way of saying about the same thing that Woody Guthrie was writing about. Beethoven said it I suppose a little a little less pompously. When I open my eyes he says I have to side. Because everything that I see is contrary to my religion and I have to despise the world which doesn't know that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and all philosophy. It is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes. And I am the Baucus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken. When they become sober again they have drawn from the sea all that they brought with them all
that they can bring with them to dry land. I have not a single friend. I must live alone. But well I know that God is nearer to me than to other artists. I associate with him without fear. I have always recognised and understood him and have no fear for my music. It can mean no evil fate. Those who understand it must be freed by it from all the miseries which the others drag around with themselves. That's a startling claim. This thing that you're listening to now is called Music and other four letter words but it is clearly going to be about this kind of music which is more. Than music. It is going to be preoccupied with the thing that Beethoven is preoccupied with and Woody Guthrie Fred knew and Claude Debussy and a lot of other people.
At some point music transcends itself and leads somebody. Beethoven says to a state of some kind of freedom from all of the miseries which other people drag around with them. And this freedom is not aesthetic escape. But it is true freedom. That is they must be changed. When they come back from the experience. They cannot come back. The same people that they were. Before they left. And. And. With. And with. And.
Your fog nerves right. Beethoven cannot be listened to casually. There is no note of the music which can go by. With. Out attention. This is the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven the second movement and it is like I suppose any important Beethoven the kind of music which is more than music. There is a tune. And for flats. It is Andante con moto. We are walking in a kind of 18th century tradition. It is pastoral music. Move gently across the countryside says Beethoven. Tom to be total be do well who. Loping along the Austrian path. It's a day like any
other day and the sun is probably shining though it doesn't need to be. There is contentment there is placidity there is a kind of one with nature and everything is ok but nothing spectacular. Suddenly as strange things happen in that eighteenth century context second movements of symphonies are supposed to be relaxing maybe a little bit devotional maybe a little bit reflective but certainly not the place for sudden emergence of trumpets and and drums. Beethoven doesn't care about that the tradition is OK as a starting point. But somewhere in the happy loping across the face of nature there is a mysterious moment. There is over the hill the sound of something you magically related to the first tee you hear. It sounds like a fanfare. That's because it is within their. Own. It seems to get closer
to. Home and suddenly it breaks in upon you with grandeur and you know a certain kind of heroism and razzle dazzle in those six four chord the theorist would say. And something like a traditionally heroic key C major. And you are bombarded with trumpets and drums and militants and glory I guess is the closest word you can find. And then as quickly as it happened it fades away. And one stands where he always was wondering if it really happened at all. And back to the first tune but this time a little more a little more vibrationally a little more energetically a little more excitedly. And so this section of music goes in the symphony and over every next hill keeps popping.
In the present moment to something like power or something like heroic possibility accessible to us in the world of nature and Beethoven tries to say formally Musically he tries to say thematic Lee Musically he tries to say in terms of his use of instruments musically whatever it is that is more than music which has to do with that higher revelation that in Corp Auriol entrance into that higher world of knowledge he says which comprehends us but which we cannot always comprehend. The devil take you said Beethoven. I don't want to know anything about your whole system of ethics. Power is the morality of men who stand out from the rest. And it is also mine. You can.
Buy new bitch. And she. Just. Let you. Take you. Did. You try.
To. Draw. On. This. Horseshit in on or. Beneath your life.
Touch to Suzanne takes her hand and she leads you to the river she's wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters and the sun pours down like honey on Our Lady of the harbor and she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers. There are heroes in the seaweed. There are children in the morning they are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever while Suzanne holds the mirror which is a good place to end. Do you hear what they're all saying you know what they're all saying. Here is Suzanne the half mad looking woman. You want to tell her that you don't have any love to give her you don't really want to go with her and yet you do. She's the one who is not like all the rest she doesn't look like all the
rest. She is a person who sings you songs who takes you away who takes you through that mythic symbol the great river which flows on eternally. There is Beethoven who says I can free you. I am the Baucus who will free you. He's the half mad looking man the people don't want to associate with me. The towels will be on kempt one. The one who makes terrible demands on your attention but the one who says that he is in touch with. Zen is linked with Jesus. Then there is Woody Guthrie the man who travels the face of the world and says I'm looking for the word Belward the musical word maybe because I happen to like music and can sing. Which frees me and which says it all for all of us and which makes us realize that we are all ultimately the same person. Can music do that. Can music transport you to music be more than itself. That's what we mean to find out. And that's what
we will hopefully find out. This has been music and other four letter words featuring Paul Bunyan associate professor of music at the University of Utah. Music and other four letter words is a production of the University of Utah radio. Executive director Rex Campbell. Series director Gene tak. This series is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Identifier: 4922 (University of Maryland)
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