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The following program is produced at WG U.S. in cooperation with the national educational radio network. The down staff. Conversations on music with composer Scott Houston and Carolyn wiles of the University of Cincinnati Carolyn our last remark in chat number 11 spoke something to the effect that serial composition with 12 tongs passed out of favor in the 1950s because it is too predictable and too easy for a beginning composer to use and sound modern. I also made a claim that it is modern music written by the amateur in 12 tone style that gives it its gives music its tainted all of inaccessibility by inaccessibility I meant simply that the composers so in Namur of the technique of 12 tone composition that he shouts to the world look how smart
I am instead of listening to my music. Scott has every right here you have anticipated my next question I'm so glad you said that because I think it's the kind of what I would call the inhumanity to the average ear of 12 tone music that has upset as a feeling as a wind up Sargent said recently about a serialised he said I think he hates music and I think he hates that people are listening. The people are listening to it and that's the feeling I've had that it's such a cerebral thing that that does does he hear it or does he just sit down set himself this little trick that he wants to do and that however it comes out that his music you know that music is incidental. That's part of it that's what I meant by it being very easy to teach. You can get a young composer to write a role and you go from Fort Myers. Do you know what areas that cannot be done like a diagram like a diagram and the music is forgotten sometimes. Fortunately those composers are either on the way out or
no longer play let's go back to the work we discussed earlier. The album buried violin concerto you remember the last four tones of the row C sharp. SHARP are a direct reference to the Lutheran chorale I'm out of date. It is enough. Let's hear how Baird quotes the exact harmony exact harmony of J.S. Bach. But first we realize the box harmony is not in one key in the uses of the possible 12 tones of the chromatic scale. Not just the seven tons of a major but a total of 10. And here it is. A major which will find the key. So we see. Seven tones the diatonic a major scale. Plus B sharp plus DVR
Plus a chart so that makes. Not on a scale course here the two tones are missing. And when we combine those two tones to those ten tones to the original amount we get this. Whole tone. I can hardly wait to hear the next quote. Violin Concerto. You're.
One still hears the intense climaxes of romantic music the slowing accelerations the rubato hears the highpoint of the bare violin concerto. Lose. Lose. Lose. Lose. Lose. When I was a high point wasn't a big bone Marian play mugs. Not everything
going at once very subdued and cool and that was the high point of one of them. I have a question listening to that was of course I want to get away from a tour from tonality if they want to get rid of that. Did they also set as well there was you must not have romantic crescendos Dacres you know no you allowed that one isn't it that you were allowed is that it comes from inside. If you're that kind of a person romantic and intense you're going to write that kind of music with your writing 12 tone or diatonic in the key. If you're remote cool kind of person you can write a different kind of music. It comes out. Except that in the work of the amateur It has been called by several competent teachers I know as the universal language you can't talk written by Japanese or West African nation or in America. So that may be his fault.
There's great great warmth and pathos. Oh yeah. And German Romanticism itself is not yet laid to rest in spite of the application of those serial techniques. You remember our experiment of the last chat in which while my eyes were closed you open the score of this particular violin concerto and you pointed to any vertical place in the score and I found either a whole tone sonority and dominant of some kind or a plain major minor triad. One reason which may account for more acceptance by the public of varied music is that is vertical to resemble those found in Ravel Davis the scree of being Wagner and others. Radical you mean this kind of a sound. Not the linear aspect of what makes the total concept different is that those composed I just mentioned work from a key and very good chorus apply the 12 tone technique freely. But for another colleague and disciple of Sharon Berg named Anton from Vader in the role and had a more severe and more restrained in a cooler kind of music
sometimes referred to by the convenient handle pointillism. After the artist method of applying the paint to canvas not by strokes but by dots makes you out like Xerox I think he invented or at least proponent. I like that word. The cool music is best represented I think by the barren symphony Opus 21 and the date is one thousand twenty eight. And if you expect a string section of 60 players in a total of one hundred five musicians you will be sadly disappointed. The score call is only for two clarinets two horns harp and string quartet. A total of nine players economical brief without hyperactivity completely unromantic classic if you wish. The role which took six months of careful planning and experimentation sounds like this.
And we analyze it casually by interval beginning on a minor third major third step on a tri tone and a half and a minor sixth. The haves and the have in the minor third. And ends on the flat and we note how balanced it is beginning with a minor third down and ending with a minor third up. With the tri tones of pt. tone between tone 6 and 7 and also between 12 and 1. Here's one there's 12. My next statement may sound mathematical abstract nonmusical cerebral or what have you but I make it anyway.
After the row of been carefully worked out the next process was to pre compose by writing down the backwards or retrograde version of. On the contrary motion to the original. And the backwards version of that. Then the 11 transpositions of vetoes were all I'm an AFC. You've got. 11 transpositions. The composer had several pages of nothing but melodic lines and derives from the original series. The process I have just described is
not greatly different from Beethoven's composing methods. The end product being the result of pages and pages of pre composing your sketching. Glad you said that because it seemed to be such an awful lot of work and nothing but as you say Oh. Wait a minute wait a minute where's the music I listen to this. Comp.. Maybe I have a feeling that Beethoven I'm sure he heard this it is that before I even put it you heard 21 of them in his head and he knew I was going to say but. But he wrote them down even though they were inadequate. But did anybody hear that. He did write it down and then hear him after he played him and he made music out of it anyhow as I pointed out the other day you can see me just get if you're not a composer and vagrants up to the actual composing you transformed. Note that I do not use the word manipulate
the basic set of 12 pitches into a piece of music. Admirable for its quickness and most enjoyable when the listener knows what to expect and when our expectations are realized. We are not disappointed if we should see the name they bear in our program and expect to hear every card Straus we would understandably be upset. But if you know just a little about 12 tone composition we will be able to appreciate it enough to talk enough analysis. Here's the beginning of a darn symphony Opus 21 composed in one thousand twenty eight. And a little later in the composition.
Now we're going to try another experiment which may help us to appreciate the method of composition. We'll play other brief portions of the baron's Opus 21. And as you hear the small chamber orchestra I will play the role or one of its permutations simultaneously on the piano and pray that the recording in the piano room too. Let's hope it works. That was the first violin part reduced within an octave and it began
with a minor chord up there was the inversion and with the minor third down and then you had the retrograde it began this way and ended in the French horn came in. It was an unusual combination. I played the clarinet part on the piano in this fairly well in tune and it showed one two three four five six seven eight nine 10 11 12 at the same time. The harp was playing the retrograde of that in the harmony with it 12 11 10
nine eight seven six five four three two one. I have one more brief work of a Barron's will show us the beginning of one of the more important trends of the mid 20th century that a brevity of condensing music to its shortest form of expression too if you will a distillation of the musical process which may make demands of intense concentration on the listener. As long as you want to dance is going to happen you'll be prepared for it and accept it. If you're expecting an hour movement of a symphony you won't be happy. Here is one whole movement of a bairn's five bagatelles for string quartet. Why.
Why. While Schoenberg Barragan De Bruyne and others were experimenting with and using creatively the 12 tone conception of music composition. Other men were doing things without notes or musical instruments bringing airplane engines on the stage. Wrapping chains on sandpaper or using musical instruments in an unusual way such as. Slamming the piano lid down or blowing air through the trumpet without pitch. After World War 2 the new generation of young composers was impatiently bursting with fresh ideas some valuable some even anti musical. But with great energy and tremendous impact I think we may dispose of the
anti-music men with a few illustrations mostly comical some disastrous. Once I saw and heard three performers with each with two hammers throwing the hammers into the strings of a brand new and it's very expensive grand piano with the lid removed. Perhaps you have read of all pianos being chopped into bits with axes or a bare breasted female improvising on her cello. One of the wildest scenes involve three men chasing a nude young woman down a street in Paris throwing wets begetting on her head and burning a lot of the over climax. Now that's happening. And one so-called composer advertised in a New Jersey paper about a year ago I think giving notice of a concert at a certain address about 60 knots turned up at a power station and listened for 30 minutes to the hum of the dynamo was fascinating in that the war's aftermath occasionally unsettles mine. Some of the saner composers who resented the restrictions even of a
self-imposed row went there occasionally lonely way sometimes never achieving recognition and one or two went on recognised until they were in their late sixties in one case that of cargos in his early 80s. Suffice it to say that all the experimentation still goes forward out of the necessary chaos that comes from recognizable trends. One of those trends we have already mentioned in connection of a bear and that a brevity. Another trend the preoccupation with space density and time involved one of the most experimental yet durable composers that guard the race. Controversial but influential. Before World War 2 in 1940 the race tried to express in his music the disillusionment in the minds of most thinking humans. At the end of World War One and the economic depression followed it seemed to raise the bar talk Barragan very low expressing
themselves well did not express life as it is. It was a growing trend in the 1930s with very obscure a nature that is life and nature of mysterious and frightening forces. The race tries to shape the music the interacting forces of life with the resultant clashes an irregularity of life held together by both definite and indefinite sounds. We hear part of his ion is Asians for 35 percussion instruments including a siren. With.
With. Another composer caught in a war in Greece. Yana says innocuous uses mathematical formula unusual instrumentation and placing instruments on the stage to produce music a great flow of mobility and fascinating textures. Xenakis is also an architect and sometimes draws as ideas first on graph paper then translates the graph into more conventional music notation. It's not just recognizes the affinity of music with mathematics. It was actually taught as part of the mathematical curriculum in universities from patheticness time 500 B.C. until mid fifteenth century and Sinatra's uses the law of numbers which simply express provides
that as a certain number of chance repetitions such as putting a coin increases so the probability that the results will tend to determine the end approaches certainty. For instance you and I are flipping it. Think of the biggest coin I have which is a penny. And we flip it 10 times and it's come up nine times tails. The tenth time one liable to be the probability will be heads. If we flipped it ten times and five are heads and five or tails the probability that the next one will be either heads or tails. How do you translate this to you if we want to. Let's all have a rector's already listed on how it was an artist works and several others. But at least he uses mathematical formula. Let us hear a portion of the narcos with a Praktica translation from the Greek actions by probabilities which uses 50 instruments. Now they're not seated
as they are normally on a stage. The strings are in a circle in the trombones regression and they are trombones percussion and 46 strings each with his own individual part. The stubborn vision derided even sneered at in the early thirties a man named Harry Partch who makes all his own instruments is fascinated by
microtones. Wound the octave but 43. Space time and rhythm. We hear part of his ballet Castor and Pollux written in one thousand fifty four. At one point in the composition 234 instrument which literally represent the number of times and in order for the real life drama and symbolism. It's a very complicated but it sounds simple.
Electronic music have not been neglected. But in our last lecture number 13 we will play some electronic music. We will speak about and review the new trends involving brevity space and numbers. Electronic music. And introduce one new one the static quality. But I'll summarize it for now and boil it down to number one. In the new music since 1050 have occurred natural sounds from unusual sources. Harry Partch is cloud chamber bowls cages rattling of chains clanging of typewriter bells scratching of sandpaper etc.. And number two on usual sounds from natural sources Penderecki is playing behind the nut of the violin tapping the body of the wood
and other composers specifying the performer use just the reed of the oboe slapping only the keys of the flute not blowing in his middle. And many many more. This brief summary brings us to today and perhaps even to tomorrow. You've been listening to up the down staff conversations on music with composer Scott Houston and Carolyn Watts our technical director is Bob Stevenson. This program was produced in cooperation with the national educational radio network in the studios of WG U.S. on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. This is the national educational radio network.
Up the down staff
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The Break-Down of the Old Guard by the Avant
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Chicago: “Up the down staff; 12; The Break-Down of the Old Guard by the Avant,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Up the down staff; 12; The Break-Down of the Old Guard by the Avant.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
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