POPULAR CULTURE

Music


MUSIC: AN INTRODUCTION

Music is an art form whose medium is sound & silence. Its common elements are pitch which governs melody & harmony, rhythm & its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from a Greek word which, when translated, means  "art of the Muses." Although this sub-section of my website is part of popular culture, I deal on this webpage with music in its totality: all forms, all cultures and the history of music. I deal with the music of popular culture and "high culture."  According to John Storey, there are six definitions of popular culture. The quantitative definition of culture has the problem that much "high culture"; for example, television dramatizations of Jane Austen, is also "popular". "Pop culture" is also defined as the culture that is "left over" when we have decided what high culture is. However, many works straddle the boundaries, e.g., Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

A third definition equates pop culture with "mass culture" and ideas. This is seen as a commercial culture, mass-produced for mass consumption by mass media. From a Western European perspective, this may be compared to American culture. Alternatively, "pop culture" can be defined as an "authentic" culture of the people, but this can be problematic because there are many ways of defining the "people". Storey argued that there is a political dimension to popular culture; for example, neo-Gramscian hegemony theory which "sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the 'resistance' of subordinate groups in society and the forces of 'incorporation' operating in the interests of dominant groups in society." A postmodernist approach to popular culture would "no longer recognize the distinction between high and popular culture".

The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music all vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions, and their recreation in performance, through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, & occasionally controversial. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, & auditory art. It may also be divided among art music and folk music. There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics. Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded.  This page of my website is not only about the music of popular culture, but it is also about the total field of music. For more of this introduction to music go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music

SOME OF MY WRITING ABOUT MUSIC

I have written a great deal about music and musicians, musical composition and writing, as well as the part music has played in my life. I often write prose-poems that attempt to connect the world of music with my own experience in the lifespan. Here are some samples:

http://musicals.net/forums/viewtopic


http://www.muzicforums.com/search

http://brightcecilia.com/forum/showthread

A useful OVERVIEW, an overview that I have not written myself, of the history of music, and some interesting DEVELOPMENTS and ACTIVITIES in the world of music are found outlined at the following links. 

In a time of shrinking resources, many university presses are cutting back. But not Cambridge University Press(CUP)—at least in the field of music.  In 2003 CUP launched the first in a series of “music histories,” a sprawling 1,000-page volume weighing in at slightly north of four pounds. This book of essays by thirty-one scholars was devoted to the relatively arcane field of Western musical theory.  The complete translation of this book into Chinese is an index of the book's prestige, if not necessarily its sales.  The Beijing Conservatory festivities in the fall of 2011 celebrated, among other things, this new book. For more on this and the above musical subject go to the following links:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/25/good-listening-and-bad/

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/mar/06/the-musical-mystery/

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/may/15/playing-in-time/

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/12/the-truth-force-at-the-met/

If you google the words 'RonPrice music' you will also gain access to many of my internet posts on music.

MONTE PYTHON AND MUSIC

When the Monty Python team came up with The Lumberjack Song, it was their first song. But over the years the role of music increased in the Python output on TV and film, and in live shows, and has since spawned musicals like Spamalot. Andrew Ford talks to Eric Idle and John Cleese about music and songs, getting the rhythm right and the joys of Roget's Thesaurus. FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH CLEESE GO To: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/musicshow/eric-idle-and-john-cleese/7182090  John Marwood Cleese (-1939) is an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer onThe Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline,Jamie Lee Curtis and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, both of which he also wrote. He also starred in Clockwise, and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films as Q, two Harry Potter films, and the last three Shrek films. With Yes Minister writer Antony Jay he co-founded Video Arts, a production company making entertaining training films. In 1976, Cleese co-founded The Secret Policeman's Ball benefit shows to raise funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International. For more on Cleese go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cleese

YOUNG COMPOSERS

I belong to a website entitled Young Composers. Young Composers is a great place for musicians to upload creative musical compositions to receive feedback. Not only is it a great place to upload and listen to music, it's a great place to engage in discussion with other composers as well. I engage with others about my literary compositions. Go to this link:http://www.youngcomposers.com/index.php

CILLA BLACK AND PERCY SLEDGE: r.i.p.

Part 1:

When a person gets into their 70s, as I did in 2014, celebrities from the worlds of the movies and television, from the music world, indeed, from many worlds of popular culture, begin to die like flies. That metaphor may be a bit too strong, but their deaths are periodic occurrences which begin to dot the landscape of one’s life-narrative. I write below about the lives and deaths of two famous people in the last four months, people from popular culture, people who were out on the distant periphery of my life experience, my life-narrative.

Part 1.1:

Percy Sledge, who recorded the classic 1966 soul ballad When a Man Loves a Woman, died aged 73, at his home in Baton Rouge Louisiana.  I remember that song which was released in April 1966. That was the last month of my three year B.A. degree in sociology. I was 21, a member of the Baha’i community of Dundas Ontario, and about to get married and pioneer to the Canadian Arctic for the Baha’i community of Canada.

Sledge died early on 14/4/’15. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer in early 2014. Sledge’s first recording took him from being a hospital orderly to a long touring career averaging 100 performances a year. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Between 1966 and 1968, Sledge used his forlorn, crying vocal style to record a series of southern soul standards. While his first hit When a Man Loves a Woman was by far his most famous song, other popular singles included Take Time to Know Her and It Tears Me Up.

By 1968 he had largely fallen from commercial favour, though songs like Take Time to Know Her continued to be revered by soul fans. By 1968, I was living on the 5th biggest island in the world, Baffin Island, and teaching Inuit children. Sledge, who had been only a faint light on my event horizon, had completely disappeared into one of the many black holes into which so much of popular culture disappeared during my lifespan. In later years, Sledge continued to be in demand as a performer in the US and Europe. When a Man Loves a Woman  has continued to pop up in movies, including The Big Chill and The Crying Game. But Sledge had gone, until a news-event in April 2015 brought him back onto my event horizon.

Part 2:

Cilla Black, a 1960s pop star championed by The Beatles, became one of Britain's best-loved television presenters. She died yesterday, as I write these words, on Sunday 2 August 2015, in Spain. The 72-year-old was found at her home near Marbella Spain. The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror newspapers reported the event quoting Spanish police. Big hearted and full of laughs, this working-class redhead from Liverpool was a fixture on British television screens for more than 50 years, known just by her first name.  She started out working in the cloakroom at the Cavern club, where fellow Liverpudlians The Beatles were first spotted, before taking to the stage as a singer herself. The band championed Black and introduced her to their manager Brian Epstein, who signed her.

Black released her first single in 1963 and the following year had two Number One hits, "You're My World" and "Anyone Who Had a Heart". The former Song was number 1 in the UK at the end of May 1964. I was just completing the first year of my B.A. degree at McMaster university in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton Ontario. She went on to release 14 albums. In 1968 she began hosting her own television talk show, beginning a broadcasting career that saw her present some of Britain's most popular programmes over half a century. I knew little to nothing about TV in the U.K. and little about TV in Canada since these were the years in which I had no TV.

Part 2.1:

Actress Joan Collins was one of the first to pay tribute, saying on Twitter that she was "sad and shocked" and adding: "She was a resplendent and rare talent."  Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described her as "one of my childhood idols".  "My earliest memory of having a tantrum was over Cilla. I wanted her album. My mum and dad said no — my grandad said yes.  I was 4," the Scottish nationalist leader said. Black was made an OBE in 1997 and last year was given a special award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which called her an "icon". In its citation, BAFTA said she had hosted more than 500 television shows and made around 400 guest appearances on others, regularly drawing audiences of 18 million people. Black was married to Bobby Willis, who became her manager and who died in 1999. They had three sons as well as a daughter who died in infancy. 

These two names were completely

unknown to me until their deaths

were announced in the print and

electronic media:  4/’15 to 8/’15.

 

There are so many names now from

popular culture & academic culture,

people who have come into my life

like distant stars in a far-off galaxy,

or exploding quasars1 of immense

luminosity, but here today & gone

tomorrow into a hole for those who

speak no more or even sing no more.

 

Perhaps, though, like quasars, they

will go on emitting light for billions

of years in a world beyond this world

only to merge over time into one of the

black holes in, say, 3 to 5 billion years.


1 Quasars, or quasi-stellar radio sources, are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to stars, rather than extended sources similar to galaxies. Their spectra contain very broad emission lines, unlike any known from stars, hence the name "quasi-stellar." Their luminosity can be 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way. Most quasars were formed approximately 12 billion years ago caused by collisions of galaxies and their central black holes merging to form a supermassive black hole.

Ron Price

3/8/’15.

MUSIC VIDEOS

A content analysis of music videos for the 2008 top-rated songs in four musical genres was conducted in order to gauge change in the presence of religious and sexual symbols since the mid-1990s and to determine if sexual and religious images were prevalent in the increasingly popular hip hop genre. Religious images appeared in about one-third of videos across genres, and sexual images appeared in more than half the videos and in all of the hip hop videos. Hip hop and country videos had the highest co-occurrences of religious and sexual imagery, although there was co-occurrence in each genre. The significance and possible interpretations of the symbols and their co-occurrence are discussed. Go to this link for
a paper in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture(Volume 24, Number 3, Fall 2012) at: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_religion_and_popular_culture/v024/24.3.morgan.html

MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES

Record companies are rarely confused with charitable organizations. How then to explain the recent release in a boxed set of twenty-oneCDs corresponding to the twenty-one LPs that the pianist and writer Charles Rosen recorded for the Columbia and Epic labels between 1959 and 1972 (around eighteen and a half hours of music), at a price unthinkable even a decade ago? Tokyo-based Sony—now the keeper of grand old labels that include former behemoths CBS and RCA—has released this collection from an artist whose sales at the time of his death in 2012 were modest at best.

What changed? Transitions from one technology to another are inevitably laced with ironies, and the shift in musical circles from analog to digital is no exception. Sales of classical music recordings surged for a decade with the introduction of commercial CDs in 1982 (first irony); CD sales have declined steadily for at least fifteen years as more and more recordings moved to digital formats. The very technology that produced the surge eventually laid waste to it (second irony). Whether you subscribe to the notion that interest in Beethoven and other famous composers has also waned depends on where you sit and whether you have a stake in the answer.MORE...http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/04/07/versatile-fearless-charles-rosen-at-the-piano/

BILLY HOLIDAY

Billie Holiday(1915-1959) is one of many singers about whom I have written. She was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. For a useful overview of her life and work go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Billie_Holiday Here is a prose-poem I wrote which refers to Holiday:

THE SCENT OF MAGNOLIA
 
In 1936 the Guardian wrote to the American Baha’i community about devising a teaching plan which would be inaugurated in May 1937. During that year, in January 1937, Abel Meeropol’s poem “Bitter Fruit” was published in The New York Teacher, a union publication.  It was one of the first of the Negro protest songs going back to 1927.  On April 20th 1939 Billy Holiday recorded Bitter Fruit, on the eve of the opening of the second year of the Seven Year Plan.  The record sold 10,000 copies in the first week.  Holiday sang the song until her death twenty years later in 1959, the year I became a Baha’i. -Ron Price with thanks to David Margolik, “Strange Fruit,” Vanity Fair, September 1998.
 
There’s a bitter vein through which
flows a blood-strange-fruit juiced
on leaves and root, too strong to taste
as it insinuates itself into despair’s
bleached skull, some last drop,
some life, some blighted hope,
some frail harvest of desire
fails before the mind’s accusing
noon-bright stare, withers under
reason’s chastening ice and I find
my own words chill and burn me
chafing my brain raw and her’s.
 
She sang of this pastoral scene1
as humanity entered the most
perilous stage of its existence
where the scent of that magnolia
was nowhere to be seen, when
unimaginably precious hours
presented themselves in a holy
enterprise with unimaginable
blessings, but few saw the lustre,
the high mission to which they
were called in those dark times
when a titanic upheaval was
about to burst upon the world.
 
1 The scene of Negoes being lynched, the scene that gave rise to the poem and the song.
 
Ron Price
December 17th 2004


For a video on Holiday go to: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/rewind_20150521_49914.mp3

WHEN BJORK MET ATTENBOROUGH

When Björk Met Attenborough is a 2013 documentary television film directed by Louise Hooper, executive produced by Lucas Ochoa and produced by Caroline Page. It was aired for the first time on 27 July 2013 on Channel 4, in conjunction with Pulse Films and One Little Indian Records. Partly filmed at the Natural History Museum in London, the documentary features an encounter between Icelandic singer-songwriter & musician Björk and English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough. They discuss the nature of music and the intersection between music, nature & technology. It also follows the singer as she prepares for her Biophilia Tour, along with rehearsal and studio recording. The documentary was inspired by the singer's eighthstudio album Biophilia (2011), which was released as a series of apps which blends nature elements withmusicology. Collaborators in the project Scott Snibbe,Damian Taylor, Andy Cavatorta and Evan Grant appear in the documentary to talk about their role in the development of the album and the live show. It also includes neurologist Oliver Sacks, who talks about the effect of music on the brain. For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Bj%C3%B6rk_Met_Attenborough

GREG PARKER

Part 1:

Most of what is written here was written many months before I heard of the passing of Greg Parker on 16 May 2014.  I have updated what I originally wrote here, and I include the following paragraphs as what you might call 'a quasi-eulogy'. A eulogy is a speech or a piece of writing in praise of a person who has recently died, or has retired. It is also written simply as a means, a term, of endearment. Eulogies should not be confused with elegies which are poems written in tribute one who has left this mortal coil.  Nor should eulogies be confused with obituaries which are published biographies recounting the lives of those who have recently died; nor with obsequies which refer generally to the rituals surrounding funerals.  I would, and could, write a panegyric, a formal public speech or even a written verse.  A panegyric is delivered in high praise of a person. It is a generally a highly studied and discriminating eulogy. But this is not the time or the place. I will leave that for others in and out of the Baha'i community who have known Greg in the last several decades.

Greg Parker gradually came to prominence in the Western Australian Baha'i community as well as Australia generally, indeed, the wider world through his music, his guitar playing and singing. He became known to me through his production, with Malini his wife, of a cassette tape. These two talented artistic people, Greg and Malini Parker, produced a cassette-tape entitled Journey's End back in 1984.  I have been listening to it, and to them, now for 30 years. In 1988 Greg established the New Era Bahá’í Choir. He was its musical director.  In 1988 I began to teach in Perth Western Australia. I lived and taught in that beautiful city, one of the most remote on the planet, until 1999. Greg and I travelled different paths most of the time, consumed as each of us was with what life called of us and what we called of it.

Greg & his wife Malini had first come into my life in 1984, as I say above, when I was 40 and beginning, such was and such is my hope, to achieve a degree of spiritual maturity.  Attaining spiritual maturity is, indeed, a slow process. By the age of 40 I had been a Baha'i for 25 years and, as I gaze back at my life-story from the ripe-old-age of 70, I see the age of 40 as a turning-point in my life-narrative. For more on this subject of spiritual maturity and one's life-narrative, indeed, the very meaning of the terms 'spiritual' and 'maturity', 'spirit and faith', 'development and individual progress' from a Baha'i perspective go to:http://www.bahaiquotes.com/quotepage.php?Quotes%2FBaha%27i+-+Becoming  There is much in cyberspace about these subjects, and I leave it to readers with the interest to do their own Googling.

Part 1.1:

The New Era Choir that Greg and Malini have been part of now for more than 25 years was supposed to perform a one-off musical experience in 1988.  That one-off event took place to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King.  More than twenty-five years later the choir is still going strong. But Greg Parker passed away on 16 May 2014.  According to his doctors, Greg should have left this mortal coil at any time in the last several years since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010. The choir has been based all its life in Perth, Western Australia. Over the years they have performed at hundreds of events before thousands of people all over Australia. I had the pleasure of attending a number of these performances in the dozen years I lived and worked in that city. The Baha'i community of greater metropolitan Perth, by the time I left in 1999, had over 2000 members. The Baha'i community in metropolitan Perth is the largest Baha'i community I have lived in during the 60 years of my association with, and membership in, an organization, a religion, that claims to be the latest, the newest, of the Abrahamic religions.

Part 2:

I have included this part of my website on Greg Parker, a man who in 2014 was just 60 years of age, not so much because of his energetic spirit and musical talents, nor because of the deep love and respect many have and had for him, nor is it an expression of my gratitude for the enrichment he has brought to my Baha'i experience, nor is it the relative fame he has acquired in recent years.  Greg was the subject of a "7.30 Report" segment some two months before his passing.  The segment was televised on 21 March 2014 to millions of viewers in Western Australia, and another set of millions online across the world.  I feel that, in some ways, I have been a part in this journey of Greg’s.  I’m thrilled for him that his work and life was acknowledged in a befitting way before he left the Baha'i community he had worked in for decades. Greg provided for me, especially in the last four years since first hearing of his terminal illness, a mixture of relief and joy since he was still able to fill part of every day with his beautiful music; he was a very inspiring friend and musician to many people, not only in Western Australia, but across Australia and in the international Baha'i community.  I place these several paragraphs here, not only because Greg was one of the few Baha'i composers whom I have known personally in my life but also, in part, as a quasi-eulogy on hearing today, 20/5/'14, of Greg's passing four days ago. Go to this link for a short article on Greg's final show:http://www.inmycommunity.com.au/news-and-views/local-news/Journey-to-Gregs-final-show/7658178/

Part 2.1:

Wikipedia now has an extensive list and index which sets down the name of each member of the Bahá'í Faith who is the subject of an article in this vast online encyclopedia. This encyclopedia is more used, more popular, than any other encyclopedia on the planet.  One of the list arranges everyone of these Baha'is by nationality. I won't list all the names here for that would lead to prolixity. There are, though, lists of: Bands, Musicians, Filmmakers, Actors, Architects, Writers, and Artists. There are also Athletes & Educators. In our burgeoning world of creative people in dozens of walks of life, these lists are now far from comprehensive.  Musical composers are slowly increasing in number. I have only known three personally: Russell Garcia, Tom Price and Greg Parker. There are other musical composers who are relatively famous like: Jack Lenz, Doug Cameron, and Charles Walcott, but their lives have never crossed my personal path except in literary and, now, cyberspace circles.  I should mention, before closing these paragraphs about Greg that, his wife, Malini Parker, is an artist in her own right and readers who would like to read an overview of her life and work can go to:https://www.google.com.au/#  Go to this link, as I suggested above, for more on Greg Parker:  http://www.inmycommunity.com.au/news-and-views/local-news/Journey-to-Gregs-final-show/7658178/


ANALYSIS OF MUSIC

Part 1:

Musical analysis is the attempt to answer the question how does this music work?. The method employed to answer this question, and exactly what is meant by the question, differs from analyst to analyst, and according to the purpose of the analysis. According to Ian Bent (Bent, 1987), analysis is "an approach & method that can be traced back to the 1750s, though it existed as a scholarly tool, albeit an auxiliary one, from the Middle Ages onwards." A.B. Marx was influential in formalising concepts about composition & music understanding towards the 2nd half of the 19th century. Some analysts, such as Donald Francis Tovey, whose Essays in Musical Analysis are among the most accessible musical analyses, have presented their analyses in prose. Others, such as Hans Keller, who devised a technique he called Functional Analysis, used no prose commentary at all in some of their work.

There have been many notable analysts other than Tovey and Keller. One of the best known and most influential was Heinrich Schenker, who developed Schenkerian analysis, a method which seeks to describe all tonal classical works as elaborations, 'prolongations' of a simple contrapuntal sequence. Ernst Kurth coined the term of 'developmental motif'. Rudolph Réti is notable for tracing the development of small melodic motifs through a work, while Nicolas Ruwet's analysis amounts to a kind of musical semiology. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_analysis

Part 2:

From time to time in my reading and research across what is now more than 100 disciplines and fields of study and learning, I come across some writer who had written a commentary on a piece of classical music. Readers who find the following opening paragraph of interest can access the full essay at this link:http://tamsinshaw.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/what-did-the-missa-solemnis-mean-to-adorno.pdf The author, Tamsin Shaw begins her essay as follows: "I’m not an Adorno scholar. I’m certainly not a Beethoven scholar. I’m someone who loves the Missa solemnis, happened once to read Adorno’s essay on it, and felt that I recognized there something of my own experience. I asked myself “what did the Missa solemnis mean to Adorno?” because I thought I saw an affinity with what it meant to me. I pondered this question during performances and while listening to recordings and imagined that in doing so I was having profound thoughts about the work. So naturally I blushed rather deeply when I came across the great Charles Rosen’s account of the essay,  which begins: ‘The most spectacular critical failure of Adorno’s Beethoven studies is the essay “Alienated Masterpiece: The Missa solemnis.”’ This paper is the product of a lingering curiosity about Adorno’s interpretation and of course a desire to save face by vindicating in some way, however meager, the affinity I initially felt with it. 


THE WRITINGS OF COMPOSERS

Part 1:

I have never shown any talent for playing an instrument or for musical composition, at least very little. But I have come to love writing. With Hector Berlioz it was the other way around. Berlioz hated writing, but he was a genius at musical composition. This passage is not about the music of popular culture, but it is about music in general and for this reason I include it on this page of my website.

Few of us listen to the music of writers. Rousseau and Samuel Butler wrote operas, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote songs, but we hardly know or care.  The books of composers are different. Many of us read, and we thank Fortune for having been allowed to read, the memoirs of Berlioz or Ethel Smythe, the criticism of Schumann, the letters of Mozart or Richard Strauss. Some of us enjoy reading the reminiscences of Chaliapin or Rimsky-Korsakoff, of students of Liszt or Leschetizky, of eighteenth-century organists who once saw Haydn play. In Heaven we'll get to read Mahler's autobiography, Liszt's, Scarlatti's. Meanwhile, here on earth, Jacques Barzun has made a new translation of Berlioz's "Evenings With the Orchestra." Berlioz hated writing. For more of this review of Berlioz's "Evenings With the Orchestra", a review published back in 1956 in The New York Times go to:http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/08/01/specials/jarrell-berlioz.html


Part 2:

Éric Alfred Leslie Satie(1866-1925) was a French composer & pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd. For more on Satie go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Satie  For a review in the London Review of Books of A Mammal’s Notebook: The Writings of Erik Satie edited by Ornella Volta(Atlas, 225 pages, 2014) go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n11/nick-richardson/velvet-gentleman The review begins as follows:  "One thing everyone knows about Erik Satie is that he was an eccentric. There are many kinds of eccentric and Satie was most of them. He presented himself as a nutty professor figure, not a composer but a ‘gymnopedist’ and ‘phonometrician’.  He dined – or so he claimed in his autobiography – only on ‘food that is white: eggs, sugar, shredded bones, the fat of dead animals’. He walked around Paris in priestly robes, then swapped them for a wardrobe full of identical brown corduroy suits; his interests included rare sea creatures, impossible machines, forgotten local history and the occult. His eccentricity became a disguise, an armour of winking and raillerie concealing a man nobody knew.

MUSIC SENT TO ME ON U-TUBE

Part 1:

A common activity in cyberspace in the last decade, say, 2005 to 2015, has been sending u-tube items. I'm not into sending u-tube items myself, but people send me items they think I will enjoy. Five pieces of music were sent to me from July 2012 to August 2013 by a friend, Jose Rodrigues, who lives in Brazil.  He knew I like Elton John's music. Two other friends sent me some Frank Sinatra old favorites; one was a song I remember ice-skating to from time to time in the years I enjoyed that activity in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe in Canada as a child and adolescent: 1955-1965.  This Brazilian friend also sent me a musical artist and a song I'd never heard of before. It was: Settle Down by Kimbra of Virgin Mobile Splendour. I kept those items sent to me by friends on this page from 2012 to 2014. By 2015, though,  I was sent so much material that it seemed pointless to keep it here on my music webpage. I can access virtually any piece of music I want and so can others. I will, therefore, just place this u-tube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-9-kyTW8ZkZNDHQJ6FgpwQ

Part 2:

I was sent several Elton John songs. One such song was his famous hit Your Song which came into my life in late 1970 just before I left Canada in July 1971.  I was teaching grades 5 to 8 in an open plan primary school in Picton Ontario at the time.  I was about to enter the international pioneer field for the Canadian Baha'i community.  It is a field I still journey-in more than 40 years later. The link to Elton's life-narrative, for those who are interested, is found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elton_John

Part 2:

As I say, I have taken-down several u-tube videos, music videos, sent to me in 2012 and 2013.  Those links have been off-again-on again, and so I deleted them in 2015. As the philosopher Nietzsche (1844-1900), one of the two fountainheads of the philosophy of existentialism in the 19th century, wrote: "the world is drowning in sound."  In his The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche's first book, published in 1872 when he was 28, he wrote that: "the symbolic powers grow, those of music, in terms of its rhythm, dynamics, and harmony. They grow with sudden violence & they will drown us all."  What on earth would he say now with the burgeoning systems of sound, the endless musical artists and groups who have come onto the scene in the last six decades, the period from 1953 to 2015, that I have been associated with, and travelling-pioneering for, the Canadian Baha'i community? The world of rock-and-roll was opening in the early 1950s, when I was in the years of my middle-childhood. R-&-R is one of the several musical genres that have been in the backdrop to my life.


MUSIC IS A VAST SUBJECT: HISTORICALLY


Prehistoric music can only be theorized based on findings from paleolithic archaeology sites. Flutes are often discovered, carved from bones in which lateral holes have been pierced; these are thought to have been blown at one end like the Japanese shakuhachi. The Divje Babe flute, carved from a cave bear femur, is thought to be at least 40,000 years old. Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments, such as the Ravanahatha, have been recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites. India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to Indian classical music (marga) are found in the Vedas, ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition. The earliest and largest collection of prehistoric musical instruments was found in China and dates back to between 7000 and 6600 BC. The Hurrian song, found on clay tablets that date back to approximately 1400 BC, is the oldest surviving notated work of music.

Within "the arts", music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and an auditory art. It may also be divided among "art music", "folk music", and "classical music." There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics. Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded. For more on this general statement and introduction to music go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music


TO EACH THEIR OWN IN MUSICAL TASTE:


In a review of Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A Celebration by Richard Luckett(1992), and The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology by William Weber(1992), which appeared in the London Review of Books in October 1992, we are informed that in a book on African Music, that ‘music’ is defined in Africa through the social uses to which it is put. Some native African languages don’t have a word for music as a thing in itself (which, of course, it isn’t, looked at socially), but instead have different words for cradle-rocking-to-sounds, pounding-maize-to-sounds, music-for-hunting-to and so forth. But is there such a thing, anyway, as ‘music: a system of organised sounds which give pleasure, and obey’ – ‘obeying’ may include ‘flouting’ – ‘the conventions of its grammar’? The organisation of pop music is imperceptible to some listeners, its grammar is foreign, and its pleasures non-existent. Of course this is not the experience of everyone. The phenomenon is widely-known, but doesn’t get much noticed.  Some have trouble believing when they are told by someone that they have never heard of, let alone heard, a particular famous rock group. In music, as in everything else, to each their own.

MY MEMOIRS: PIONEERING OVER FIVE EPOCHS---SECTION IX: NOTEBOOKS---MUSIC


INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC NOTEBOOKS

Part 1

I have collections of notes and articles in two arch-lever files on classical music. I also have an additional two arch-lever files, one on popular: folk/rock music, and one on jazz music. I developed these collections after I retired from my career as a FT and PT student and teacher, a career which had lasted from 1949 to 2009.  In 2009 I went on two old-age pensions, one from Canada and one from Australia. I could then enjoy the world of music much more than I ever had during my working life, my life as: a student and a teacher, a lecturer and an adult educator, as well as a parent and a father, among literally dozens of other ascribed and achieved roles that were part of my life at various times and for various periods from the 1940s to the first decade of the 21st century.

Music has played an important part in my life unlike the many forms of dance and gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming which are sports that incorporate dance. In addition some of the martial arts are often compared to dance; the martial arts have never gained a foothold in my interest inventory and experience. I mention the area of dance because the beginnings of my first files on music, which I collected back in the 1990s and 2000s, were on the topics of "music and dance."   Dance has been a peripheral part of my life; this is not so with respect to music. 

In primary school from 1950 to 1957 in Ontario music was a regular part of the curriculum. I remember the music lessons from those years as somewhat stiff and formal.   My mother and father both played the piano and sang in choirs during those years.  We had sing-alongs in our home, with our family, with friends and with the Baha’i community which I entered in my late childhood in about 1953/4.  My mother & father & I listened to classical music around the house from my birth in 1944 until my father died in 1965, all of my childhood and adolescent life.  Then in May 1965 my mother and I moved into different houses in the same town where we had lived before my father died.  I moved to another town in 1966, and then a series of towns in Canada before moving to another country; in the process this family musical experience ended. Living in that family of birth, my consanguineal family as sociologists call it, ended in 1965.  The rest of my life has been spent in two affinal families, families by marriage.  My musical experience in those two families(1967-1975 and 1975-2013) is another story some of which I tell below.

Part 2

In the mid-to-late fifties I became interested in rock and roll, listened to it on the radio in my bedroom among other places. In 1965, just after my father died, I bought my first LP: Barry McGuire’s The Eve of Destruction.  My mother gave me the family copy of The Messiah in the summer of that same year.  These two LPs launched my collection. Until 1975 I purchased LPs and 45s, as they were known. By 1975 I had accumulated some 60 LPs and 45s.  In 1975 my first marriage ended and with it, it seems in retrospect, my purchase of records and my extensive listening to music in my home.  My first wife and I never had a TV; we listened to records and this was an important part of our shared experience.  In the following years, in my second marriage, I had to scale-back my purchases of records due to having to raise three children, living on one income instead of two, and the increased cost of records.  My second wife and her two daughters were more interested in watching TV, engaging in sport and, for various reasons like the fracturing and diversity of our musical tastes as well as the birth of my only child, listening to records in my home seriously diminished by the late-1970s.

I started to learn to play the guitar in 1968 after an unsuccessful attempt at classical guitar in 1962/3. I taught music in my role as a primary teacher from 1967 to 1971.  In 1989 I taught guitar to a class of Aboriginal students at a technical and further education(Tafe) college in Perth Western Australia.  I led sing-alongs from 1968 to 1999 and then, in 1999, I retired from the teaching profession.  In 2000 I joined a small group of singers in George Town Tasmania, my new home town, to entertain residents in an aged-care facility called Ainslie House in that same town, the oldest town in Australia(1804).  I continued singing with that group until May of 2005.  In 2008 I began to play the guitar and to lead those same residents in singalongs using my “sixties singalong music booklet.”  This was a revised booklet from earlier collections I had made as far back as the 1960s.

Part 3

In 2000 I also had access to some 50 CDs as part of my role of Baha’i radio program presenter on City Park Radio.  By April 2005 I had presented about 150 half hour programs and this activity also came to an end that year, 2005, exactly forty years after buying my first LP.   Such, in summary, is a brief history of my musical experience.  I have made a list of the pieces of music I have enjoyed most and it can be found in my computer directory, my two-ring binder sing-along file and on the internet at several sites.  I also have a list of all the records I own in that same file. This particular music file has four sub-sections divided as outlined at the start of this introduction: two popular music sections and two classical sections.

This file contains separate lists of articles about music, articles I began to save nearly 30 years ago in 1984.  I did not seriously begin to save print resources on the subject of music until my retirement from FT work, in the year 1999-2000.  I opened this file for these articles and resources in 2004 after twenty years of slowly accumulating the material.  It has become a serious collection in the last nine years(2004-2013) in my effort to write poetry with musical themes. In 2005 I divided the resources into: (a) classical and (b) popular and placed them in separate files. In 2006 I opened a jazz section(1.1.B), a sub-section of the popular music file.

Part 3.1:

I should mention, in closing this introduction to my musical experience, that radio and television have played an important part in my musical life beginning as far back as 1943.  This is not the place to summarize more than 70 years of radio, and more than 43 years of television and their respective musical influences.  I should say, though, that in these first 15 years of retirement, 1999 to 2014, my musical experience comes in the main from: (a) the internet where I can dial-up virtually any piece of music I want, (b) an Akai radio-tape-digital audio CD sound system in my study, and (c) ABC Jazz which broadcasts jazz 24 hours a day on Digital TV. After five years of such simple dial-up activity, since going on two old-age pensions at the age of 65 in 2009, I find I am listening mainly to classical music and jazz.  Of course TV has provided, and still provides, part of my musical fare in the form of: documentaries on musical history, composers and bands, musical artists and an assortment of information from the field of music.

Since going on two old-age pensions in 2009 at the age of 65, as I say above, & on a new medication cocktail for my bipolar disorder, I watch about two to three hours of TV per day, an hour of news and socio-political commentary, & two hours of 'other' content.  This is a consumption pattern of more TV than at any other time in my 43 years of having a TV in my home.  My anti-TV philosophy, imbibed from several sources from the 1950s to the 1970s, has been slowly, by sensible and insensible degrees, been replaced by a rich appreciation of its value in my personal life.
Occasionally I used to get an LP bug and listen to classical music from my collection of LPs but, by 2009 and the age of 65, I had come to listen, as I say above, virtually entirely to classical items on the internet and on my Akai system with the radio station positioned at the classical FM Radio National, and jazz on my TV.

Part 4

One of the aims in the first 15 years of my retirement, 1999 to 2014, has been to integrate music, life's activities and my attitudes, beliefs and values, in a word, my religious beliefs in different ways in my poetry and in my postings on the internet.  The resources in the files in my study here in northern Tasmania, as well as the immense cornucopia of resources that is the world-wide-web, represent a base of information for my prose-poetic-writing.  As I pass through this second decade(2010-2020) of the years of my retirement, music and writing have become an immensely stimulating cross-fertilization.

Ron Price
18/6/'07 to 20/5/'14


FOLK MUSIC: an overview

Part 1:

I was involved along the edges of the folk music scene for perhaps 40 years: 1965 to 2005.  I won't give readers here the chapter and verse of my experience from listening to folk singers like: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs in the early to mid-sixties to playing folk songs to clients at an aged-care facility in the first decade of the 21st century.   I'll leave that until another day.  Starting in the mid-20th century, though, a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the second folk revival and it reached a zenith in the 1960s as I was coming into young adulthood.  This is where my first experience of folk music came in while I was in my late teens and early 20s and living in southern Ontario.

The most common name for this new form of music is also "folk music", but is often called "contemporary folk music" or "folk revival music" to make the distinction.  This type of folk music also included fusion genres such as: folk rock, electric folk, and others.  Contemporary folk music was a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music; it often shared the same English name, performers and venues as traditional folk music; even individual songs may be a blend of the two. Definitions of "contemporary folk music" are generally vague and variable. I take it to mean all music that is called folk and that is not traditional music; it a set of genres that began with and then evolved from the folk revival of the mid-20th century. For a detailed, indeed, a global story of folk music go to this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_music

Part 2:

I'll start with a little piece about Woody Guthrie whose name and whose music seems to me, in retrospect, as the starting point for my dalliance with folk music.  Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie(1912-1967) was an American singer-songwriter & folk musician whose musical legacy included 100s of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works.  He frequently performed with the slogan 'This Machine Kills Fascists' displayed on his guitar.  His best-known song was "This Land Is Your Land," a song I have sung & written improvised versions for dozens of times.  Many of his recorded songs are now archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as: Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, Bob Childers and Tom Paxton have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.

There was once a Hollywood producer named Irving Lerner.  It seems that Woody Guthrie sent Lerner a novel. Lerner did nothing with it, so it languished. In time, Lerner died, and his archive went to the McFarlin Centre at the University of Tulsa. For an article about Woodie Guthrie and Lerner in The New York Review of Books go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/25/what-woody-guthrie-wrote/

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND MUSIC

Digital technology has changed the ways in which music is perceived, stored, distributed, mediated and created. The world of music is now a vast and complex jungle, teeming with CDs, MP3s, concerts, clubs, festivals, conferences, exhibitions, installations, websites, software programmes, scenes, ideas and competing theories. In the eye of the storm stands David Toop, shedding light on the most interesting music now being made on laptops, in downtown bars in Tokyo, wherever he finds it.

Haunted Weather is part personal memoir and part travel journal, as well as an intensive survey of recent developments in digital technology, sonic theory and musical practice. Along the way Toop probes into the meaning of sound and silence, offering fascinating insights into how computers can be used for improvisation. His wealth of musical knowledge provides inspiration for anyone interested in music. For more go to:http://scan.net.au/scan/magazine/display.php?journal_id=19

WRITING ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE OF MUSIC

Very much awake, not far in some ways from dreamless sleep, I am sitting in a chair looking out at the sky. Outside a ground floor window of this aged-care facility all is quiet about 20 minutes before the evening meal.  In my near-hypnopaedic state, I float on the musical streams emanating from a small radio outside Ray's Room. Ray is 85 and has trouble putting words together in one of the multitude of manifestations of senile dementia. I glide through the words and the shapes of sound from a golden-oldie: Four Strong Winds.  It's a song I've sung a 100 times and played it on my guitar. Ray's ear is pressed closely to a pillow, and his body is infiltrated by the energies and many of the fatigues of 85 years of living. There are two pitches to the song, one a rumbling, fugitive, maybe a distant winter wind; maybe it's a lament heard from far northern climes where I once lived.  Ray does not lift his head from its hollow within the pillow; he does not pass outside the room to his chair where he sometimes sits. These notes from this old song vanish as if hidden by the real world where Ray lies and I sit.

I think of John Cage's story about his experience in a totally soundproof anechoic chamber, a place of no echoes. Drawn to silence he expected to discover exactly that.  Instead, he heard two persistent noises. The engineer in charge of the anechoic chamber at Harvard University explained: the high sound was the working of Cage's nervous system, the low sound was blood pulsing through his circulation. In other words, he was hearing his own lifeforce. Perhaps an aged-care worker would or could diagnose the melancholy notes filtering through this pillow as the chant of my own nostalgia. Alas and alack, they are all busy getting ready for the evening meal and getting those medications ready for the clients, the patients, the old and the sick and the dieing. For more of someone else's musical experience, the experience of David Toop, go to: http://scan.net.au/scan/magazine/display.php?journal_id=19

WHY I LOVE LEONARD COHEN


On Baffin Island, at the bottom end, in a town now given the name Iqaluit, in 1968, the poetry of Dylan and Cohen was the epitome of good taste—demanding some kind of commitment, some kind of spiritual yearning, a romantic obsession, and a great deal of intense discussion.  I was introduced to Leonard Cohen’s music by a new friend I had met, Buzz Gibson, who worked in the Hudson Bay store. I immediately went out and bought his first long-playing record which I had to order as I did everything else in that remote backwater of the Canadian Arctic where everywhere back then in the Arctic was remote and a backwater. The Songs of Leonard Cohen was the name of that first LP. Then I listened to him obsessively for years—always waiting for the next album like a child, at least until about 1975 when I stopped buying albums in my second marriage with two kids and on a teachers' salary. 

I never saw him perform live and I understand that forty-four years later now seventy-eight, Cohen has just finished a European tour and he's about to finish a thirty-five city American tour—a coup considering that American audiences have been on the whole less appreciative of his work than their European counterparts.  He needed the money and his latest biographer figures he earned a cool 10 to 13 million for his gambit around the world. His performances, which I occasionally hear on TV, are heart-rending, pure euphoria and exultation for me. He often plays for four hours and some of his audiences, I understand, won't let him go. At the end he skips off the stage like a young man. His latest album, Old Ideas, reached number one on the charts in eleven countries, from Belgium to Poland to Canada. Many of his most ardent fans do not speak English but learn the words of his songs nevertheless. For more on Cohen and his recent life go to: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/nov/15/why-i-love-leonard-cohen/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaignen


A NEW BIOGRAPHY OF LEONARD COHEN

Cohen is a notorious ladies' man. Cohen's biographer, Sylvie Simmons, says more than once in her enthralling, meticulously researched account, that he would have made a very good rabbi. Never mind that Cohen – poet, singer, 78 – is also an ordained Buddhist; had attained the grade of Senior Dianetic, Grade IV Release in the Church of Scientology in 1969 before falling out with the organisation. He knows a hell of a lot about scripture. A grandson of a rabbi, Cohen was born into a priestly class in Montreal's old, thriving Jewish community. But a keen interest in the profane – in sex and drugs, if not exactly rock'n'roll – has made him, instead, one of popular music's most unflinching sages. For more go to:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/nov/25/your-man-leonard-cohen-review

POP MUSIC: AN OVERVIEW

Part 1:

Since the late 1940s and early 1950s, pop history had seemingly unfolded, scene on scene, genre on genre, layering itself into a rich cultural tapestry worked over and over by music journalists, academics and fans. From the 1950s to the late 1960s, the change was relatively leisurely given what was to come. As a genre, pop music is very eclectic, often borrowing elements from other styles including urban, dance, rock, Latin, & country; nonetheless, there are core elements which define pop. Such include generally short-to-medium length songs, written in a basic format often in a verse-chorus structure, as well as the common employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and catchy hooks. For a comprehensive overview of pop music go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music

Then after I left Canada, and from the early to mid-1970s to spend the rest of my life in Australia, various splinters followed in the pop music world: psychedelic rock, progressive rock, glam rock, punk rock. In a parallel pop discourse, soul in various guises arose: Motown, southern, and Philly; in addition ska, reggae, and disco unfolded from the 1960s onwards, fully fledged by the time of punk in 1976 and 1977.  By then I was a lecturer in an Australian university and my only child was born. As the time stretched out starting from the 1950s, and ending in the mid-to-late 1970s, the pace of change in terms of genres sped up considerably by the period’s end. There was much less space & time for a scene or a genre in the late 1960s or 1970s, compared with 1950s or early 1960s, to grow from underground to overground.

Part 2:

Therefore, it was difficult to remain distinct from the pop mainstream. The same was true of its move back again into obscurity. Compare the gestation period of rock and roll, which took several years in the 1950s, with the gestation of punk which took approximately six months in 1976. By the late 1980s, when I was settling in to a dozen years of teaching in what are now polytechnics in Perth Western Australia, a fully-fledged new pop culture looked as if it only had the reconfigurations of the past with which to work.  But new media and new technologies were to intertwine with this new pop culture in the 1990s and the 2000s and beyond.  This so-called postmodern popular culture purported to work in an accelerated musical-cultural environment. Digitization, and the popular memory-repositories such as iTunes, the Internet Archive, and YouTube, increase the scale, scope, and speed through which texts, songs, films, and ideas cascade up and down this model. 

The sixty-five years of popular music, from 1950 to 2014, is now available for downloading on iTunes or YouTube. Pop can be plundered by the pop consumer of any age without any specific knowledge of the original position in linear history of the particular tune or performer. For more of this critical overview of popular music go to the fall 2013 issue of the online electronic journal: Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture  and an article entitled "Baudrillard in Drag: Lady Gaga and the Accelerated Cycles of Pop" at: http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/fall_2013/brabazon_redhead.htm

TEEN POP MUSIC


"Crazy About You: Reflections on the Meanings of Contemporary Teen Pop Music," Electronic Journal of Sociology (2002), Phillip Vannini and Scott M. Myers

Theodor Adorno(1903-1969), a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society was among the first sociologists to become concerned with the impact of popular music on society. When I taught sociology theory for trainee human service workers in the 1990s, I came across critical theory and Adorno.  I had first heard of him in my sociology studies at university(1963-1967). Adorno’s observations were highly pessimistic about the role that music played on political and cultural beliefs. While on his exile in the United States from Nazi Germany, Adorno found the increased availability of music recordings, music's massive diffusion, to be leading audiences to mass consumption and the uncritical adoption of a consumerist culture. According to Adorno, while different in character, the function of music was reminiscent of German Nazi propaganda as a system of cultural domination and manipulation of consumer minds.

In Adorno's view, the standardized and repetitive character of music led listeners to regress to “child-like” consumption, which he called “quotation listening” (Adorno, 1991: pages 44-45). In 'quotation listening' audiences reach an even less critical level of consumption that is characterized by a trance-like state of effortless thinking focused on accepting and obsessing with a song’s hooks—the catchiest and most recurrent verses and melody passages. Some of the characteristics of popular music that Adorno observed are still typical of popular music today, especially teen pop with its emphasis on repeated chorus lines and catchy hooks. For more go to:http://www.sociology.org/archive.html

THE BEST CRITIC OF POPULAR MUSIC

Mark Steyn is so thoroughly embroiled in the world debate about Islam and Islamism that even his admirers, let alone his detractors, tend to forget he has another existence, as the best critic of popular song since Alec Wilder. Indeed he has a greater range than Wilder, and possibly even a greater technical sensitivity, especially to lyrics and the alchemical way they can be multiplied in their poetic effect by music. Anyone who has never experienced this aspect of Steyn’s work can make a good start by reading his 2008 essay on the Sinatra anthem “It Was A Very Good Year”, which started out as a number for the Kingston Trio. 

It’s a fitting tribute to Mark Steyn, in this field of his work, that he never writes less well than the lyricist he is talking about. This essay is an object lesson in how to write about popular culture, and therefore, in the view of the culture critic Clive James, about culture in general. Those who find Steyn’s political opinions simplistic need to be reminded that they are the product of a subtle intelligence, and that the first thing to do, when arguing with the devil, is to give him his due. Read Mark Steyn's article “It Was A Very Good Year” at:http://www.steynonline.com/

MUSIC: SOME GENERAL COMMENTS


Part 1:

Of all the arts, music works most directly on the nerves, seemingly unfiltered through a system of meaning. In the opera, music does not come to us through the words: the words arrive through the music and sometimes give it greater force: in most operas, the force of love. Provided that the staging does not distract or force itself too insistently upon our unwilling consciousness, the music benefits from the bright contrast with the dumpy, sweaty bodies that are producing it—it is like sex without shame or physical awkwardness or postcoital sadness, not as good as the real thing, of course, but still a great consolation.


This is the side of opera from which The New Grove Dictionary of Opera modestly averts its eyes. There is no article on Eroticism and Opera. Why not? There is one on Milwaukee. That is why the entry on Tristan und Isolde, except for the banal observation that the love duet ends with coitus interruptus, does not face the sexual implications of the score, or the way it is almost always Isolde who is on top, so to speak—playing the man’s role, when she stands with the sword raised over Tristan’s wounded body as her narrative recalls in the first act, or seizes the only too obvious symbol of the torch in the second act to brandish it and bring on the catastrophe. It is also why there is no article on Kierkegaard, who wrote more explicitly than anyone before him on the erotic nature of music, and who understood the character of Mozart’s art better than most of the critics who came after. Soren Kierkegaard(1813-1855)  was a Danish Christian philosopher and theologian, considered to be a founder of Existentialist thought and Absurdist traditions.

Part 2:

The basis of opera speciously appears to be an opposition between the ideal purity of the music and the gritty reality needed to produce it, the silly costumes, the ridiculous plots, the embarrassing decor: but the music hides within itself a reality fully as abrasive, equally physical. Readers who would like to further their understanding of both Kierkegaard and opera can easily google these two subjects and, in the process, hopefully gain a greater understanding of the comments I am making about music in this sub-section of my website. For more on the subject of opera go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera For a review in The New York Review of Books(2/4/'15) of Maria Callas Remastered: Complete Studio Recordings, 1949–1969(Warner Classics, 69 CDs) go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/apr/02/new-maria-callas/?insrc=toc


OPERA

Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text & musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, andcostumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. It started in Italy at the end of the 16th century with Jacopo Peri's lost Dafne, produced in Florence in 1598.  It soon spread through the rest of Europe: Schütz in Germany, Lully in France, and Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. In the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe except France. It attracted foreign composers such as Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. Today the most renowned figure of late 18th century opera is Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition.

Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net is an online journal. The following article: “Harmonies divine, yet ever new: Shelleyan Music & the Poetry of Desire in Prometheus Unbound" by Suzanne L. Barnett is concerned with the influence of opera on the poet Shelley. Go to: https://ravonjournal.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/art03barnett.pdf  For more on opera in general go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera


A LONG CONVERSATION

Four years ago, in the last half of March 2011, I enjoyed two Elvis Costello interviews with Bruce Springsteen on ABC TV in Australia.(1) Elvis Costello(1954- ) is an English singer-songwriter. He began his career as part of London's pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk/New Wave movement of the mid-to-late 1970s. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader than that of most popular songs. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a "pop encyclopaedia", able to "reinvent the past in his own image".


My life has been busy in retirement and it took me more than one week to synthesize some of Springsteen’s ideas about R&R in the form of this prose-poem.  Springsteen talked about R&R's new energy and the general direction it took since: (i)  Elvis Presley in the ‘50s and (ii) the explosion of R&R in the 1960s. The answers Springsteen gave to Costello’s questions led to this prose-poem.  I must say that I am certainly no authority on Springsteen or his music.  I have simply enjoyed some of his songs over the years since he came to fame in the early to mid-70s some 40 years ago when I was teaching at two colleges of advanced education in Australia, in Launceston and Ballarat respectively. 

Springsteen's early years(1962-1972) and his years of initial struggle for success(1972-1974) mirrored my own.  My career in the teaching profession took off about the same time as Springsteen’s in the music world but, of course, I never flew as high.  We all fly in the sky and sink into the earth in varying degrees of success and failure in our earthly life.-Ron Price with thanks to: (1)“Spectacle: Elvis Costello With Bruce,” ABC TV, 11:30-12:15 a.m., 17 and 24 March 2011 with several updates to the date 20/5/'14.


You said, Bruce, that so many of
your songs were about identity:
who am I and where am I going?
spot on, Bruce! That’s what my
poetry is all about too and we all
tell stories in such different ways
because our identity is so unique.

But getting other people to share
one’s obsessions is a very big ask,
eh Bruce? You can die trying....We
each work out our modus operandi,
our modus vivendi, as we walk the
walk and talk the talk.....eh Bruce?
Life-art is one long conversation
with our audience and ourselves,
would you agree with this, Bruce?

And one must keep one’s little bit of
sermonizing in very low gear: people
run away if you turn up the volume,
eh? You just can’t tell others what to
think, can you Bruce? Thanks muchly
Bruce, for your helping me manage
what’s been eating me. You put things
well. Bruce after all your years back to
1962 when we both got going....me(1)
on my Baha’i trip and you with your
many & several commitments with our
respective impacts on the marketplace
of ideas.....you were definitely a winner
there, yes....Bruce,,,,congratulations!!!

(1)
The birth of R&R coincided with the Ten Year Crusade(1953-1963) in which I was involved. This was the first international teaching Plan of the global Baha’i community which my family was involved with starting in Burlington Ontario in 1953.

Ron Price
23/3/'11 to 20/5/'14.


INVENTION AND REINVENTION OF SELF

Section 1:

Growing-up in the 1950s and 1960s, in the first generation to be exposed to rock-and-roll, I have watched many a singer invent and reinvent themselves as the years passed. Perhaps David Bowie was the example here, par excellence. A common feature in Bowie’s videos, as well as his stage shows, is an obsession with masks & mirrors, sometimes he uses several mirrors at the same time: his characters watch themselves being watched. In his earlier interviews, in the 1970s, in my first decade living in Australia, transported to the moon, it sometimes felt being so far away from my home in Canada. Bowie spoke often about schizophrenia. Stage roles would spill out into his personal life. As Bowie put it: “I couldn’t decide whether I was writing characters or whether the characters were writing me.” Many rockers, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, grew up in such places, which the novelist J.G. Ballard, who lived for most of his adult life in Twickenham, described as: "far more sinister places than most city dwellers imagine. Their very blandness forces the imagination into new areas. I mean, one’s got to get up in the morning thinking of a deviant act, merely to make certain of one’s freedom." For more on Bowie, his roles and masks, and his myriad reinventions of self, go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/may/23/invention-david-bowie/?page=1

I mention this concept of the reinvention of self, & watching it being played out in the musical world over the decades of my youth & adulthood, because I had to do the same time & time again since my youth.  I was not that conscious of this process when I was young but, as I reflect over the years from childhood into the evening of my life, I had so many roles: I lived in 37 houses, two dozen towns, 2 marriages, more jobs than I care to count, more conversations from deep and meaningful to utterly meaningless and trivial than I would even want to try & enumerate, more psychological states from utter despair and the death wish at one end of my personality and mood spectrum to an ecstatic euphoria and bliss at the other, many burn-outs, psychiatric units and hospitals. For an audio on Bowie: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drawingroom/being

By the age of 55, in 1999, I said to myself, sensibly and insensibly and as the years went on incrementally into my late 50s in the early years of the 21st century: "I want-off; I want out; I want to pull-the-plug, get off the endless treadmill of occupations and responsibilities, demands and  duties, weights and obligations, endless conversations & discussions, etc." I was not well; I had had to deal with the rigors of bipolar 1 disorder for decades, a disorder which tests and metal of a saint, and I am no saint. The affects of being bipolar are highly idiosyncratic. Each person's story is different, although there are patterns across the lives of those who have to deal with this disorder in their personal lives. My story can be Googled by typing the words: 'Ron Price BPD' into your search engiene.

Section 2:

This reinvention of myself, to which I refer above, took place sensibly and insensibly from my mid-to-late 50s to my mid-60s.  By the time I went onto two old-age pensions at the age of 65 in 2009, I was still going through medication changes, changes which altered, as medications always do at least in my case, my moods and dispositions, my behaviour and personality. As I write these words in the first months of my 71st year, in the Australian spring of 2014, I trust I have had the last medication change, the last cocktail, to take me into old-age, the years after 80, into the late evening of my life and the final nightfall.  But, of course, no man knows what or when, how and why, his own end shall be.

Most of my life-style now takes place in solitude. I give myself to solitude as a thirsty man in the desert does to water.  As that great English essayist William Hazlitt once wrote, though: "I am never less alone than when I am alone."  I now have several roles which I mention time and again on this website. They are all related to writing and reading, research and editing and, if I want a little conversation I drop downstairs to see my wife, or I visit a friend for a half an hour or an hour.  I'm also a parent and grandparent, a secretary of the local Baha'i community, and a member of a cluster of some 100 Baha'is in northern Tasmania. All of these roles involve interaction and I try to keep that interaction to as few hours at a time as possible. Two to three hours at any one time is about all I can deal with without exhaustion setting in. I'll come back to this theme at a later date as I head through my 70s, from 2014 to 2024, my 80s and 90s, if I last that long.

THE BEAT GENERATION

In many ways poetry is a type of music. The following two prose-poems are about one of the early influences on my poetry, The Beat Generation. The Beat Generation was a group of American post-World War II writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, the decade when I finished my childhood and entered my teens. The Beat Generation was a cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of "Beat" culture included experimentation with drugs, alternative forms of sexuality, an interest in Eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and the idealizing of exuberant, unexpurgated means of expression and being. You can go to this link for a useful overview on the subject of The Beats and their poetry:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Generation


ROADMAP
IN 1959

Part 1:

In the 1950s and 1960s there were evolving etymologies for the word beat.  In "The Origins of the Beat Generation," originally published in Playboy magazine in 1959, the year I joined the Bahá'í Faith, the beat poet Jack Kerouac wrote that the word beat originally meant poor, down and out, deadbeat, on the bum, sad and sleeping in subways.  He further noted that the word had gained an extended meaning connoting people who "have a certain new gesture, or attitude.”(1)  Kerouac suffused the label with positive connotations, a move he later extended into giving "beat" a religious significance. The Beats were for a time, in this evolving etymology, saints in the making who were walking the Earth doing good deeds in the name of sanctitude, holiness and the beatific. There was certainly an element of this in the Bahá'í ethos of the Ten Year Crusade of 1953-1963.

Kerouac had at one stage claimed that "beat" was the second religiousness in Western Civilization that the historian Oswald Spengler had prophesized in his The Decline of the West.(2) 
Spengler(1880-1936) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West published in 1918 and 1922 where he proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay. In 1920 Spengler produced Prussiandom and Socialism which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism. He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe. Some National Socialists, such as Goebbels, held Spengler as an intellectual precursor but he was ostracised after 1933 for his pessimism about Germany's and Europe's future, his refusal to support Nazi ideas of racial superiority, and his critical work The Hour of Decision. 

By 1965 Kerouac had changed the above view of the beats, the beatniks, the counter-culture and, in fact, strongly denounced its entire ethos.  By the mid-soaring sixties he had come to see that generation of dissent and dissenters as the very opposite of Spengler’s second-religiousness. He called it “a soaring hysteria.”(3) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Jack Kerouac, "The Origins of the Beat Generation," in Don Allen, ed., Good Blonde and Others, Grey Fox Press, San Francisco, 1994, p. 61; (2) ibid., p.66 and (3) Ann Charters, ed., Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969, Penguin Books, NY, 1999, p. 464.

Part 2:

Your notion of Beat as a Spenglerian
second coming ended in a very bitter
disappointment......millennial believer
whose apocalypse just never arrived.

You denied all political---collectivist
implications for the beats & beatniks. 

You had used the term back in 1951 to
describe guys who ran around the land
and country in cars looking for jobs and
girlfriends, kicks and fun.  You remained
an on-again off-again beat.....throughout
your life, flirting with many religions, but
always infusing them with a dose of your
Catholicism to which you ultimately went
back for its: "order, tenderness & piety"
as you put in in one of your many letters.

The word "beat" had extended to cover
all of America by the end of the sixties
and most of the world. The young used
your On the Road as a search-roadmap.(1)

But you abdicated your status as King of
the Road as well as King of the Beats.(2)

(1)   Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), On the Road, 1957.
(2)   I thank Bent Sørensen for his: “An On & Off Beat: Kerouac's Beat Etymologies,” in philament: An Online Journal of Arts and Culture, April, 2004.

Ron Price
2 January 2010


THE BEATS AND ME

As I write the following prose-poem, my 9 month old grand-daughter, Grace Carmel Price, had just gone off to sleep. This is always a blessing for my wife and I when we are doing our stint of baby-sitting. My wife was gearing-up for her Sunday football on TV in Australia, when my eye caught ABC24’s Big Ideas: The Practice of the Wild.(1)  This 2010 doco was about the life of the American Beat poet, Gary Snyder.  His first book, Riprap, drew on his experiences as a forest lookout and as one of the trail-crew in Yosemite national park.  The book was published in 1959. I was 15 years old at the time and in love with baseball, hockey, football and Susan Gregory.  I also joined the Baha’i Faith that same year. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) ABC24, 1:00-2:00 p.m., 3 June 2012.  For a review of this doco on 8 November 2011, go to: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-practice-of-the-wild/5150

In 1959 you shipped for Japan
where you rented that cottage
outside Kyoto & studied Zen.

You married in February 1960,
four months after I joined the
Baha’i Faith.  Your poetry was
about your experiences, ideas,
& environments involved with
the work you did for a living:
logger, fire-lookout, crewman
on a freighter, translator, poet,
carpenter, and serious student
of Japanese animism………....

You’ve been at it for 50+ years,
Gary, and I hardly knew you;
but I got your story today, &
reading about the origins of
the Beat generation as far as
the start of my life in the mid-
‘40s, I realized how much a
part of my own work is yours.

Still, my work is very different.
I really did not get ‘into’ poetry
until I was nearing the end of my
working life: 1955 to 1999--with
all its ups-and-downs, its endless
meetings, wall-to-wall people, &
finally, the urge to write poems.

Some had that Beat influence which
had been on the periphery of my life
since my early childhood: ‘46 to ’50.
But my poetry had a myriad influences;
with nearly 70 booklets & 7000 poems
I’d say I’m more eclectic than Beat….I
enjoyed learning about you today, Gary.

Ron Price


JOHN LENNON AND THE BEATLES

I've never been a big Beatles fan but, for those who are, the following discussion of John Lennon and his famous interview with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine at the end of 1970, might be of interest.  The interview took place a few days before the release of the most important solo-Beatle record, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. My first wife and I were getting ready, at the time, to travel to Australia to take-up teaching positions with the South Australian Education Department. Go to this link for the full discussion which begins in the paragraph below:  http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n01/jeremy-harding/the-groom-stripped-bare-by-his-suitor

"Rolling Stone published the interview early the following year, with the album already in the shops. Between them, the record and the interview seemed to round off the 1960s nicely – or nastily, come to that. Many things seemed to do the same, of course, but in this case the dating was pretty precise. It was ten years since John, Paul, George and Ringo had recorded their first session together at the Akustik, a small studio in Hamburg (apparently a single 78 rpm copy of ‘Summertime’ still survives); and Lennon’s declaration that ‘the dream is over’ in ‘God’, track ten on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, felt like a speech from the heart at the last-ever anniversary party."

MY SING-ALONGS

PART I

The following 2000 word essay explores my singalongs and my two-2 ring binders: 1943 to 2014. What follows is the story of the gradual evolution of singalongs and singalong booklets in my life: 1943 to 2014.   Both my mother and father had been involved in singalongs before I was born.  In my prenatal, neonatal, and childhood life singalongs were part of my environment and my lived-experience. The first booklets of music in my life, at least those I remember, go back to 1950 when I was five years old. The first booklet of music that I put together myself in order to run singalongs was in the late 1960s, in 1968 when I was twenty-four.  From about 1950 to about 1965, my years of growing up in the family home, I ran along on the singalong booklets of others: my parents', my friends’ and, of course by the decade 1959 to 1969, TV’s and radio's many-idiomed and formatted aural-texts. During the period of more than 70 years, then, from 1943 to 2014, I have been involved in singalongs in one form or another.

In the years of this 3rd millennium, 2001 to 2014, singalongs using booklets of songs I created took place for the most part at an aged care facility, an Australian government-funded aged care home, called the Ainslie House. This collection of buildings is located beside the Tamar River, an estuary, that runs beside George Town and Low Head in Tasmania. The residents of this home in this the oldest town in Australia, live in a modern and attractive facility about one kilometre from the Bass Strait, an extension of the Great Southern Ocean at the other end of the world from where I was born and grew to maturity in southern Ontario Canada.

I have been in at least two dozen aged-care buildings in my life.  In the late 1990s I taught aged-care studies at a Technical and Futher Education college in Perth Western Australia. These are places where home--at least in one of the main styles of facility--means living with many other people under one roof, getting used to other people doing some of the everyday things you might have done previously for yourself and by yourself or with your immediate family.  These places for the old and the dieing require a working-out of new balances between one’s need for privacy and the inevitable community nature of such a life.  There are now, of course, an increasing variety of such facilities which this short essay will not attempt to explore in any detail.  Aged-care facilities are slowly becoming an increasing presence across our culture as war-babies like myself and baby-boomers all come into their late adulthood(60 to 80), and old age(80+) incrementally year after year beginning early in this 3rd millennium.   Any child born in the first year of WW2, that is, in 1939, was seventy-four in 2014.  Aged-care was becoming very quickly a vast industry.

PART 2

So it was that leading singalongs with the very old was, in some ways, a natural event.  In 2014 I was 70. This is an age of many of the residents of this aged-care facility here in Tasmania. So I was right at home as I sang my songs. I had been a lecturer in aged-care studies programs where I finished my teaching career in an Australian technical and further education college. I dealt with students studying aged-care and other specialist training programs in various human services certificate and diploma courses. I became, as I had so often before, “an instant expert” in a field about which I had previously known very little.  I became a quasi-expert in more and more subjects as the years went on in my teaching career.  The process tends to be the opposite of PhD studies in which one knows more and more about less and less---or so it is often said. 

A range of different levels of care as well as specialist services are available here in these buildings, this aged-care facility. This facility is beside a river, the Tamar River, an estuary, Port Dalrymple, a stone's throw from the Bass Strait.  It's under one management and organizational structure: high and low level care, short and long term care, independent unit and shared accommodation, transitional as well as particular and multi-service care are all available under one roof. Care and services such as: respite care, care for particular cultural needs and health conditions, care for end-of-life clients, for war veterans, for the socially and financially disadvantaged, for the mentally-ill and for people living in rural or remote areas.

PART 3

To a lesser extent I also led singalongs in the years 1999 to 2005 in the Baha’i community.  I had, by 2005, been associated with the Baha'i Faith for six decades.  By 2005 my singalongs with Baha'i groups were rare occasions but, it was my hope that they would increase in my life in the Baha'i community when and if my health improved.  My final singalongs in classrooms took place as my teaching in FT, PT and volunteer teaching wound down in that same decade. These singalongs became rare events in my last years in Perth Western Australia in large Baha’i communities and the smaller ones in northern Tasmania where I lived after 1999, and in the several classrooms where I taught.  During the first 15 years that I lived in Tasmania during my early retirement, 1999 to 2014, guitar-playing and singalongs slipped to the far periphery of my life with one main bastion of singing-activity with the old and dieing.  In the last three years, and settling-in to a new cocktail of medications for my bipolar disorder, I have only played twice with an audience of some 30 people at this local aged-care facility, Ainslie House. The Distraction Therapists at Ainslie, the ladies who invite me to play and entertain the troops, tell me their work-load is too heavy to develop the music and entertainment program for the residents. 

In some ways it was fitting that the last few years of the singalongs in my life, 2002-2014, involved mostly senior citizens, the aged, old people, those in late adulthood(60 to 80) and old age(80++)--here in George Town, as I say above, Australia’s oldest town.  I used large-print songbooks published in the UK with a small singing group, choir was not quite the right word, until 2005.  I say “fitting” because the content of these booklets was mainly for the two generations born before WW2--in the first four decades of the twentieth century—the earliest years in Canada and Australia of the activity of the Baha’i community, the religious community I have been associated with now for more than 60 years.  The Baha'i Faith began in Canada in 1898 and in Australia in 1921.

By 2010, though, the material in my two volumes, my two 2-ring binders, that I used for singalongs was for all age groups. There are very few songs that originated in the period, the two generations that were born in the last 40 years, my years since arriving in Tasmania, from 1974 to 2014.  The group born in the years after about 1974, the year I arrived in Tasmania,  will find few songs that were popular from their years of listening experience in these two binders. I did not listen to the music of those two generations. For the music of some two generations(1974 to 1994 and 1994 to 2014), of the great mass of popular music; for example, the songs of groups like Abba, among a host of others, I never bought the sheet music nor did I learn how to play the songs in some personally inventive way by figuring out the chords. So it was that, by 2014, I did not know the songs of those under forty well enough to sing them in groups informally in the Baha’i community or in any other communities of which I was a part as a teacher in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, as an adult educator, as a quasi-entertainer or as a person in one of a number of other roles I have had during those years.

PART 4

The resources in these music booklets, these files, this collection, are here for singalongs in the groups I am involved with as I head, in 2014, through the last decade(70 to 80) of late adulthood(60 to 80), and finally, old age(80++), if I last that long.  I have multiple copies of what I have come to call 'the music of other interest groups'--for those not familiar with the Baha’i musical experience, booklets of songs I put together for students in classrooms where I used to teach as well as other groups. I have many editions of song books in multiple copy form that I made for Baha’i groups, as I say, as far back as the late 1980s. Songbooks from the previous two decades, the years 1970 to 1990, and the two decades before that, 1950 to 1970, have all been lost, or they have been thrown away. Many just disappeared into the sands of time, the time that has been my life, as it has slipped irretrievably from my grasp.

These musical experiences called singalongs have returned to my life now here in George Town in recent years, but only on the rarest of occasions.  In July 2008, some six years ago now, I put together a package/booklet of 75 songs as requested by the local aged-care centre.  Who knows when and who knows where and how these singalongs will develop in these years of my late adulthood.  In the 5 year period, July 2009 to July 2014, I only sang four times at this old-age home.  My wife and son had become more than a little tired of hearing the same old stuff back in the 1980s and 1990s, and when I sang at home it was in our spare bedroom with the door shut.   I am not a particularly talented guitarist and it is understandable that my wife and son have got tired of hearing all these old songs, this repertoire of mine.  Singing in groups seemed to become passe, perhaps even to become seen as declasse or lower in social status/standing in the wider society or at least many sectors of the wider society that I came to live and have my being in by the 1990s and 2000s.  Of course, this is not true everywhere in the 1000s of cities, towns and hamlets across the planet.

Part 4.1

This form of self-entertainment and group entertainment that does not rely on the electronic media is far from dead and I feel it will again be part of my life in these years before my demise, my passing from this mortal coil. In some ways it has been fitting, as I say, that most of the singalongs I have been part of in the last 15 years, 2000 to 2014, have involved residents of a home for those in aged-care, for people on their last legs.  I often thought that American writer William Faulkner's spirit may have been present in those sing alongs. I often thought, too, as I led these old folks in song that the spirit Faulkner had when he wrote his now famous book As I Lay Dieing may just be at the back of the leisure-social-room where we had our singalongs; perhaps this great writer, this winner of a Nobel prize in literature, hangs around the ceiling or occupied another place in these rooms. Perhaps he was outside just by the windows where the poet-historian Arnold Toynbee says we are peopled by the lives, the unseen, unknown, unobserved souls, millions upon billions of souls at just one remove, one step, beyond our senses in a land of lights never to return to this earth, its beauties and its uglinesses, its bitter-sweetnesses and its joys.

These people who now sing along with me from time to time all lay, sat up or palely loitered about, dieing slowly. Each month that I went back to this old-folks home during the latter years of these singalongs someone else had died, sometimes two or three had died or had moved to the very edge of their final hour. Some sat in some state of increased decrepitude to the state I had observed in my previous visit;  some looked brighter and more alert. Sometimes I was brighter and more alert. The term ‘old-folks home’ was the term we used to call these places for the old and dieing when I was a kid. And of course it was just that, a home, the last for those who were old. It was their home, their last home on this earthly plane.

PART 5

Slowly I got to know many of the names of these souls, got to know their life stories, their particular ailments in great detail—as some old people are want to tell you to the nth degree of finitude. I also got to know a little of their philosophies and their religious proclivities.   The resources in my personally prepared, tenderly fostered, not-oft-used-and-repeated booklets of singing material that are here in my files, my collections, are getting a new, an occasional, lease on life. They had often been kept, in this first decade of the 3rd millennium, tightly sealed with a big rubber-band around them, in keeping for a future time when singalongs would once again return to my life.  These singalongs would one day return to the groups I was involved with in these years of my late adulthood and what would become, finally, old age.  The rubber bands are now off and its action-stations for singalongs once again. Perhaps, when I get my own life on medications sorted I will be more use in the singalong world.

Old age begins, say some human development psychologists, at the age of 80.  I've come to like that model since the 1990s when I was a teacher of a psychology course on human development. This model gives me now, as it has given me in the last decade, many more years before the onset of old age.  As things stand now in 2014, I have another 10 years before I'm actually, officially, or shall I say psychologically, in theory at least, de facto, old.  So, I have plenty of years left, potentially,  for singalongs. Perhaps they may still be in my life in the 2040s, the decade when I become a centenarian. We shall see what those mysterious dispensations of a Watchful Providence provide in this the evening of my life as nightfall gradually approaches and “I go into a hole for those who speak no more,” as that great prophetic Precursor of Baha'u'llah, the Báb, once expressed life's experience of one's final hour so very graphically and so literally in His voluminous writings back in the 1840s.

Ron Price
29/6/10 to 20/5/'14.


FRED ASTAIRE

Now that The Artist has whetted our interest in the silent film and the revolutionary impact of sound, it may be time to reconsider the career of the man who made the conversion to sound the basis of a whole new kind of movie, Fred Astaire. The Artist suggests quite accurately that the definitive event of the new sound era was the arrival of the film musical. Sound meant music; music meant jazz. But the technological transition was slow. After the first feature-length sound movie, The Jazz Singer (1927), which starred Al Jolson, it was six years before the advent of the Jazz Dancer proved that talking and even singing mouths were not nearly as expressive in the new medium as dancing feet, especially and almost exclusively the feet of Fred Astaire. Astaire, and the difference he made to the film musical, add up to more than the story of one career. No other film genre provided as perfect a synchronization of sight and sound or an experience as exhilarating, and that was very largely Astaire’s doing.

The title of Todd Decker’s highly specialized, richly detailed book, Music Makes Me, comes from the Vincent Youmans song to which Astaire danced his first screen solo, in Flying Down to Rio (1933). Earlier in the movie, Ginger Rogers sang it:

    I like music old and new,
    But music makes me do the things
    I never should do.

For more on Fred Astaire go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/05/theyre-the-top-adele-fred-astaire/

CLASSICAL MUSIC: Part 1:

Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to this 21st century. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period.  If you think classical music is purely a rarefied pursuit, where what matter are creativity, spirit and soul, then read the following: 

"The musician's body often suffers much more than people are aware. Midway through a high-powered symphony; sitting near the crashing cymbals in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture; during the long haul of Wagner's "Ring" cycle---these are all examples in which problems can arise.  Take violinist David Harrington. He was in rehearsals with his adventurous Kronos Quartet, preparing to play the epic String Quartet No. 2 by Morton Feldman — it notoriously spans six hours without intermission. Just continuous playing through what seems like a universe of time. "We'd already done eight performances of the piece, and this 1996 concert at Lincoln Center was to be our last outing with it," he said by phone from San Francisco. But pains started shooting up and down his arm 40 minutes into rehearsal. They grew more and more alarming. "Finally, after several hours of rehearsal, the pain was excruciating," he said. "We ended up canceling this last and most famous venue for the work." For more on this theme, and on classical music in general go to
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-musician-pain-20130804,0,5605060.story  For more on the extensive subject of classical music go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

CLASSICAL MUSIC: Part 2:

The core repertory of Western classical music is dominated by a small number of composers, mostly German and Austrian, mostly of the 18th and 19th centuries. In their work, perfection – of form, melody, harmony and rhythm – is common; in fact it occurs in their music with a frequency unimaginable in painting, except perhaps for Raphael, or literature. Yet even in such extraordinary company Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) stands in solitary eminence, at the very pinnacle of the art. A large number of his works are still quite regularly performed.  The year 2000 marked the 250th anniversary of his death and that anniversary resulted in a vast outpouring of Bach recordings. One of these took place every week for a year all over Europe and North America. The intention was to match the composer’s own Sunday series for the churches he served as choirmaster and organist. Yet even this enormous quantity of work is not the totality of Bach’s output. According to Christoph Wolff, his most recent and thorough biographer, at least half of Bach’s church oeuvre has been lost, along with many instrumental and ensemble pieces. The sheer density and quality of what remains is all the more staggering.

The above paragraph comes from the pen of Edward Said(1935-2003) who was a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, a literary theorist, and a public intellectual who was a founding figure of the critical-theory field of Post-colonialism.  Go to Edward Said's essay in the London Review of Books in 2001. The essay is entitled 'Cosmic Ambition', and it is a review of the 600 page book 
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christoph Wolff(Oxford, 2000) at:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n14/edward-said/cosmic-ambition

RENAISSANCE MUSIC

Part 1:

Renaissance music is music written in Europe during the Renaissance. Consensus among music historians – with notable dissent – has been to start the era around 1400, with the end of the medieval era, and to close it around 1600, with the beginning of the Baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as understood in other disciplines. As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of ancient Greece and Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprise; the rise of a bourgeois class; and the Protestant Reformation. From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school. For more on Renaissance music go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_music

Part 2:

Of all the great Renaissance composers, William Byrd (circa 1540–1623) is perhaps the most approachable, the most direct in his communication, and arguably the most modern in his concerns. The gloriously continual euphony associated with Palestrina & his school has for many listeners characterized the sound of the Renaissance, experienced over generations as a model that both gave expression to the Counter-Reformation & provided a template for how music should (until recent decades) weave seamlessly into the celebrations of the Roman Catholic liturgy. For more on Byrd go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/dec/19/william-byrd-glorious-composer/

Byrd’s music seems to offer something tauter and more concentrated than this. The English music that directly preceded his was wonderfully effusive, as in the endlessly elaborated, decorative lines of the Eton Choirbook, designed for performance in a resonant acoustic. From this expansiveness Byrd distils his expressiveness down to the essentials. 

MORE ON DANCE: modern dance


In her youth Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) more or less created what we now call American modern dance, and she soon became famous for it. She was also a beauty, leaving behind her a trail of glamorous lovers. But by 1927, when she was fifty, all that was over. Duncan was living in a rented studio in Nice. She was barely performing any longer, and years of hard living—above all, heavy drinking—had coarsened her looks. Her most recent and thorough biographer, Peter Kurth, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Observer, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Salon.com., quotes Nicolas Nabokov(1903-1978), a Russian-born composer, writer, and cultural figure to the effect that, already in the early 1920s in the last decade of her life, her 40s, “her baggy face was glistening and red.” Her hair was patchily hennaed; her body, heavy now, was draped in tatty shawls. She had no money. She went to parties in order to eat the canapés. One writer characterizes her as something close to a nymphomaniac. Others would say that she just liked sex very much, not merely as a physical experience and a proof of her allure, but also as a spur to thoughts of the infinite. She speaks of it that way.

Duncan seems to be somewhat of a precursor to some of the 1960s and post-60s spirit in her dress and her taste for sex. In Naomi Wolf's book Vagina: A New Biography, Wolf writes that when it's going right, there's a "post-coital rush of a sense of vitality infusing the world, of delight with myself and with all around me." Men and women have been after that for some time. I can hear readers saying: "I'll have what she's having." Well Duncan wanted that and she went after it with some gusto, it appears, as she went after modern dance as well. For more on Duncan and modern dance, go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/may/23/isadora-duncan-ecstasy-modern-romantic/

MORE ON MODERN DANCE

Modern dance is a term usually referring to 20th-century concert dance, although it has also been applied to a category of 20th-century ballroom dances. Modern dance refused classical ballet's stress on feet as the primary catalyst for dance movements. It, instead, put stress on torso employing such elements as contact-release, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation. It was usually performed in bare feet, often with non-traditional costuming. For more on modern dance go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_dance

NIJINSKY

Vaslav Nijinsky(1889-1950) was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent, cited as the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century. He was almost immobile at the last moment of his real life. Only his expressive hands moved, turning magazine pages as he waited outside the office of a pioneer psychiatrist at a Zurich asylum. After a consultation the doctor privately announced to Nijinsky's wife, the incorrigible Romola de Pulszky, that her husband was incurably mad. Nijinsky already knew his condition; he had kept an inventory of his own disintegration in a journal. As De Pulszky came out of the office, he said – if she is to be believed, which she usually isn't – "You are bringing me my death sentence." Which she was – there followed 31 years of schizophrenia with rare lucid episodes. He was never himself again. For more on this famous dancer go to these two links:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n18/james-davidson/half-snake-halfpanther and : http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/01/nijinsky-lucy-moore-review

CLASSICAL MUSIC

The most outstanding characteristic of classical music is that the repertoire tends to be written down in musical notation, creating a musical part or score. This score typically determines details of rhythm, pitch, and, where two or more musicians, whether singers or instrumentalists, are involved, how the various parts are coordinated. The written quality of the music has, in addition to preserving the works, enabled a high level of complexity within them: Bach's fugues, for instance, achieve a remarkable marriage of boldly distinctive melodic lines weaving in counterpoint yet creating a coherent harmonic logic that would be impossible in the heat of live improvisation.

The instruments used in most classical music were largely invented before the mid-19th century, and often much earlier. The music was codified in the 18th & 19th centuries. They consist of the instruments found in an orchestra or concert band, together with several other solo instruments, such as the piano, harpsichord, and organ. The symphony orchestra is the most widely known medium for classical music.  The orchestra includes members of the string, woodwind, brass, & percussion families. The concert band, another ensemble that plays classical music, includes members of the woodwind, brass, and percussion families. The concert band generally has a larger variety of woodwind and brass instruments than the orchestra. For more of an outline on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_music

CONDUCTORS

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands and other musical ensembles often have conductors.

The mystery of who and what the conductor Leonard Bernstein was is what draws us to accounts of his life, and now to a large collection of his letters, The Leonard Bernstein Letters, edited by Nigel Simeone. Surely the letters of such a well-educated and literate man, a practiced and effective writer—author of best sellers about music, important lectures, successful television scripts—will be revealing? Alas, it is not so. Despite his cleverness and charm—which definitely come through—we’re left knowing no more, really, than we knew before. The confusion between genius and narcissism, heroism and self-pity, generosity and exploitation remains unresolved. His astounding energies both made him everything he was and undermined him. Was he a composer or a conductor? Was he “serious” as in the “Jeremiah” Symphony, Chichester Psalms; or was he into “showbiz” as in On the Town, West Side Story? Was he straight as shown in his beloved Felicia, and their three cherished children, or was he gay like just about everyone else? Was he loyal to his friends and benefactors or careless with them? Was he deeply emotional or merely sentimental? Did he use his extraordinary powers wholesomely or did he dissipate them? And what really mattered to him? For more on Bernstein go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/dec/19/lenny-bernstein-letters/  For more on conducting in general go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conducting

WAGNER'S MUSIC, ANTI-SEMITISM AND ISRAEL

Perhaps no other composer in history sought to combine such obviously incompatible elements in his works. The qualities that make Richard Wagner’s supporters so enthusiastic are often the same ones that repel his opponents, such as his tendency toward extremes in every aspect of composition. Although he stretched the limits of harmony and operatic form to the breaking point, the realization of his musical concepts always remained exceedingly economical. Paradoxically, this very economy defines the incomparable dimension of his structures. Perhaps he found it necessary to make especially frugal use of certain individual elements in order to make the effect of the Gesamtkunstwerk—the total work of art—even greater and more unexpected. For more on this complex subject of interest to some readers here go to an article by Daniel Barenboim "Wagner and the Jews" in The New York Review of Books, 20 June, 2013:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/20/wagner-and-jews/?page=1

CLASSICAL MUSIC AND BIOGRAPHY

Part 1:

BEETHOVEN

It is always interesting and sometimes even important to have intimate knowledge of a composer’s life, but it is not essential in order to understand the composer’s works. In Beethoven’s case, one mustn’t forget that in 1802, the year he was contemplating suicide—as he wrote in an unsent letter to his brothers that came to be known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament”—he also composed the Second Symphony, one of his works that was most positive in spirit, thus showing us that it is of vital importance to separate his music from his personal biography and not to conflate the two.

These words in this part of my website come from Daniel Barenboim(1942-), the Israeli Argentine-born pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings. Currently, he is general music director of La Scala in Milan, the Berlin State Opera, and the Staatskapelle Berlin; he previously served as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris. Barenboim is also known for his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a Seville-based orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians, and as a resolute critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.


In his essay in The New York Review of Books, April 2013, Barenboim does not provide an elaborate psychological study of the person of Beethoven through an analysis of his works, or vice versa. The focus of his essay is Beethoven’s music. "It must be understood," writes Barenboim, "that one cannot explain the nature or the message of music through words. Music means different things to different people and sometimes even different things to the same person at different moments of his life. It might be poetic, philosophical, sensual, or mathematical, but in any case it must, in my view, have something to do with the soul of the human being." Barenboim says that music is metaphysical, but the means of expression are purely and exclusively physical: sound. "I believe it is precisely this permanent coexistence of metaphysical message through physical means," says Barenboim, "that is the strength of music. It is also the reason why when we try to describe music with words, all we can do is articulate our reactions to it, and not grasp music itself." For more on this subject go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/04/beethoven-and-quality-courage/

Part 2:

MAHLER

Back in August 2000 in The London Review of Books(Vol. 22 No. 16 · 24 August 2000), Alex Ross reviewed Gustav Mahler. Vol. III. Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion (1904 to 1907) by Henry-Louis de La Grange(Oxford, 1024 pages, 1999); and The Mahler Companion edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson(Oxford, 650 pages, 1999). The review begins: ‘In thirty or forty years,’ Gustav Mahler is said to have said, ‘Beethoven’s symphonies will no longer be played in concerts. My symphonies will take their place.’ The line comes from a dubious source – an ageing critic – but it is not out of character.

Mahler, the most generous of megalomaniacs, often prophesied great things for his music, and, to judge from the programmes of recent seasons, his roll-over-Beethoven fantasy is coming true. The Mahler symphonies now occupy the dead centre of the repertory. This past season, in New York, Carnegie Hall put on the Ninth on a Sunday, the Third the following Thursday, and, about a week later, on successive evenings, Das Lied von der Erde and the First. One loud night in February, the Second and Fourth were done simultaneously, at Carnegie and at the Philharmonic. The Fifth, the Sixth, the Seventh, the Eighth, and part of the Tenth also showed up at various times. The First and the Ninth came back at season’s end, while Thomas Hampson sang the complete Mahler songs. Each of the major works, then, was performed at least once, and it wasn’t even an anniversary year. Beethoven’s little things, by contrast, received, by my count, seven performances – by the Philharmonic and by all orchestras visiting from out of town. For more go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n16/alex-ross/the-biggest-rockets

Part 3:

MOZART

The literature on Mozart is almost as diverse, though surely not quite so glorious, as Mozart’s own output. These three books below are a case in point: a freewheeling analysis of Mozart the opera composer in the Enlightenment, a thoroughly documented survey of Mozart’s last year, and a technical study of Mozart’s manuscripts. Together, they give us a sense that we are closing in on the real Mozart, stripping away as they do myth after myth and replacing impressionistic conjectures by precise information. It is good news, if hardly astonishing, that Mozart’s stature is in no way diminished by such microscopic examination. For Peter Gay's review in 1988 in the London Review of Books of: (a) Mozart the Dramatist: The Value of his Operas to Him, to his Age and to Us by Brigid Brophy(Libris, 300 pages, 1988); (b) 1791: Mozart’s Last Year by H.C. Robbins Landon(Thames and Hudson, 250 pages, 1988), and (c) Mozart: Studies of the Autograph Scores by Alan Tyson(Harvard, 400 pages, 1988), go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v10/n13/peter-gay/recognising-mozart

In July 2007, in the London Review of Books, Sheila Fitzpatrick wrote a review of three more books about Mozart: (i) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography by Piero Melograni(300 pages, 2006); (ii) Mozart: The First Biography by Franz Niemetschek(100 pages, 2006; and (iii) Mozart’s Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music by Jane Glover(400 pages, 2006). The review begins as follows:

"As Saul Bellow once wrote, we have a problem talking about Mozart. It is the fear of having to contemplate transcendence and being embarrassed by something for which we have no vocabulary. To make matters worse, Mozart composed sublime music but, in contrast to Beethoven, had the wrong personality for sublimity, being prone to clowning and lavatory humour. Think of the babyish and buffoonish Amadeus of Peter Shaffer’s play. Or the impetuous, tousle-haired and disconcertingly North American figure in the Milos Forman film, stalked through the Vienna night by Antonio Salieri to the sound of the Dies irae from the Requiem. Franz Niemetschek, Mozart’s contemporary, whose biography (not the first, pace Berghahn, but the second) was published in 1798, concedes Mozart’s propensity for jokes but presents him as a gentle soul who, as Cliff Eisen remarks in his introduction, is almost a candidate for sainthood. ‘Who can unravel all the countless felicities, the fathomless beauties of his art?’ Niemetschek asks: ‘Who can describe in words his new, original, sublime and sonorous music. Listen with an open mind, and you will feel this more keenly than can be expressed in words.’" For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n13/sheila-fitzpatrick/obscene-child

MUSICAL COMPOSITION

John Corigliano, an American composer of classical music, a teacher of music, and a distinguished professor of music at Lehman College in the City University of New York, once wrote that a composer setting out to write a new piece should have “something terribly important to say” —something so important that the music will not be used as background noise, the fate of much music today. The act of composing is a difficult, frustrating process. With few exceptions, this is the message from composers. Although they find the going rough, their greatest satisfaction is in the final product. There is nothing else they prefer doing, and nothing else is like the mystery of the process to these creators of  There is much mystery in the process of inspiration. The muse sings for them only by dint of incessant, tedious work, as they remain ever alert to new ideas.  I find this to be true, in part, in the process of writing, creative writing.  Yes, there is a tedious element, but there is much else that is far from tedious. -Ron Price with thanks to Ann McCutchan, The Muse That Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process, Oxford University Press, NY, 1999.


MORE CLASSICAL MUSIC INCLUSIONS

A. BENJAMIN BRITTEN: His War Requiem

Section 1:

Benjamin Britten(1913-1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed prodigious talent from an early age, composing Quatre Chansons françaises for soprano and orchestra at the age of fourteen.  He first came to public attention with a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945 he entered international fame and, for the next fifteen years, he devoted much of his compositional attention to writing operas, several of which now appear regularly on international stages. Britten's interests as a composer were wide-ranging. He produced important music in such varied genres as: orchestral, choral, chamber, instrumental, solo vocal--much of it written for the tenor Peter Pears--as well as film music. He also took a great interest in writing music for child and amateur performers.

Three months before my pioneering-travelling life for the Canadian Baha’i community began at the age of 18 in August 1962, Britten’s War Requiem Opus 66 was premiered for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral on 30 May 1962.  That Cathedral, a 14th century structure, had been destroyed in 1940 in the bombing of WW2. Nine poems of Wilfred Owen, the famed English war poet, were interwoven by tenor and baritone voices into the orchestration.-Ron Price, with thanks to “War Requiem,” in Wikipedia, 22 July 2010.

Section 2:

I knew nothing of you, Benjamin, back then
in ’62 when I was 18 and just trying to get a
high enough mark to become a uni student
and the only youth in another of the Baha’i
communities in which I spent my long life.

Your War Requiem could have been….with
those poems of Wilfred Owen..a very fitting
note for the years and the battles ahead for 
me in my war.....no guns, swords, uniforms
in mine, in a third world war which, as Henry
Miller once wrote would be more destructive
than either of the first two, the ones my father
and grandfather had to fight in the first half of
the 20th century….(1)

(1) The American writer Henry Miller wrote in 1941 that:

“When the destruction brought about by the Second World War is complete another kind of destruction will set in. And it will be far more drastic, far more terrible than the destruction which we are now witnessing. The whole planet will be in the throes of revolution. And the fires will rage until the very foundations of the present world crumble.”-See The Phoenix and the Ashes, Geoffrey Nash, George Ronald, Oxford, 1984, p.55.

Ron Price
22 July 2010



MORE ON BENJAMIN BRITTEN

“Who is BEN-jam-in BRI-ttenBEN-jam-in BRI-tten?” sang the satirical English duo Flanders and Swann in 1953, setting the composer’s name to a plausibly Brittenesque 5/4 rhythm. Britten himself was turning forty and the country was recognizing, sometimes reluctantly, the scale of his success. The young man who had amazed postwar London with the opera Peter Grimes was now a household name—well known enough for Flanders and Swann’s mainstream audience to get jokes about him. For the Queen’s coronation, he had been commissioned to write an opera (Gloriana, which flopped spectacularly), and the Queen had made him a Companion of Honour. To read a review of Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century by Paul Kildea; 
Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913–1976: Volume Six, 1966–1976
edited by Philip Reed and Mervyn Cooke, and Britten’s Unquiet Pasts: Sound and Memory in Postwar Reconstruction by Heather Wiebe go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/aug/15/battle-britten/

B. CHOPIN

CREATING A NARRATIVE MOOD

Part 1:

Chopin(1810-1849) composed in obedience to inner promptings, dictated by his own musical instincts and tastes, feelings and predispositions. Chopin’s techniques and methods, his epic compositional modus operandi, his creative processes were explored this afternoon in an ABC1 TV program The Art of Chopin.(1)  His first composition came in 1817, the year of the birth of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, a world religion I have been associated with now for nearly 60 years.

Chopin infused new ideas into known forms. The Ballade, for example, which had formerly been a vocalized poem,  he cast into an instrumental mold. Back on 15 February 2006, more than six years ago now, I was listening to Chopin’s Ballade in G Minor Op. 23, and I wrote the following:  “This ballade’s opening phrase creates a narrative mood, a mood which is forever changing and a mood which the Polish-born pianist Arthur Rubenstein defined as epic grandiosity in 1959.”(2) Perhaps this narrative mood was responsible, in part at least, for the creation of my narrative prose-poem here.

Part 2:

Written at some time in the years 1831 to 1835, this Ballade may have had its origins in a particular aspect of the world of the spirit.  Perhaps Chopin was moved by elements in a musical ether or a romantic-erotic ether.  At the time he had fallen in love with a 17 year old girl, Maria Wodziska.  Chopin’s star of fame was also rising high in the early 1830s. During my Year of Patience, October/November 1973 to October/November 1974 I had fallen in love or, perhaps more accurately, overcome my loneliness with two teen-age girls and two women in their twenties. In December 1974 I began my Year of Patience all-over-again, and in December 1975 I married one of those two girls/women in their twenties. For an excellent analysis and commentary on the Baha'i Year of Patience go to this link:http://yearofpatience.wordpress.com/

Perhaps some virtue of an artistic grace was exercising an influence on his soul.  The American existential psychologist Rollo May(1909-1994) states in his book Love and Will(1969) that the artist, the creative person, is often predictive of coming changes by at least a generation.  An approaching narrative was to be played on another part of history’s stage, in Iran’s religious history within the Shaykhi school of the Ithna-Ashariyyih sect of Shi’a Islam. This is a serendipitous connection, or perhaps just a long-bow I have drawn, invoking a synchronicity of events that have personal meaning.  I’m sure others here will find this connection curious, indeed, mystifying.  Such is the nature of much modern poetry and poets.

The episode of the narrative I am thinking of was one in which Siyyid  Kazim, the then leader of the Shaykhi community within Shi’ah Islam met the Bab in the city of Karbila.  In a chamber bedecked by flowers and redolent of the loveliest perfume, the Bab gave him a pure beveridge which Siyyid Kazim, we are told, drank from a silver cup.(3)  The last stages of the preface, the prelude, to the narrative of explosive and revolutionary Babi and Baha’i history were being enacted in the dozen years 1831 to 1843. –Ron Price with thanks to:(1) “The Art of Chopin,”  ABC1TV, 3:55 to 4:50 p.m., 16 September 2012; (2)“Internet Sites on Chopin and Chopin’s Ballades,” Pioneering Over Four Epochs, February 15th 2006; and (3) Muhammad-i-Zarandi, The Dawnbreakers: Nabil’s Narrative, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1974(1932), p.26.

This narrative mood set upon me
for many a year in obedience to
inner promptings, dictated by my
literary and experiential instincts,
tastes, feelings & predispositions
as they chanced, changed, flowed
with an epic grandiosity; perhaps
Arthur Rubenstein and others had
set the stage back in ’59, & totally
…..unbeknownst to me then--now.

Perhaps mysterious dispensations
of a watchful Providence scattered
abroad fragrances uttered in other
places and exercised a series of
influences on my soul as I played
baseball, hockey, football, studied
grade ten subjects, and fell in love
with a girl near where I lived, and
half a dozen other girls in my life,
my adolescent years in the 1950s
before the world exploded with its
rock-‘n-roll, trips to outer space, &
those immense tempests of the 60s.

(1) Arthur Rubenstein was the first to record Chopin in stereo in 1959.  He interpreted Chopin in the context of an epic grandiosity so writes Mark Jordan in “Burkard Schliessmann---Chopin: Ballades,” in an SACD review at High Fidelity Review.com on 9/03/’04.

Ron Price
February 15th 2006 and
Updated on:18/9/’12

DYLAN: 1962 TO 2015

Part 1:

Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, has done some considerable digging to write his book, Bob Dylan in America.(1) He has constructed a system of underground tunnels connecting Dylan’s music---his thirty-four studio albums alone, from 1962’s self-titled debut to his 2010 characteristically odd Christmas in the Heart---to a vast range of movements & individuals in American history & culture. Something of Wilentz’s method is suggested by his epigraph which is taken from Walt Whitman’s “When I Read the Book”.......Only a few hints—a few diffused, faint clues and indirections…”  Wilentz sees Dylan’s work as a constellation of hints and clues, and he follows-up on them with an obsessive meticulousness.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Giles Harvey, “Bob Dylan After the Fall,” New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010.

You first heard that Anthology in 1959(1)
when you were a college dropout and
loitering in the coffee houses around the
University of Minnesota and I had joined
the Baha’i Faith up in Ontario. That was
your first true map of a republic that was
still a hunch. You would not leave it as you
found it and you grew more frustrated with
what you came to see as pious sloganeering
& doctrinaire leftist politics of the folk milieu.

You began writing a kind of visionary nonsense
verse, in which a rough, ribald, lawless America
of the country’s traditional folk music collided
with a surreal ensemble of historical characters
from the Bible, literature, legend and many other
places besides over the next few wild decades.

Those 60s songs were less a place of identifiable
historical record than a superabundant nightmare
from which you were trying, without much success,
to awake.  At moments, to be sure, the contours of
your rancorous social comment seemed to appear
within a rich tapestry of surreal lyrics, & overriding
mood: a combination of dread and confinement.....

There is also a certain nihilistic glee. Your career,
began with a motorcycle accident on 29 July 1966
as I was selling ice-cream and getting ready to go
to teachers’ college...My own lows were matched
by your eloquent bitterness......you were trapped
inside the aspic of your own sixties legend and I
moved on from Baffin Island to far-off Tasmania.(2)

(1) Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952), the legendary three double-LP compilation of old-time vernacular songs that in the late fifties and early sixties served as the cornerstone of the folk music revival.
(2) Giles Harvey, “Bob Dylan After the Fall,” New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010.


Part 2:

The following two books were reviewed in The New York Reivew of Books(19/2/'15): (i) Dylan’s Never Ending Tour(at the Beacon Theatre, New York City, December 1–6, 2014) and (ii) The Lyrics: Bob Dylan edited by Christopher Ricks, Lisa Nemrow, and Julie Nemrow(Simon and Schuster, 960 pages, 2014). Bob Dylan's recent concerts have been scattershot affairs. Many nights are sublime, but on others he appears to be phoning it in, growling his way through old hits and leaving most everyone but hardcore fans struggling to figure out even the title of the song.
It's anyone's guess what changed over the past few months, but at the final performance of his five-night stand at New York's Beacon Theatre – his amazing 91st show of the year – Dylan sounded magnificent. He was expressive, clear, articulate, intensely focused and visibly pleased. Without a doubt, it was the most enjoyable Dylan concert in recent memory. For more go to: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/live-reviews/bob-dylan-closes-2014-tour-with-masterful-beacon-theatre-gig-20141204

SOME OF THE "flotsam and jetsam"
IN MY COLLECTIONS OF LETTERS, NOTEBOOKS, INTER ALIA

Part 1:

Many of the more famous jazz musicians have “dossiers,” that is, they have collections of their memorabilia. The following article reminded me of the possible dossiers of the greats in the jazz world in the last century. Readers might like to start at this cyberspace link to begin their research or just google the words "Jazz dossiers." http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/archive/index.php/t-11463.html  -Ron Price, Tasmania

This evening I came across the following article: "Joseph Cornell/Marcel Duchamp: In Resonance---The Duchamp Dossier."  I found the article in an electronic journal on the internet.  The journal was called Other Voices, the issue was September 1998.   The "dossier" was on display as part of The Menil Collection in Houston Texas USA from January 22 to May 16, 1999.  These were the last days of my full-time employment as a teacher after 30 years in the profession. In June 1999 my wife and I headed from Western Australia to Tasmania where I took a sea-change and an early retirement at the age of 55.  These were the last months before I began to organize my own "dossier" after 50 years activity: (a) as a student, (b) as a teacher-lecturer, and (c) as part of the teaching and consolidation activity in the Bahá’í community across two continents—Canada and Australia.  Since the "dossier" discussed in Other Voices had similarities to my own massive poetic and non-poetic dossier, opus, oeuvre----or at least to some of the material in my collection of letters and notebooks---I drew on that article to write the following brief 1000 word post in cyberspace:

Part 2:

The expatriate Frenchman Marcel Duchamp met the American artist Joseph Cornell in New York in the early 1930s. In the early 1940s Duchamp engaged Cornell to assist him in assembling the deluxe editions of Duchamp's new project, the miniature "museum" of his work, commonly referred to as the Boîte-en-valise. At this time Cornell also began to formally assemble his Duchamp Dossier, a work that contains 118 items ranging from Mona Lisa postcards, dry-cleaning receipts, and correspondence, to Boîte-en-valise fragments, readymades, and a study by Duchamp for his Allégorie de Genre. Cornell's Duchamp Dossier thus provides a particularly rich source of insight into both artists' creative lives during several crucial decades.

I'm not sure what would be put in, say, a miniature dossier, a special collection, a set of memorabilia that might stand out quite separately from the general run-of-the-mill of the resources and materials in my literary files. I would leave that to some executor, some collector, some archivist, etc. if such a collection was desired. I would not even entertain the idea were it not for the significance of the embryonic Bahá’í Order, now in the beginnings of the third century of its evolution, an Order that: (i) had its embryonic beginnings, arguably, as far-back at the late 18th century, and (ii) an Order I have been associated with for some 60 years.  I write this in anticipation that there may just be some significance in all my paper, my memorabilia and electronic back-up files.  It’s a significance I can scarcely appreciate at this early hour in the historical process, the development of a global, a planetizing, society with a future unbelievably glorious and one associated intimately with this latest of the Abrahamic religions.

The Duchamp Dossier (c. 1942-53) was discovered in Cornell's studio shortly after Duchamp's death in 1972. Unlike many of his other dossiers, this one was never shown publicly and remained unpublished in Cornell's lifetime.  Cornell compiled most of the material for the Dossier during the years 1942 to 1946, the years when my parents first met and the first two years of my life. The dossier also includes some items from the 1930s and 1950s, the decade before my parents first met and the decade during which I joined the Baha'i Faith.  By the time the dossier was discovered I was teaching high school in South Australia and I was in my late 20s.

Part 3:

Were my collection---compiled at various times in my pioneer life, 1962 to 2013, a half century that seems to have gone by swifter than the twinkling of an eye---to be discovered and gathered into a separate place, a special dossier, it might possess: lists of articles and internet sites, parking tickets; domestic notes from my wife and son, to do lists, advice pieces from: my wife to me, to my son and me to them; instructions on how to do a, b or c; Bahá’í agendas, newspaper clippings from friends---and on and on this itemized pot pourri might go.

Many items in the Dossier document discussed in this article included: Duchamp's written requests for more Boxes and an improvised receipt based on the cover of a Long Island Railroad conductor's booklet.  Individual elements of Duchamp's Box-in-Valise, the reproductions of his early paintings, for example, can also be found in this Duchamp Dossier. Cornell was an avid correspondent and the Dossier derives much of its flavor from the postal system: stamps, telegrams and postcards, for example. We find several communications from Duchamp, a note from the art dealer Julien Levy, and remnants of envelopes bearing intriguing return addresses such as that of the artist Piet Mondrian. A group of nine letters from Mary Reynolds, Duchamp's longtime companion, reveals her own close friendship with Cornell and her delight in the works of art that Cornell sold and gave to her. With typical brevity, Duchamp relied on a postcard to inform Cornell of his imminent departure from New York at the end of the war: "Au revoir / affecteusement / Marcel." 

Part 4:

I, too, have my postal items, communications to an odd-assortment of people and brief responses from me to a wide collection of individuals. It’s an assortment that goes back, as I indicated above, more than half a century. Whether, of course, anyone takes a serious interest in it, only time will tell and, by then if such an interest does arise, I will be in the land of those who speak no more, far beyond the last syllable of my recorded time to put it in the Shakespearean vernacular.

The above short amended and revised article, drawing heavily as it does on the article in Other Voices, conveys a context for the substance of some of the flotsam and jetsam of the paper in my study here in northern Tasmania, and the electronic world I inhabit so much of the time in these years of my retitement from being jobbed.  I leave it to some future person and future time to give whatever order, whatever place, it deserves, if any.

Ron Price
31 October 2006
Updated on: 4/10/’12 and 15/11/'12


A WORD OR TWO ABOUT JAZZ: CHARLIE PARKER

Three new books on Charlie Parker came out in 2013: (i) Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker by Gary Giddins(Minnesota, 200 pages, 2013); (ii) Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch, (Harper, 350 pages, 2013), and (iii) Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker by Chuck Haddix, (Illinois, 2013, 200 pages). The following is from that review: "Charlie Parker was one of the first deepwater jazz players to seize the public imagination. It may have taken a fateful early death in 1955 to settle his portion of true infamy, but mythic status was then assured. A plump, sharp-taloned Icarus in after-hours mufti, he was already the subject of a votive cult among bebop obsessives. Soon after his blurry end, aged 34, a fond graffito rose and sprouted all over New York: Bird Lives! Parker’s sad extinction released myriad afterlives: musical colossus, modernist exemplar, contested emblem of racial politics, finally even the recipient of the paste crown of a posthumous Hollywood biopic. Parker’s flinty, recondite music slowly shades into the background; he becomes better known for a ruinous pile-it-high lifestyle, for being the only addict pre-Fassbinder to get fatter, not thinner, as his habit deepens; for plunging into late decrepitude only to die in the lap of luxury, in a high-society eyrie belonging to the Rothschild child and ‘Jazz Baroness’, Pannonica de Koenigswarter.‚Äč" For more of this review in the London Review of Books in January 2014 at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n02/ian-penman/birditis

A MIND LIVELY AND AT EASE

It is said that an artist’s work is the sum total of his experience. The artist does not create from a tabula rasa, but from a rich menu of specific and unspecific experience, grey and vague and highly and variously coloured. The artist drafts his own destiny as he drafts his music, his art, his sculpture or his poetry, at least in part.  And he is never sure, as Stephen Spender puts it, however confident he may be, whether he has misdirected his energy, or whether his poetry is insignificant and irrelevant or great and important.  Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE(1909 -1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. He was appointed the seventeenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress in 1965-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 8 August 2000.

A mind lively and at ease
is a gift of fortune
and gives meaning and value
to perceived experience,(1)
to the deep and rich
satisfaction of my own writing
and to the slow charting of the
progress toward our destiny.

The unperturbed mind
is quickest and can deal
with the vanity of vanities, life,
which we must both accept and
reject, which pierces us with its
nonsense and its strange relations.                                               

(1) Jane Austen, Emma.

Ron Price
8 August 2000 to 15/11/'12


CELESTIAL HARMONY: A NEW ORPHEUS

Poetry was always meant to be an instrument of immense power with a scarcely foreseeable, but wholly positive, future.  It is due to this ‘scarcely foreseeable future’ of poetry that Elizabeth Sewell alludes to, that seems to limit the role of poetry in modern philosophy. 
Elizabeth Sewell(1815–1906) was an English author of religious and educational texts notable in the 19th century. For more on this English author click on this line.

Terpsichore was one of the nine muses of music, song and dance. In late classical times--when the Muses were assigned specific literary and artistic spheres--Terpsikhore was named Muse of choral song and dancing, and represented with a plectrum and lyre. -Elizabeth Sewell, The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History, Yale UP, New Haven, 1960, p.51.

A new Orpheus has come with golden touch
to soften steel and find the mystic bone,
to tame the tiger, uncover mysterious stone,
create new leviathan, to dance on sand,
to draw all things to Him, especially man.

This new Orpheus Who sings for all
to science, philosophy and poetry,
He has come and issued His clear call,
having been raised up by some
Most Great Spirit descended,
personated by a Maiden and I
have heard this Orpheus’ call.

It is this call that makes me yearn
toward a philosophic song and
cherish those times when time is reborn,
when a certain luminosity, deep coolness,
takes me back to myself, turning the visible
into the invisible and some inner breath.

This wondrous Orpheus of this new age
urges a harmony of science and poetry.
Dear Wordsworth did in his The Prelude
strike this harmonic chord and describe
an organic growth, its unity, timelessness
and ours in the exquisite chamber,
the deep recesses of my heart,
the seat of the revelation of
the inner mysteries of Vision,
of God, of Mystery, Celestial
Harmony: it is here that we must
free ourselves of the shadowy and
ephemeral attachments and so to.....

.... hear the piercing sweetness of
music unloosed when we each free
ourselves of love and hate, detach
and renounce and free our tongues
from excess or idle speech & imbue
ourselves with such a spirit of search
that Orpheus, like some Mystic Herald
from the City of God, will endow us
with a new heart , a new mind, a new
eye and a new ear and we will gaze
with the eye of God, yes, in that
Celestial Harmony, perchance in
Shelley’s Undiscovered Country.

Ron Price
24 September 1995 to 5/1/'06


CATCHING A  MYSTERY TRAIN

Part 1:

The man who was the single most powerful force behind the worldwide domination of rock ‘n’ roll was Elvis Presley. 
Elvis Aaron Presley(1935-1977) was an American singer and actor. A cultural icon, he is commonly known by the single name Elvis. Some say he invented rock 'n' roll. Yet behind the music, the concerts, and the best of the movies, was a personality as elusive as the entity that Winston Churchill once described as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” namely Russia.  Churchill was a British Conservative politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the past century, he served as Prime Minister twice(1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. He is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.....but to return to Elvis.....

.....much of Elvis’ power was in a personality so varied, contradictory and chameleon-like as to be almost unknowable.  To try to understand Elvis is to hitch a ride on the longest running mystery train in the entertainment business, so writes Paul Simpson.  
Paul Simpson is a musician, vocalist, lyricist and writer from Liverpool, England. His vocal and lyrical styles have been described as "haunting" and "doomed romantic", respectively. Musically, his contributions have crossed the genres of synthpop, post-punk, neo-psychedelia, New Wave and ambient.

If both Churchill and Paul Simpson(1) are right about  this sense of mystery and complexity, then many others in the rock and roll and entertainment business, are even more mysterious and complex.  And for many of us and the movements we have joined and left, joined and stayed and those other commitments like family and gardening there are even more profoundly mysterious and complex stories, as the universal and the particular play in their endless eddies. 

Part 2:

I suppose, we all hitch our rides in life to different mysteries.  The train I got ready to hitch a ride on more than fifty years ago is far more bewildering than all the individuals and nations, far more impenetrable.   It is concealed and enshrouded in the mystic utterances of an inscrutable universe. –Ron Price with thanks to (1)Paul Simpson, “The Elvis Mystery,” Elvis Australia, June 12th 2003 to 15/11/'12.

You began hitting the music trail
back in the fifties and your music
slowly insinuated itself into my
life along with baseball, girls and
a new religion in Canada, then.

You had your first hit on the charts
in Australia in ’59 at the same time(1)
I joined this Movement in Canada. 

You became a vision straight from
Graceland, a transcendental being,
not in a white robe but in a white
jump suit..guitar rather than harp.

But you were not for me. My vision was
always elsewhere both then and now. My
land of grace was not from Graceland.

Your most obvious roots seemed to lie
in Dean Martin and Bing Crosby's '50s.

In those early ‘50s are found the roots
of my life in my mother’s life and in the
corners of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic
tradition where a new Abrahamic Force
was born, came out of Iran and.....went
global to become the 2nd most wide---
spread religion on earth, seductively,
insinuating itself into the very hearts
of the right and left wings of all the
powers of earth...perhaps of heaven.

Your gyrations simultaneously thrilled
teenagers, annoyed adults, and gave
satirists grist for their parody mills.

You became the King of rock ‘n’ roll,
the idiom’s first superstar.   Yet who,
exactly, were your children? Who were
your musical parents? You were a focus,
a pivot, a point of change, a mystery train.

Your train went one way; I caught another;
I've been watching yours all these years!!

1 April to October 1959: A Fool Such As I

Ron Price
January 2nd 2006 to 15/11/'12.


Part 3:

Presley may genuinely not have realised how far gone into addiction he was by the end of the 1960s. This was because, unlike most addicts, he never had to go without. With his very own circle, his team, of tame doctors he never had any kind of crisis with supply & demand. He demanded, they supplied. Elvis’s biggest drug problem was that he had no problem getting drugs. Foremost among his legal drug suppliers was infamous Dr Nick, George C. Nichopoulos. For one ten-day tour in 1977, Nichopoulos secured 682 different pills & tablets for Elvis, plus the dauntingly strong narcotic Dilaudid in liquid form. It was later established in court that in the seven months before Presley’s death the good doctor had prescribed 8805 pills, tablets, vials & injectables. Elvis also had regular supplies coming in from other star-struck doctors. One night, Nichopoulos went with Elvis to the dentist; when the dentist briefly left the room, even Dr Nick could hardly believe his eyes as Elvis began to scrabble around the surgery in a desperate search for codeine. For more on Elvis from a review of two new books of some 700 pages which came out in 2014, go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n18/ian-penman/shapeshifter

MUSICALS

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera & dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals. Nearly all of the musicals I have watched have been on television, although I attended 2 or 3 live performances in Perth Western Australia. They were performed under the direction of a Baha'i friend, Greg Parker, who passed away earlier in 2014.

Fiddler on the Roof opened fifty years ago and had 3,242 performances. It was the longest-running musical in Broadway history. We now have not one but two books about it—Alisa Solomon’s Wonder of Wonders and Barbara Isenberg’s Tradition!  We can anticipate numerous revivals in professional theaters, schools, and summer camps. A reading of the Tevye stories by the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, on which much of the musical is based, was staged last summer, 2014, at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Norman Jewison’s Academy Award–nominated 1971 movie version will soon appear at a number of film festivals.  Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof by Alisa Solomon (Picador,450 pages), and Tradition! The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical by Barbara Isenberg(St. Martin’s, 250 pages) is reviewed in The New York Review of Books(18/12/'14). 
For more on the subject of musicals go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_theatre

For more of MY PROSE-POEMS with music themes go to the following internet sites:

http://forums.bellaonline.com/    
hubpages: Poetry Like Music 
(This internet site, entitled Hub Pages, will give readers access to a range of my prose and poetry--if they click on my name on the right side of the page when they access Hub Pages; readers will then have to scroll down to see the several posts I have placed at this internet site)
MuzicForums.com

I have some 50 pieces, some 50 prose-poems, on musical themes, at this internet site, entitled: MuzicForums.com. To access these poems you click on the above link. You will then be able to read each piece and some of the comments which have come in from readers at this site. For dozens of other prose-poems on the subject of music go to the following link and, then, type the word 'Price' into the 'Search' box.
http://bahai-library.com/author