17 July 2009

Fourths, Mr Jefferson, & the Irony of Opening Acts

At NewMusic box, Dan Visconti waxes wroth at theoretical harmonic confinement:
The striking quartal harmonies explored by 20th-century composers such as Bartók and Debussy were by no means new sounds by any reasonable definition. Among many other predecessors, we find that quartal chord formations abound in the works of J.S. Bach and so-called common practice tertian harmony; but in this situation we rarely choose to recognize them as such. By labeling a quartal formation as a suspension, we are literally stating that it should be another chord—we actually have the gall to deny that sound its integrity outside of a narrowly-defined relationship to an accepted triadic harmony.
Galling is perhaps a bit visceral; but the fellow has a good point.

Word comes in of the upcoming season for the UVa orchestra, now styled the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra (the change must have been effected long since, but in the days when I was pursuing my Master’s, it went by an unwieldy name, something not far from The Charlottesville and Albemarle County University and Community Symphony Orchestra)

At any rate, I note with pleasure that Judith Shatin has a premiere on the board: Jefferson, In His Own Words.

And if in the opening concert of the season, there is perhaps a hint of irony in an Italian program (Ciao, Bella!) whose major work is a symphony by Mendelssohn, well . . . .

From the Department of Essentially Useless Knowledge comes an alert that, 42 years ago today, the Jimi Hendrix Experience (for the last occasion of the tour) opened for . . . The Monkees. On that page, the following quote from Peter Torke about Jimi Hendrix:
Nobody thought, ‘This is screaming, scaring-the-balls-off-your-daddy music compared with the Monkees,’ you know? It didn't cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly. And there’s poor Jimi, and the kids go, ‘We want the Monkees, we want the Monkees.’ . . . We went early to the show and listened to what this man could do because he really was a world-class musician.
A bit further down the page there is a set-list for a Salt Lake City date; it cannot have been every day even in 1967 that you could hear the Bach Two-Part Invention in F Major (BWV 779) followed up with “Last Train to Clarksville.”

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