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Tuning in on a Grand Experimenter5 août 2013
Dr. Debra Jan Bibel
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Lou Harrison, an American maverick composer and instrument builder, was presented more fully in these author's earlier book, Composing a World. Lou Harrison, Musical Wayfarer. This new book is a reworking of that study, with changes in emphasis and some reduction but with additional information. The CD that is enclosed is different than that of the previous book and has newly found and newly recorded excerpts and pieces. Several compositions are thoroughly analyzed structurally. The biographical chapters are largely the same, which give an overview of an extraordinary life. Starting out with interest in percussion and its application to dance, Harrison became enchanted with Asian music of China, Korea, and especially Indonesia. His works soon emulated the feeling and rhythm of such ethnic styles without actually duplication of pitch. Indeed, Harrison spent much time developing different tuning systems, just intonation, and pentatonic scales that only seemed Asian. Throughout his career, he focused on melody and counterpoint. By 1960, he had already created over 200 compositions (some later rejected) that were later adopted and adapted into suites. His friendships included Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Henry Cowell, and Charles Ives. With his partner William Covig, Harrison created metallophone gamelans out of junk: cut gas cylinders, brake drums, garbage cans, and so forth, all tuned precisely to experimental scales. [Actual Indonesian gamelans are all different, each set of instruments tuned to a local standard and are not interchangeable with other gamelan sets.] The final chapter concerns Harrison's liberal political and social activism through lectures, essays, and compositions. The appendix includes a selected list of works, the complete listing being in the earlier book. The CD itself provides a good sampling of Harrison's styles from his periods and includes spoken comments by William Colvig on building the American Gamelan, a tuning demonstration of the San Jose State University gamelan, and an excerpt of a Harrison lecture. The detail musicological analysis may be appreciated fully only by composers and composition students, but it does demonstrate the complexities and uniqueness of his musical art. I personally enjoyed reading about his life experiences, the evolution of his styles and musical forms that include solo pieces, concerti, dance works, choral suites, and symphonies. Lou Harrison has a special niche in American classical music. His sound is enjoyed by everyone, as its rhythm structures and melodies are appealing. The world music interactions with Western classical traditions is particularly interesting. Still, most people do not know his name. This book will be useful in music appreciation courses.