By Michael Alec Rose
Author and composer Michael Alec Rose is helping readers decode the indicators composers provide us of their music—sounds that invoke very specific ideas, photographs, and cultural contexts—and unearths the intense ingenuity with which convinced items installation recognizable figures in a musical landscape. None of this is performed systematically. each one art reinvents "the code" and calls for a special set of approaches. But the chapters during this invigorating book spring from an identical musical floor, the place the one factor that concerns is to concentrate on the wonders of serious music.
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Extra info for Audible Signs: Essays from a Musical Ground
Consider again the beginning of the Ninth’s finale: the strange roll call of previous movements, brought to muster by the barking recitativo of cellos and basses. All that foregoing labor — three-quarters of an hour of strenuous music, Allegro, Scherzo, and Adagio — is now weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Three movements’ worth of instrumental “singing” is summarily dismissed as insufficient to the work at hand: the work of breaking through to joy. Unsuccessful (to himself, at least) as a stage dramatist, Beethoven makes his instrumental music into compensatory acts of dramatic immediacy (and immoderacy).
What we do have is an ongoing chutzpah to try to use the first to understand the second — with little success, but stubborn persistence. Our book of Job famously acknowledges the impossibility of art — in Job’s case, the persistent praise of God — either to forestall or redress human catastrophe. That’s what makes it a great work of art. Steven Spielberg could have usefully pondered this paradox. The following critique of his celebrated film has two purposes. It is meant to invite those who have seen it to go back and look again, and to encourage first-time viewers to go straight to it and make up their own minds.
It’s a question of musical roots. When Paul breaks out into those shattering shouts, he approaches very close to the vocal magic of Chuck Berry, or Little Richard, or (closest of all) James Brown. These are the men who rocked his world at the start of his journey, turning his little Liverpudlian music puddle into a sea of possible musical relations. The sound of a great, wailing African-American rhythm ’n’ blues voice came to express something very specific to both Paul and John throughout their Beatles oeuvre.