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May 03, 1959 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-05-03
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--

t

Not Flourishing, Not Declining

-r
Challenge of Electronic N
IN MUMMA
ost significant and New Concepts May Shape the Course

(Continued from Preceding Page) modified form, I believe, hindered

is basically a conservative one.
"What sort of reviews did it get?"
is a fairly familiar question. The
local audience is tied to and de-
pendent on the New York critics,
which automatically kills the
chance of an experimental theatre..
Second, the repertory situation
is a tricky one. Bernard Shaw
points out the difficulties of rep-
ertory companies in the Preface to
the collection of his Letters and
the Letters of Ellen Terry.
Audiences tire very quickly of
the same people, and actors just
as quickly. tire of the forced close
contact, and the same predictable
audiences that the repertory situ-
ation brings. Too often it's actors
playing for an audience that they
cannot stand, who in turn, through
overexposure, cannot stand them
This, although in a much subtler,'

the Dramatic Arts Center, al-
though more of that later.
THE THIRD PROBLEM is the
problem of a place to play.
Where in Ann Arbor would you
put a repertory company? And
this is very important. The kind-
est thing that happened to the
Masonic Auditorium is that Ben-
dix took it over and put it out of
its misery. Out front was dingy
enough, but there ought to be a
law about that backstage area,
which was a not-so-glorified pig
sty.
The old Arts Theatre, and there
was a theatre, managed to mini-
mize the faults of a makeshift
stage, but no matter how cleverly
they did this, the effect was still
one of apology for what they had
to work with. I don't believe the
Arts Theatre need have folded. It

was a good company. For one
thing, with a commercial spring
season, and a group playing a ba-
sically classical repertoire, and a
local group to play popular shows,
it filled in the gap and did the
truly off beat good stuff, such as
Pirandello and Obey.
These plays were staged so in-
ventively that no matter whether
you liked or hated the presenta-
tion, you left the place with the
feeling that you had seen a show
that was the work of artists.
BUT THE Arts Theatre had its
problems too.
Their financial management,
certainly at the end, was folly in-
carnate, and at least one of the
season ticket setups they chose is
enough to make a body throw up
his hands in bemused horror.
However, they had a purpose and

By GORDOI
THE TWO m

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Dramatic Arts Center either duplicated the type of production
given by the other two groups, or presented unspectacular revivals
and deservedly unknown shows. Picture is from the 1955 DAC pro-
duction of Jean Paul Sarte's "No Exit."

fruitfui trends in 2Uth Century
music are the development of
serial techniques, and, more re-
cently, the exploration of timbre.
The lay-public is familiar with
"serial music" by the notorious
title of "12 tone music." Actually,
"12 tone music" is an early and
now rather crude concept. The
exploration of timbre began
shortly after the First World War
with the music of Edgar Varese
and John -Cage. It was not until
after the Second World War and
the development of good electronic
audio equipment that composers
found it possible to consider tim-
bre as an element of musical im-
portance.
The development of serial musi-
cal order has its roots in the de-
cline of tonal music- (i.e., music
which is, roughly, in a definite key
and which relies upon tonal reso-
lution as the major factor in its
dramatic organization).
Wagner's "Prelude to Tristan
and Isolde" demonstrated that the,
logic and dramatic form of music
are not dependent upon tonal
resolution. Although the harmonic
structure ' of the Tristan Prelude
depends upon implications of tonal
resolution, these implications are
extremely vague. The predomi-
Gordon MuNma studied
composition with Homer Kell-
er, Ross Lee Finney and Leslie
Bassett. During the past eight
months he has been working
working with University art
instructor Milton Cohen in the
coordination of light and
sound. Four of his own elec-
tronic compositions were per-
formed in New York last
March.

of Composing for the Next 200

serv6d a need. A genuine theatre
of protest is always a good thing.
I must confess, I never saw the
need for the Arts Theatre's suc-
cessor, the Dramatic Arts Center
(horrid name!). The plays pre-
sented were either respectable
Broadway hits of the type done by
two other local groups, unspec-
tacular revivals, or unknown
shows that had achieved that
status deservedly. It is a mystery
to me why any group whose suc-
cess was not insured and whose
financial status was equally un-
certain, would pick "Captain Car-
vallo," which just a few years
previously Katharine Cornell and
an all star cast had triumphantly
toured from Detroit to Cleveland,
there expiring languidly, not be-
cause the show was radical or in-
tellectual and people were not
ready for it, but rather because
it was one of the most crushing

bores that was ever inflicted on
the easily impressionable Midwest.
And the same season, to ring in
"The Inheritors," a mush-mouthed
version of "The Male Animal,"
seems peculiar also, as does the
presence of "The Country Girl,"
which had in the previous few
seasons been done by both of the
other theatre groups in town.
THE ACTING style this group
chose to effect had a dreary
sameness, no doubt designed to
suggest "reality," a problem more
akin to psychology than enter-
tainment.
Consequently the high points
were in the razz-ma-tazz per.
formance . of . Margaret Banner-
mann and Katherine Sergava,
both of whom managed by sheer
dint of personality to inject some
(Concluded on Page 10)

nant musical order of the Tristan'
Prelude is contained in its melodic
gestures and in the timbre con-
trasts of its sound texture.
THE FIRST significant musical
development after the Tristan
Prelude is serial order. This oc-
curred with the work of Arnold
Schonberg. The impact of Schon-
berg's concepts and personality
has been enormous. The signifi-
cance of his musical output is not
as great.-
Most of Schonberg's music suf-
fers from a basic contradiction.
The implications of his crudely
serial "12 tone" order belong in an
atonal context. But the traditional
forms of western music which
Schonberg also uses are an out-
growth of tonal orientation. In
the context of atonal orientation
the use of traditional musical
forms is irrelevant and absurd.
Schonberg's best compositions
are the "String Trio" and "Violin-
Piano Phantasy." With these late
works he had slowly come to
realize that he must find new
dramatic forms for his serial mu-
sical development. -
SERIAL ORDER is difficult to
explain. Initially, the "12 tone
technique," according to Schon-
berg, was a .means of establishing
an order of equal relations be-
tween the 12 chromatic notes of
the octave. This order he called
the "row."
Schonberg's use of the row
strictly determined the appear-
ance of note pitches. No single

Years

note was repeated until all of the
other eleven were sounded.
Schonberg allowed for impor-
tant expansions on the order -of
this row: he used it in its retro-
grade, inversion, and retrograde
inversion forms. He also made use
of transpositions of the row onto
other pitch levels. In his later

works he developed permutation
on the order of note appearances
It is in the concept of permutation
that the more sophisticated recen
developments in serial order occur
Alban ,Berg was even more help
lessly restricted by tonal orien
tation than Schonberg. Berg's suc
cess is due, for the most part, t
his opera "Wozzeck." Wozzeck
hcwever, is a rather conventiona
Sturm und Drang drama. Like a
of Berg's music it is firmly en
trenched in 19th Century Vienes
musical gestures,
ANTON WEBERN has writte
the most important music i
the first half of this century.
The tonal-atonal contradictior
which undermine so much of th
music of Berg and Schonberg exis
to a much lesser degree in Weberr
The only traditional musical fori
with which Webern had any sue
cess using serial development wa
the theme and variations.
The apparently conflicting cor
cepts of tonality and atonalit
have resulted in the bloodiest bat
tleground of 20th Century musi
For most people atonality impliE
the impolite invasion of tots
chromaticism on our comfortab
diatonic and tonal musical orde
Of the composers before ti
SecondhWorld War, only Weber
honestly considered the implice
tions of total chromaticism. H
concern with the smallest dets
of the shortest note and his shin
mering and transparent music
textures have forced composers
re-evaluate the substance of is(
lated sounds.
KARLHEINZ Stockhausen h
been foremost in expandir

Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Ge-
sange der Junglinge," a com-
position for boy soprano and
electronically generated sounds,
represents the most advanced
musical thinking of our time.

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

SUNDAY, MAY 3, 1959

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