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November 16, 1966 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1966-11-16
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Av n - a d ui From Passivity to Activity;
From Culture to Pleasure;*
Toward Our Daily Life
by- Robert Nathan

IT IS 1910. The Grandaddy innovator of
American music, Charles Ives, ad-
dresses pianists performing his "Concord
Sonata"--.
"Throughout this movement . .. there
are many passages not to be too evenly
played and in which the tempo is not
precise or static; it varies usually with
the mood of the day, as well as that of
Emerson, the other Concord bards, and
the player: The same essay or poem
... may bring a slightly different feel-
ing when read at sunrise than when
read at sunset."
To push forward, taking no .markings
or instructions too literally, is the All-
American method for accomplishing some-
thing. Today, a half-century after Ives'
Instructions were written, the composer
John Cage carries on this tradition of
exploration in music, encouraging other
artists to continue making music an in-
tegral part of life, a hold on the real
nitty-gritty rather than a passive "reflex,
remote and pale" (Curt Sachs).
Cage is the "Great White Hunter" ver-
Tified by TIME magazine. Last year in
Palermo, Italy, he lectured to the Euro-
pean musical aristocracy and drove home
his message: Cage was introduced (ap-
plause and other response) and strode to
the podium . from left field, Cage
whipped out two 45 pistols and began fir-
ing - . the ceremonious audience scat-
tered.
[ STHE NEW AMERICAN MUSIC LE-
THAL? Cage : "All of my work is di-
r-ected against those who are bent,
through stupidity or design, on blowing
up the planet."
Even if you aren'tinterested in the-'
new music, you can appreciate the chan-
ges realized and anticipated in the social
workout of Art since the 1950's. The new
generation of artists and musicians have
begun to employ voices, reveries, and f a-
miliar environments into something use-
ful, or at least interesting, to our lives.
It seems that paintings, poetry and
other art-products in the West have al-
ways been created and then corralled,
like anthropological remains, into some-
one's bag for private and public display.
The activity of appreciation was re-
stricted to a narrow highway of approach
and recession by the limited availability
of otherwise meaningful Art work. Most
of the citizenry, being apart from this
syndrome, had the American hash of
work, fun, and craft, the mountains
within walking distance, and perhaps no
official poetry around at all. The new
live performances, still use art-products
and technologies as before, of course, but
the movement has the spirit of the have-
nots.
Whether concert music will ever really
become folk 'art (distinguished from in-
terpretive pop art) remains to be seen.
LIFE magazine has reported that, at the
recent Buffalo Arts Festival, the avant-

garde produced "fun for the whole fam-
ily." Louis Armstrong once remarked,
"Sure, all music is folk music. I ain't nev-
er heard a horse sing."
pOR EVERY important new artistic
gesture, it is necessary to switch to
some new materials. Like the famous
blues pianist, Roosevelt Sykes said: "I
don't play the organ any more, a fellow
has to pound on something . . you've
got to mash it."
The search for compositional work ma-
terial is ordered and modified by interest
and discovery, and the acts of performing
and listening are alive in the same "pro-
cess." The material, the compositional
procedure, the composer, the day's wea-
ther; all these approach each other, and
everything starts shaking like a leaf on a
tree. From work comes works; from works
come involvement, and music marches on,
or something.
The Mid-Century's Joyroad Interchange
THE CITY of New York in the early
1950's was the business area for com-
posers, artists, dancers, poets and other
folk anxious to part American arts from
post-war European standards. Discover -
ing each other by chance, composers
Earle Brown,. Morton Feldman, John
Cage, Christian Wolff, Henry Cowell and
their friends, the artists Bob Rauchen-
berg and Marcel Duchamp opened the
window and "put the stamp of national

the dynamics, the number of instru-
ments) with other aspects of performance
left open (i.e., total duration, specific
pitches). The scores are sometimes boxes
with numbers, sometimes covered with
circles, squiggly lines, arrows and pic-
tures. Some have had next to nothing on
them, like Cage's famous silent piece.
Christian Wolff: "People sometimes
ask, why don't you just specify what you
want and be done with it? I do ... It's as
though you take a walk with a friend.. .
going by whichever ways you like, agree-
ing on the way, with a direction in mind
or getting lost, or going nowhere in par-
ticular, and you are absorbed by this.
The landscape in which they walk is
what is given."
Continuing: Specifics of the
American Frontier
FOR THE most part, the first graph
works were "realized" or performed
like the Germanic serial-ordered or
"problem solving" music. Bad days at the
dead letter office. Many young composers
still barrage performers with elaborate
mathematical formulae and instructions.
Most of these works could enter the rich-
er field of chance by erasing the com-
plexities (usually rhythmic) to let the
sounds themselves come into play with-
the performance circumstances at hand-
Mathematics is best used as a compo-
sitional tool subordinate to the musical
result; - otherwise it is a game exercise,
and we run into the problem that Max
Weber exposited in "The Rational and
Social Foundations of Music"-the petri-
fication of "affective" goals during an
emergent "rationality" that dininishes
expressiveness for the sake of order. The
serialists seem to want to conceive of
the world as a little more predictable and
perhaps somewhat safer than it actually
is. Let's twist again exactly like we did
last summer.
At the beginning, pure chance music
was also limited by "absolute" working
procedures, but earned its salt by open-
ing up other uses of music and forcing
out the old prejudices of just who and
what could make music.
0HANCE PROCEDURES helped compo-
sers feel in touch with a process out-
side their own tastes. Pre-empting the
score paper gave the composers leeway
for expansion and experimentation.
Christian Wolff's early pieces were on
the order of jazz "charts"; works which
avoided planned continuity and kept im-
provisation and direct reading-off be-
tween performers. Earle Brown designed
three dimensional graphs, and Cage

called the "breathing" of the work (the
some principle exists in Japanese music).
THOSE ENTIRELY old war-horses, the
opera and the symphony, live again
as Bob Ashley's "In Memoriam Crazy
Horse" (symphony) and "Kit Carson"
(opera). The symphony is a~ circular
graph along which the musicians advance
like braves around a pioneer encamp-
ment. The opera, in 81 "moments," was
realized for 8 married couples at the first
performance to facilitate interaction.
Philip Corner indicates poetic and psy-
chological imperatives by combining calli-
graphy with written suggestions. His "At-
tempting Whitenesses" aims at "creating
a basis of simplicity" of instrumental
sound, interferred with by unsuccessful
and disturbing factors-SCREECH. "Lec-
ture from Sunday Performance" is for
one reader and the "sympathetic reso-
nance" of background performers. As
Corner says, he is not afraid to build up
to a climax-
In this music the talents and inventive-
ness of both the composer and performer
become obvious from the outset: Feld-
man's "Last Pieces" under Leonard Bern-
stein's direction sound like Schoenbergian
drama. The pianist David Tudor sent
people running for the exits when he be-
gan scraping contact microphones across
plates of glass in Cage's "Variations IV"-
Corner's reknowned "Piano Activities"
produces much the same reaction when,
at the climax of a quarter hour's intense
motion, the pianists give the piano the
axe.
ON THE OTHER hand "Atlas Eclipti-
.... calis" (1961), composed by Cage
from astronomical charts, is beautiful
music, even when "uglified" by attaching
contact microphones to the instruments
and channeling their sound through a
central system, where the sounds are illu-
minated indeterminately of the orchestra
until "the presence of silence is felt."
Cage: "I fought for noises. I liked be-
ing on the side of the underdog . .. the
war came along." . . I decided to use only
quiet sounds . . . there seemed to be no
truth, no good in anything big in society
. "but quiet sounds were like loneliness
or love or friendship. Permanent values
independent, at least, from LIFE, TIME
or Coca-Cola . but something else is
happening . und the old sounds are fresh
and new"
The extremely quiet and super-loud
sections of George Cacciopo's "The Holy
Ghost Vacuum or America Faints" for
electric organ, contain just enoughjunk
noise to make the work believable.
The Electronic Mushroom
THROUGH THE mushrooming of the
hi-fi and the use of recording tapes,
composers have easily acquired a limit-
less world of sound. Well over 100 tape
music studios have been established in
the last 15 years. Actually, anyone can
explore-the sound properties of any ob-
jectmand make music
Most American composers using the
tape medium continually modify their
equipment and studio designs to manipu-
late sounds both electronically generated
(German elektronische musik) and nat-
ural (French musique concrete) : Ashley's
"Fourth of July" grew from recordings
of afteAoon celebrations on that holiday
in 1960. Gordon Mumma's "Epoxy"
"soundblocks" range from electronic den-
sities of sound to violent pronouncements
by Hitler, Gov. Wallace, DeGuale and
the rest. James 'Tenny's "Blue Suede" is
a fragmentation of the Elvis Presley re-
cord.
Richard Maxfield's "A Swarm of But-
terf lies Encountered. on the Ocean" and
"Wind" are both electronic subtleties. His
"Amazing Grace" Ashley's friendly "I'm
Not Afraid of You, Boulez", David Behr-
man's "Milwaukee Combination" of late,
late shows, and Mumma's music for
George Manupelli's film "if You Leave
Me I Will Kill Mysef" enhance that most
popular of natural sound-sources, the
human voice.
(see next page)

EARLY IN THE GAME, when tapes
were played alone, both composers
and audiences felt uncomfortable facing
a loudspeaker-performer. Listeners often
did not know whether or not to applaud,
and everyone began to fear the automa-
tion of the concert hall. Some composers
began working tape music into highly
structured roles with other instruments.
Edgar Varese's "Deserts," Roberto Ger-
hard's "Collage" for tape and large or-
chestra, and Mario Davidosky's "Syn-
chronism" are some happy occurences
which avoid the wild-genius, modern aca-
demic sound.
However, sometimes the tapes merely
imitated normal instruments - Milton
Babbitt took a year to "compose" an 8
minute piece on the RCA synthesizer
which sounds for all the world like oboes
and harpsichords.
What Men Really Want
Then chance entered the scene, in tape
works like Corner's "Composition with/or
without Beverley" (for piano, percussion
and tapes), Bob Sheff's "The All-Ameri-
can Municipal North Time Capsule Blues"
(for guitar and a tape of trains, airplanes,
submarines and Tina Turner), and Mum
ma's "Meanwhile, A Twopiece" (for 2
cowboys who batter standard instruments
and common objects, like the kitchen
sink, in an onslaught).
In one realization of Alymer Gladdys'
"Elixer 8", an instant replay technique
was applied to the comments and guffaws
of .the audience. The audience became
quieter until their natural responses re-
turned. The instruction score for "Elixer
8" is an enthusiastic description of "in-
ter-neighborhood development (program
and change)," with an emphasis on re-
percussive events. Alymer Gladdys has
written yet another piece for the entire
city of Los Angeles. Yep-

ASHLEY'S "Public Opinion Decends on
the Demonstrators" puts the audi-
ence in direct contact with the electronic
sound-sources and vice-versa. Perform-
ers respond through sound to exaggerated
gesture, enforced physical rigidity (wait-
ing it out) and meaningful glances. In-
dividuals react quite differently-the ex-
hibitionists and the shrinking violets
show themselves early.
Cage's lecture-composition, "Where are
we going? What are we doing?" comes
on four independent tapes which may be
played in any number, order and portion,
with or without a live reader. Each tape,
meaningful in itself, creates new mean-
ing by its chance juxtaposition with the
other tapes.
The "Talk I" between Cage, Ashley,
Tudor, Mumma and Rauchenberg, which
took place atop the Maynard Street park-
ing structure in Ann Arbor in 1965, was
an informal conversation channeled into
mixers and projected indeterminately
through the night and over the town. You
could walk from your own backyard six
blocks away, hear the talk emphasized
and quieted, and meet people looking for
the location of the mysterious voices.
Cage feels his lectures demonstrate what
he is talking about, while he is talking
about it.
NO. MATTER HOW precise the notation
in previous Western musics, a piece
of music bearing the marking espressivo
does not suggest the same thing to two
pianists on the day the piece is written,
to one pianist before and after lunch, and
certainly the concept of espressivo chang-
es in 20 years.
The chance factor in interpretation
from performance to performance is made
plain in Terry Riley's "Concert for Two

Pianists and Five Tape Recorders," which
has no instructions for its realization be-
yond its title, but presents graphs of
physical gesture, a drawing of a TV tube,
the words ON and OFF, fragments of
calligraphy on musical staves and other
forms freely on the score-all of which
,gain meaning when someone chooses to
do something because of them. This sug-
gestive graphing is not much different
from Playboy's symbolic line cartoons or
advertisement emblems. Riley says that
systematic instructions "take some of the
magic out of the piece."
Nevertheless, and magically too, Ash-
ley's "The Wolfman" a solo spectacular
with tape containing beer commercials,,
continues to graduate "systematically" in
sound and complexion from the human
to the inhuman (i.e. an animal or stage
symbol), backed at times by the plastic
art of the singing and gesticulating Son-
ics: black plastic coats, black plastic
shoes .. .
Some Progression
ADVANCES IN technology s o c i a l
change and musical innovation occur
simultaneously; information rubs against
information in a livelier fashion than Mc-
Luhan's cause-effect media or Morse
Peckham's pure chaos would lead us to
experience. ("To speak is to lie" goes-the
saying: the medium is not the meaning.)
Contemporary artists share the same
technology as their audiences. As Billy.
Kluver of Bell Telephone Labs points out,
the Futurists painted .airplanes but never
really used them. Today, new ideas are
engineered for artistic purposes. Per-
formers and composers are already mak-
ing use of home TV, infra-red TV (Rau-
chenberg's recent "Open Score"), video
tape (Cage's glorious one-half hour for
German networks), photoelectric cells or
silicone rectifiers (which sense almost

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This is the second in a series on avant-garde art which
will appear in the Michigan Daily MAGAZINE. Other
articles will include discussions of the modern, the pop,
and the experimental as they appear in the changing
media. The third in the series will be about modern
painting.
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power and unquestioned authority" on
the everyday world, the world of chance
and process-including the environment
whichrwe provide for others by our con-
stant auditory visual workaday activities.
The composers, the performers, the
listeners and even the surroundings of
concert musicin the West-none had
enough open space to create music for
the moment, the way musicians of other
cultures and our own folk musicians had
done for centuries. So, the New Yorkers
welcomed the surprise element of music
and established graphic notation and
chance procedures which do not man-
handle the performers' and listeners' psy-
chologies and talents by imposing one
man's complete unvarying musical im-
age: The composer provides the camera
and the performer takes the picture-
A graph score is -a record of certain
parameters or guidelines (for example,

made each of the 15 parts of the "Con-
cert for Piano Orchestra" (1957) a solo
voice itself, re-creating an Indian con-
cept of ensemble work. Any number of
parts may be used, and the full ensemble
can go through all the sound changes
from a traffic jam to birds in the park.
Cage has composed from such reference
material as the Chinese Book of Changes
and imperfections in paper. He has in-
vented colored and transparent scores,
and the prepared piano, sometimes called
The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Dancer Merce Cunningham works by
change procedures to free his movements
from stylistic gesture, and in his "Col-
lage" (1953) non-dancers perform acti-
vities from their daily lives. Morton Feld-
man and George Crevoshay have taken
standard notation and have replaced me-
chanical rhythm with a basic impulse

Three Graph Scores of the New Com pos

.:::....:i ti/ 5

These three scores illustrate the new
parameters of the relation between
composer and performer. They vary in
degree of precision and in appearance,
looking, in turn, like electronic cir-
cuitry, Japanese calligraphy, and an
Indian prayer wheel.
The score on the cover (see left) is
from a work by the New York com-
poser Philip Corner entitled, appro-
priately, Ink Marks for Performance.
Black on the score indicates sound,
white indicates silence. It runs to 20
pages, and can be played (interpreted)
by any performer who will thought-

fully translate the written page into
comparable sound.
The circuitry score (top right) is
from Gordon Mumma's Medium Size
Mograph. It charts gestures toward the
left or right that a performer is to
make with his instrument; some of
these motions produce specific sounds
and the others trigger silent-but en-
ergetic-gesticulation. The composer
thus uses both the auditory and the
visual senses of the audience.
The third score (top right) is one of
32 group parts for Bob Ashley's sym-
phony in memoriam Crazy Horse.
Players read the notation clockwise, or

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Pageour H~MIUI~A DAIY MAAZIN

Page Four

_ fiHE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1966

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