THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Sunday, January 24, 1971 AW
THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday, January 24, 1971
uoney M mxture: W
By LUKE BALDWIN
Michael Cooney returned to
the Ark Friday night, and gave
one of his best performances in
Cooney, who has appeared
here many times over the past
several years, is now one of the
best established performers in
s his field. He is very well known
in the small clubs across the
country he chooses to play, but
has carefully avoided the con-
cert halls. He also writes a reg-
ular column for SING OUT!
Michael has developed a very
effective style of presenting
traditional music in a way that
is especially appealing Ito audi-
ences. Nevertheless, h a v i n g
seen him perform over a dozen
times in the last three years. I
have felt that he may have be-
come boring to those who have
seen him before.
Cooney has such a command
over his audience that even on
an "off" night he seems to
Quite frankly, I was rather
anxious for Michael to give a
typical performance so that I
might suggest that he try some-
thing new. He didn't need that
-Daily-Denny Gainer suggestion.
Insidea beautiful Cag~e
Although Cooney's style re-
mained basicly the same, he
sang with much more life than
the last time I heard him. His
boyish manner remained witty,
rather than cute, and his Instru-
mentation was relatively pre-
cise, instead of just being pas-
sable. One got the sense that
he was really interested in play-
ing, and not just playing an-
other concert, trying to enjoy
Cooney walked on, his hands
full of instruments, well before
the 9:00 starting time, and be-
gan with a banjo instrumental.
He then broke into a familiar
Mexican sing along, followed by
a taste of classical banjo pick-
ing, a la Pete Seeger.
Cooney immediately began his
Sconversation with the audience,
and seemingly had established
a working rapport with the
crowd after about five minutes.
Part of Cooney's skill in se-
lecting his material stood out
here. No matter how many
verses there are to an old bal-
lad, Michael seems to know the
ones that will draw a little
laughter: "I'd never marry a
school teacher/And here's the
reason why/She blows her nose
in old corn bread/And calls it
Cooney is also always ready to
express his love for traditional
music in its original form, re-
senting some of the popularized
adulterations. He said of "Wor-
ried Man Blues:" "You know
when the Carter Family first
recorded that song, they sang
it like I just did. It was really
a nice song. Then the Kingston
Trio recorded it, adding to the
chorus, and with longer pauses.
Well, when the new Carter
Family (with mother Maybelle)
first began to sing on the John-
ny Cash show, they sang it the
way the Kingston Trio did."
Cooney then switched to the
guitar, playing "Winsborough
Cotton Mill Blues." Although
Cooney's blues picking is very
predictable (one always has a
sense of what riff will come
next) he played very cleanly.
and more precisely than usual.
My first real thrill of the eve-
ning was when Michael yodeled
in this number. He won't go
down as one of the world's great
yodelers, but he yodeled very
effectively with a full, consist-
ent tone. It was the first time
I'd ever heard him yodel, pro-
viding a change of pace, and
adling a new dimension to his
The concertina also worked its
way into the music. It is an in-
strument still quite new to
Cooney, and he has yet to mas-
ter it, At least one no longer,
gets the impression Michael is
playing with his thumbs.
The second set began with a
version of ."Frankie and JoV
ny," followed by "The Dying
Hobo," a number very similar to
many Jimmie Rodgers songs.
Cooney got in his usual plugs
for SING OUT!, singing "Gar-
bage" (printed in the 20th An-
niversary issue) and a parody of
"The Old Lady Who Swallowed
A Fly," which will be printed in
the next issue.
Cooney the showman emerged
in a discussion of "Jack" tales,
as he subtley exhibited his
knowledge of folklore, skillfully
stumbling through a few stories.
The third set, which contin-
ued until about one-thirty, was
even more informal. Michael
played his standard "Ground-
hog" on the fretless banjo.
played a few tunes on his ar-
ray of penny whistles, and even
did a few of his old high school
Whenever someone becomes
especially successful in his field,
people seem to become more
critical of him. My attitude is
no different. A reviewer often
welcomes a bad performance,
simply to preserve his credi-
bility. I though my expectations
Friday night exceeded what
Cooney was ready to give.
Cooney proved me wrong. I was
not only glad to hear such a fine
concert, but encouraged to see
that Michael Cooney has not
settled into the rut of success.
IS THE MOST
MOVING THE MOST
INTELLIGENT, THE MOST
HUMANE - OH9TO HELL
WITH IT! - IT'S THE
BEST AMERICAN FILM
I'VE SEEN THIS YEAR!"
-VINCENT CANBY, N.Y. TIMES
5, 7, and 9
New York Magazine says:
"The tickle -and.-tease
involves the brain as wel
as the pelvis, putting the
le Vio,' (the Rape) into
the category of grown-up
fun and games."4
And. A, Angell Hall
Sunday Matinee, Jan. 24
1 00 & 3:00 P.M.
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By JOE PEHRSON
One of the more interesting
records of contemporary music
currently available is "John
Cage - Music f o r Keyboard
1935-1948," a recent Columbia
This recording includes all of
Cage's "prepared" piano music,
and, in addition, s o m e early
piano works which generally
are not heard.
In fact, Cage's repertoire in-
cludes the sounds from three
keyboard instruments: the "pre-
pared" piano (a piano which has
become a minaturized equiva-
lent of a small chamber ensem-
ble through the addition of piec-
es of rubber, bolts and bolt and
nut combinations which are at-
tached to the strings), a toy
piano,-and the unaltered instru-
ment, all three of which are
played energetically by Jeanne
Perhaps t h e most noticable
characteristic of all of Cage's
music, and certainly an impor-
tant aspect of all of the music
recorded on this album is the
degree of specification Cage re-
quires for each audible event.
Cage's organization centers on
the nature of t h e individual
sounds which are heard in his
music and minute changes in
timbre and- volume which dis-
tinguish these sounds one from
another. This attitude toward'
the individual leads to a music
of re-occurence. Cage empha-
sizes the importance of e a c h
event by a structure which per-
mits the frequent re-appearance
of sounds already heard, either
in their original form or with
some slight alteration.
One structure which permits
this individual emphasis is or-
iental in nature (or Polynesian
if we are to believe the effect of
Henry Cowell's instruction in
these musical forms on a young
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Cage). Another structure which
permits this emphasis is that of
random occurence (a l e a t o r y,
In the piano music there is
little of this second form and
we are left to assume there is
something inherent in these per-
cussion instruments, at. least
when used in solo capacity, that
lends itself to the delicacies of
variation in re-appearance.
The earliest pieces on this re-
cording are two works for piano
"modo ordinario": "Two Pieces"
(1935) a n d "Metamorphosis"
These early works are of in-
terest to anyone wishing to fol-,
low the evolution of Cage's
style. There is a decided serial
influence and Cage's relation-
ship to the linear school of com-
position becomes immediately
It is, of course, possible to
see his later composition as
merely an extension of the atti-
tudes formulated by the serial-
ists; music which has become so
linear as to include the possibil-
ity for any sound at all (alea-
tory) or no sound.
Unlike a strictly serial com-
position which would tend to
place equal emphasis on an ex-
tended series of pitches, Cage's
early pieces center around small
chromatic figures which are
frequently repeated. These fig-
ures are basic units which car-
ry rhythmic patterns remaining
constant in repetition.
There are those w h o argue
that Cage's music is only a mu-
sic of theory - something to be
talked about and considered in
concept, but not heard. Basical-
ly. this indicates a misunder-
standing of his musical content.
There is more than a theoretical
attitude toward sound in Cage's
work; there is also the sound.
Cage's "musical" sense can
best be illustrated through these
early works. The definition of
music at this point in Cage's'
development is not his own.
Therefore, a comparison is pos-
sible based upon a "musicality"
established by the neo-classisist
and serial traditions. Cage, at
this point, was directing his tal-
ent toward previously establish-
ed forms rather than inventing
forms for himself.
Those unable to accept Cage's
later work as music, and who
consider Cage a music theorist,
should listen to the early works
on this album. Here Cage's abil-
ity is in familiar ground. It is
no wonder Henry Cowell accept-
ed Cage as a pupil with enthus-
iasm after listening to some of
this early material.
"Two Pieces" (1935) are clear-
ly defined by a "musicality" es-
tablished by a serial tradition.
Unlike serial composition, how-
ever, this music seems static,
non-directional, but never los-
ing a coherent form. The em-
See FROM, Page 6
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