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March 02, 1988 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-02

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ARTS
the Michigan Daily Wednesday, March 2, 1988 Page 10

I

P

.D.Q.

Bach:

Laughter

allegro

By Lisa Magnino
The New York Times called it "a
very funny show - even for people
who like music but don't know
why." It can include everything from
a "Pop Goes The Weasel?" classical
theme with variations to concertos
for instruments like the left-handed
sewer flute (a pipe with a faucet) and
the shoe horn (a pipe in a baby
shoe).
This undefinable musical con-
glomeration is An Evening of
P.D.Q. Bach brought to the Michi-
gan Theatre tonight by the renowned
musicologist Professor Peter
Schickele, head of the Department of
Musical Pathology at the extension
division of the University of South-
ern North Dakota at Hoople.
SOickele is the uncontested expert
P.D.Q. Bach and has published
y Definitive Biography of P.D.Q.
Bch which was translated to Ger-
~n.

About 30 years ago Schickele
first encountered the work of P.D.Q.
when the "Sanka Cantata" was dis-
covered in a Bavarian castle; the
caretaker was using it as a percolator
strainer. More than 75 other works
have surfaced in such places as in-
cinerators and the bottom of bird
cages.
Schickele believes that it is his
duty to make the public aware of the
often forgotten work of the son of
the famous composer, Johann
Sebastian Bach. He points out that
P.D.Q., the 21st of Johann's 20
children, was the only one denied
music lessons. But, as Schickele of-
ten declares, "As an adult, P.D.Q.
stands out as a monument to igno-
rance, a man who triumphed over the
most staggering obstacle ever placed
before a composer: absolute and utter
lack of talent."
Schickele's favorite chamber mu-
sic group is the Academy of St.
Martin-in-the-Raw, but tonight he
will work with the Ann Arbor

Chamber Orchestra, probably clothed
in his usual rumpled tuxedo and
hiking boots. Schickele's tradition-
ally non-traditional entrance to the
stage (often via rope ladder) will kick
off the performance which will in-
clude "The Howdy Symphony,"
"The Royal Firewater Music," and
"Fantasiestucke for Piano and Or-
chestra."
But the hit of the evening
promises to be the premier perfor-
mance of the "Little Pickle Book"
for dill piccolos (3 inches long and
green) and theatre organ to be per-
formed by Schickele and Michigan
Theatre's organist Dennis James.
When not discovering or
performing P.D.Q., Schickele ap-
plies his Juilliard background to
more standard writing for orchestra,
chamber ensemble, piano, organ, and
voice. Some have hinted that, with
such a background, Schickele may
be responsible for P.D.Q.'s work.
But the Los Angeles Times balks at
the idea: "P.D.Q.'s art defies plagia-

rism. P.D.Q.'s music lies beyond
the grasp of ordinary mortals and
Xerox copiers."
Whoever the composer is, audi-
ences do react to his music - be it
with laughter, boos, or hisses. To
one particularly raucous audience,
Schickele retorted, "Truth is imper-
vious to hissing." Tonight's the
night to find out that truth.
"AN EVENING WITH P.D.O.
BACH" with Professor Schickele
and the Ann Arbor Chamber
Orchestra comes to the Michigan
Theatre tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are
$20, $14, and $10.

Daily
Arts Page
Call: 763-0379

4

Professor Peter Schickele, the
Bach, premiers Bach's "Little
theatre organ tonight.

world's foremost authority on P.D.Q.
Pickle Book" for dill piccolo and

Which came irst, the

soundtrack or the film

2?

By Mike Rubin
Heard a good movie lately?
chances are the audio portions of a
qurrent blockbuster film have been
forced and foisted upon you recently,
whether you've realized it or not. A
mpajor trend in Hollywood in the last
several years involves the packaging
Qf films into gag-size pieces suitable
f simultaneous digestion in radios,
cable TV sets, compact disc players,
and jukeboxes, as well as plain old
theatres, creating a massive multi-
media overkill that dulls the senses
and drains the wallet.
Take Flashdance, for example
(yeah, it's old, but it's a prototype
of the new Hollywood marketing
strategy). The film appears, followed
closely by a series of dynamic videos

(whose rapidly-edited images
synopsize the plot so skillfully that
they make viewing the actual movie
redundant), which in turn boost the
sales of the 45, whose constant radio
airplay reminds the listener again and
again to "run out and see the
movie." Soon, cash registers are
ringing at both box offices and
record emporiums, and bells are
ringing in industry executives'
heads: why bother making intellec-
tually-challenging product, when
you can turn out a series of slick-
looking and snappy-sounding cross-
referencing commercials instead?
The acceptance of rock n' roll as
the standardbearer of musical expres-
sion in popular culture has sounded a
deathknell for the traditional Holly-
wood musical. Characters just don't
stand up and sing anymore; instead,
a blaring soundtrack reveals their
thoughts and feelings for them, and
more often than not, the inner
workings of their head and heart
sound more fit for analysis by a dis-
ciple of Casey Kasem than a student
of Freud or Jung. Sure, The Sound
of Music appealed to us in our bell-

bottomed youth, but try selling
show tunes to the mini-mallsters of
the Tiffany generation. Good luck.
These kids want Andrew Ridgeley,
not Julie Andrews.
The songs that are featured in
these current films aren't dramatic
instrumental scores that convey
emotional themes, witty composi-
tions that advance the film's plot, or
familiar rock standards whose inclu-
sion offers an ironic statement or
social comment on the actions that
appear on screen; rather, they are
bland kernels of mainstream fluff
whose sole purpose in the film is to
serve as advertisement (both for the
artist who sings them and for the
film itself). The tunes are in the film
to sell the single, the single gets ra-
dio airplay to sell the album, and the
album exists to sell the film.
Movies are more easily identifiable
by the Top 40 smashes heard in
them than by their interchangeable
plots and characters. Another clever
trick is to appropriate ballads of a
bygone era for no particular reason,
save manipulative nostalgia. Prime
offender in this category is Lawrence
Kasdan' magnum nope-us The Big
Chill.
The way the songs are integrated
into the films has been subverted as
well. Hoop-skirted pubescents do not
twist the night away to their favorite
contemporary tunes. Helmeted mo-
torcycle he-men do not discover
America's corruption to the beat of a
protest anthem. Instead, characters
switch on their car radios where the
new Kenny Loggins 45 "just hap-

pens" to be playing. The protago-
nists go to a dance club where the
new Bryan Ferry ditty is being spun.
A car-crash-crowded chase scene
pulses to a Pointer Sisters paean to
seduction. And, when the filmmak-
ers run out of ways to "subtly" meld
the songs to the flow of the film,
they just tack the damn thing to the
final credits. In short, the songs of
the film seem completely divorced
from the film itself.
MTV plays a vital role in this
cinematic incestuousness. Movie
themes become power rotation
videos become hit songs, and all
serve as commercials for the initial
product . Like the chicken-and-egg
dilemma, it becomes unclear what
the original function of the music
was: is the single drawn from the
soundtrack of the movie, or is the
tune added to the film like the logo
of a product? The filmmakers them-
selves are not above this question of
identity and purpose. Video directors
become film directors (like Mary
Lambert, Richard Loewenstein, and
Russell Mulcahy). Film directors
become video directors (like John
Sayles, Martin Scorcese, and even
Russ "Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!"
Meyer, who made a video for, of
course, Faster Pussycat). Some are
even confused enough to do both at
once (like Jonathon Demme, maker
of the feature length "video". film,
Stop Making Sense).
Where does this consumer
boundary-blurring end? A John
Hughes concept album? A Harold
Faltermeyer film-festival? Where the

hell is Ennio Morricone when you
need him? In the midst of all this
confusion of project and product,
signifier and signified, it's surprising
that no enterprising filmmaker/media
magnate has capitalized on Summer
of Love nostalgia and attempted to
remake the abominable Sergeant
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,

starring Jon BonJovi (the Peter
Frampton of the '80s) and either
Expose or Poison (you be the judge)
as the Brothers Gibb. It seems more
appropriate to these contemporary;
times of buy, sell, trade, and col-
lapse than to the late '70s. Anyway,
it beats using the Beatles to sell
shoes.

Records
LA Guns
LA Guns
Vertigo/Polygram Records

4 tt"
dt

...;

Okay, so they look and sound like Guns 'n' Roses. The names are
similar, they're from Los Angeles, and the lead guitarist's name is Tracii
Guns (Guns 'n' Roses' lead singer is W. Axl Rose). Given all that, you
could try to write this off as someone just trying to cash'in on bands from
the gutters of L.A., since the trash/glam scene found on the streets of L.A,
is hot right now. Okay, so maybe it is just an attempt to improve the cash-
flow situation at Polygram. But it's done so well...
The music is straight ahead blood and guts guitar-based rock 'n' roll, and
yes, it owes a lot to Aerosmith, but what's wrong with that? Sure,
Aerosmith's new album is great, but it's just not the same as the old
Aerosmith, which is the sound so many bands today are trying to emulat.
Grunge is the operative word here. The album lacks the studio polish of,
say, the Guns 'n' Roses LP, but it's not sorely missed. The lyrics aregt
going to send any English professors into paroxysms of joy, but then the
band doesn't claim to be literate. The music is what matters, and it rocks ou$
confidently. The LA Guns have been together less than a year, but the
members are all veterans of the viciously competitive L.A. club scene and
their talents are evident in songs like "One More Reason," "Electric Gypsy,"
and "Down in the City."
Alright, so it might all be a marketing ploy. But if you can ignore that
possibility and just listen, you'll find good rock 'n' roll.

.

'AULI

.. ... /.

BALL..L

.. :s;
112
.Sponsored by.....: Ntrt eorcs.

- -

t .

C EN TER FOR
WESTERN EUROPEAN STUDIES
study Abroad on the Michigan-Wisconsin
Academic Year Program in
Florence, Italy
Attend for either 1 or 2 terms.
Earn in-residence credits by taking a variety of
courses, all taught in English.
Financial aid applies.
:
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EXPLORE YOUR SPIRITUALITY
A Counseling Services workshop designed for
people who wish to address:
"What is spirituality? How does it relate to religion? "
"How does spirituality fit into my daily life? "
"What spiritual practices might I create or discover
to suit me now? "
Not appropriate for persons who are seeking religious instruction or who desire to
influence others in the direction of a specific belief system.
Meets Wednesdays 6:30-8:30 P.M. on March 9th.
March 16th and March 23rd.
Call Counseling Services for a screening appointment
764-8312
s f Albert Terrace
1700 Geddes
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Phone# for Albert Terrace
(313)761-1717
Affordable Rates!
,naeniia 2 Rdrnnm Ri-leve1 Anartments

-Chuck Skarsaund
MEGILLAH READING SERVICE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2 7PM AT THE MIOHIGAN UNION, PENDELTON ROOM
(NOT QUITE TRADITIONAL)
I 7PM AT THE FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE
7 - (TRADITIONAL)
Please dress for the occasion.
PURIM BASH'88'
/ WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
9PM MICHIGAN UNION, BALLROOM
Featuring The Blue Meanles, Michigan's hottest dance band. Outrageous
costumes are in order. Purim drinks and munchies.
$2 w/costume $3 w/out costume
~>aI

4

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