Advertisement

Modern Times pp 309-348 | Cite as

The Americas, 1945–70

  • William Brooks
Part of the Man & Music book series (MAMU)

Abstract

At the end of World War II, composers of art music in Western cultures found their craft radically affected in three different but related ways. The first was historical: composers had to face, in their own domain, the shattering consequences (geopolitical, economic, ideological) of the largest and most horrific war in history. The second was technical: the burst of industrial growth which accompanied and followed the war fundamentally altered both the tools of the composer’s trade and music’s economic and social position. The third was institutional: the postwar conviction that specialization is prerequisite for progress provided composers with a new means of support, while deeply altering their relationship to their audience. These three domains are central to the understanding of all postwar music; in the Americas their impact has been especially keen.

Keywords

Modern Time Postwar Period Popular Music Experimental Music Concert Hall 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    D. Cope, New Directions in Music (Dubuque, 5/1989), 45f.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The content and structure of this discussion of technology draw heavily on H. Davies’s ‘Electronic Music: History and Development’, in Dictionary of Contemporary Music, ed. J. Vinton (New York, 1974).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The first, seminal experiments using computers to write music, are described in a pioneering book: L. Hiller and L. Isaacson, Experimental Music (New York, 1959).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Good contemporary overviews of 1950s and 60s technology are in E. Schwartz, Electronic Music: a Listener’s Guide (New York, 1973),Google Scholar
  5. and J. A. Appleton and R. C. Perera, The Development and Practice of Electronic Music (Englewood Cliffs, 1975).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    See S. McLary, ‘Terminal Prestige: The Case of Avant-Garde Music Composition’, Cultural Critique, xii (Spring 1989), 57–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 6.
    W. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations (New York, 1969), 217–51.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    There is a reverential account of Boulanger’s enormous influence in D. G. Campbell, Master Teacher: Nadia Boulanger (Washington, 1984);Google Scholar
  9. for Philip Glass’s seemingly unlikely tribute, see his interview in C. Cagne and T. Coras, Soundpieces: Interviews with American Composers (Metuchen, NJ, 1982), 211f.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    In a chapter entitled ‘The Rise of American Art Music and the Impact of the Immigrant Wave of the Late 1930’s’, J. Rockwell examines Krenek as a paradigm at this development; see Rockwell, All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century (New York, 1983).Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    The importance of the CBC and other Canadian institutions is revealed throughout G. A. Proctor, Canadian Music of the Twentieth Century (Toronto, 1980), especially in the preface (pp.ix–xii).Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    Many of these teacher-pupil relationships are summarized in an appendix to N. Butterworth, A Dictionary of American Composers (New York and London, 1964).Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    Yates is an important figure whose Twentieth Century Music (New York, 1967) is neglected.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    The central importance of twelve-note technique can be gauged by the fact that by 1961 it alone, among technical procedures, was deemed worthy of an independent bibliography: A. Basart, Serial Music: a Classified Bibliography of Writings on Twelve-Tone and Electronic Music (Berkeley, 1961).Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    L. Hiller, ‘Music composed with Computers: a Historical Survey’, in The Computer and Music, ed. H. Lincoln (Ithaca, NY, 1970), 42–96.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    A contemporaneous and influential book by R. Smith, Contemporary Percussion (London, 1970), helped to focus the wide-ranging experiments in this domain.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    The literature on ‘extended techniques’ began with B. Bartolozzi, New Sounds for Woodwind (London, 1967), and continued with numerous articles and a celebrated series of monographs published by the University of California Press (The Contemporary Contrabass, The Avant- Garde Flute, etc).Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Timbre and texture are treated as central compositional tools in R. Erickson, Sound Structure in Music (Berkeley, 1975).Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Copland gives a cogent summary of the dynamics associated with this development in The New Music (New York, 1968), 107f.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Copland also remained a perceptive commentator on musical events, manifested in his addenda to the revised edition of Our New Music, repubd as The New Music (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Schuller introduced the term ‘third stream’ in August 1957, to help identify a body of works already written; see N. Cernovale, Gunther Schuller: a Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1987), 9.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Information about the former, more conservative composers can be found in A. Tischler’s Fifteen Black American Composers: a Bibliography of their Works (Detroit, 1981);Google Scholar
  23. the latter group is presented in D. Baker, L. M. Belt and H. C. Hudson, The Black Composer Speaks (Metuchen, NJ, 1978).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    D. Reck, Music of the Whole Earth (New York, 1977), though neither about nor for composers, summarizes the emergence of a globalist aesthetic in the 1960s.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Carter’s writings are also of great importance, compiled in The Writings of Elliott Carter: an American Composer Looks at Modern Music, ed. E. K. Stone (Bloomington, Ind., 1977);Google Scholar
  26. his music is well served in D. Schiff, The Music of Elliott Carter (London, 1983).Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Varèse’s late aesthetic was best presented by the composer himself in writings collected as ‘The Liberation of Music’, in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, ed. E. Schwartz and B. Childs (New York, 1967), 196–208.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Nancarrow’s work has produced a flurry of interest in the past decade; the best single source remains P. Garland, Conlon Nancarrow: Selected Studies for Player Piano (Berkeley, 1977).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Carrillo then dropped from view again until the 1970s, when an issue of P. Garland’s journal, Soundings, no.5 (Jan 1973), included scores, a tribute and a translation of Carrillo’s essay ‘The Thirteenth Sound’.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    In addition to Partch, Genesis of a Music (Madison, Wisc., 1949/R1977),Google Scholar
  31. see B. Johnston, ‘The Corporealism of Harry Partch’, PNM, xiii/2 (1975), 85–97.Google Scholar
  32. 31.
    Johnston’s music is thoroughly discussed in H. V. Gunden, The Music of Ben Johnston (Metuchen, NJ, 1986).Google Scholar
  33. 32.
    M. Babbitt, ‘Who Cares if You Listen’ [the correct title is ‘The Composer as Specialist’] High Fidelity, viii/2 (Feb 1958), 38–40, 126f.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    These developments are traced in four seminal articles by Babbitt: ‘Some Aspects of Twelve-Tone Composition’, in The Score and I.M.A. Magazine, xii (1955), 53–61;Google Scholar
  35. ‘Twelve-Tone Invariants as Compositional Determinants’, MQ, xlvi (1960), 246–59;Google Scholar
  36. ‘Set Structure as a Compositional Determinant’, JMT, v (1961), 72–94; andGoogle Scholar
  37. ‘Twelve-Tone Rhythmic Structure and the Electronic Medium’, PNM, i/1 (1962), 49–79.Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    Cage’s legacy is discussed in M. Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond (London, 1974),Google Scholar
  39. and T. DeLio, Circumscribing the Open Universe (Lanham, 1984).Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    Hiller’s contemporaneous overview, ‘Music Composed with Computers: a Historical Survey’, in The Computer and Music, ed. H. Lincoln (Ithaca, NY, 1970), 42–96,Google Scholar
  41. has been augmented and extended by C. Ames, ‘Automated Composition in Retrospect, 1956–86’, Leonardo (Oxford, 1987).Google Scholar
  42. 41.
    The contemporaneous context for such works is discussed in R. Kostelanetz, The Theatre of Mixed Means (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
  43. 42.
    Pellegrino, The Electronic Arts of Sound and Light (New York, 1963), although largely self-serving, includes a compact overview of early experiments.Google Scholar
  44. 43.
    also pertinent are parts of D. Higgins, Postface (New York, 1964).Google Scholar
  45. 44.
    Gaburo published 32 of his works in a series entitled Collection (San Diego, 1975); his work was the subject of a special issue of PNM, xviii (1979).Google Scholar
  46. 45.
    The interaction of music with language and poetry is well represented in an anthology by R. Kostelanetz, Text-Sound Texts (New York, 1980).Google Scholar
  47. 46.
    R. S. James, ‘ONCE: Microcosm of the 1960s Musical and Multimedia Avant-Garde’, American Music, v/4 (1987), 359–90.Google Scholar
  48. 47.
    S. Barnes, Democracy’s Body: Judson Dance Theatre, 1962–1964 (Ann Arbor, 1983);Google Scholar
  49. see also Barnes, Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-modern Dance (Boston, Mass., 1980).Google Scholar
  50. 48.
    See M. Cunningham, Changes: Notes on Choreography (New York, 1969).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    R. Murray Schafer, The Tuning of the World (Philadelphia, 21/1980);Google Scholar
  52. and also Creative Music Education: a Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (New York, 1976).Google Scholar
  53. 54.
    In 1965 Cage began a series of texts entitled ‘Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)’; and the dedication to his second volume of writings, A Year from Monday (Middletown, Conn., 1967), reads ‘To us and all who hate us, that the U.S.A. may become just another part of the world, no more, no less’ (p.[v]).Google Scholar

Bibliographical Note

  1. For the period 1945–70 the three most essential sources for the USA, Canada and Latin America respectively are all more general references: The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, ed. H. W. Hitchcock and S. Sadie (London, 1986);Google Scholar
  2. Contemporary Canadian Composers, ed. K. MacMillan and J. Beckwith (Toronto, 1975);Google Scholar
  3. and G. Behague, Music in Latin America: an Introduction (Englewood Cliffs, 1979).Google Scholar
  4. Several other standard texts, though covering a broader domain than that discussed in this chapter, are of considerable use: N. Slonimsky, Music Since 1900 (New York, 4/1971);Google Scholar
  5. J. Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music (New York, 2/1979);Google Scholar
  6. E. Salzman, Twentieth-Century Music: an Introduction (Englewood Cliffs, 3/1988);Google Scholar
  7. and G. A. Proctor, Canadian Music of the Twentieth Century (Toronto, 1980).Google Scholar
  8. Especially valuable is D. Cope’s New Directions in Music (Dubuque, 5/1989); the extensive annotated bibliographies and discographies make this an important research tool as well as an introductory text.Google Scholar
  9. Other research and reference sources are now outdated but remain extremely useful for the contemporaneous insights they offer; prime among them is the Dictionary of Contemporary Music, ed. J. Vinton (New York, 1974).Google Scholar
  10. Biographical information on particular composers can sometimes be supplemented from sources like E. R. Anderson’s Contemporary American Composers: a Biographical Dictionary (Boston, Mass., 1976),Google Scholar
  11. Thirty-Four Biographies of Canadian Composers (Montreal, 1964), and material scattered through the series Composers of the Americas, published first by the Pan American Union and later by the Organization of American States.Google Scholar
  12. Also outdated but useful are several books on technology: The Development and Practice of Electronic Music, ed. J. Appleton and R. C. Perrera (Englewood Cliffs, 1974);Google Scholar
  13. E. Schwartz, Electronic Music: a Listener’s Guide (New York, 1972);Google Scholar
  14. The Computer and Music, ed. H. Lincoln (Ithaca, NY, 1970);Google Scholar
  15. and Music by Computers, ed. H. Von Foerster and J. W. Beauchamp (New York, 1969).Google Scholar
  16. Four recent volumes are primarily concerned with later music but contain important discussions of the period 1945–70: J. Rockwell, All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century (New York, 1983);Google Scholar
  17. P. Garland, Americas: Essays on American Music and Culture, 1973–80 (Santa Fe, 1982);Google Scholar
  18. J. Schaefer, New Sounds: a Listener’s Guide to New Music (New York, 1987);Google Scholar
  19. and P. Manning, Electronic and Computer Music (Oxford, 1985).Google Scholar
  20. An important series of Canadian biographies published by the University of Toronto Press includes Barbara Pentland, R. Murray Schafer and others. Threejournals occasionally address this period in articles of high quality: American Music, the Yearbook of the Inter-American Institute for Musical Research and the Inter-American Music Bulletin.Google Scholar
  21. Contemporaneous periodicals offer a rich spectrum of opinions and aesthetics. The two best-known are Source: Music of the Avant-Garde and Perspectives of New Music [PNM]; articles from the latter were reprinted in two collections edited by B. Boretz and E. T. Cone: Perspectives on American Composers (New York, 1971)Google Scholar
  22. and Perspectives on Contemporary Music Theory (New York, 1972).Google Scholar
  23. For a representative picture, however, these journals should be supplemented with others like Soundings (whose editor, P. Garland, also produced important occasional volumes), The Composer (California; not to be confused with the British periodical Composer), Numus West, and the Proceedings of the American Society of University Composers. Many other periodicals presented special issues on contemporary music during the 1960s; often overlooked and especially valuable are the November 1968 issue of Music Educator’s Journal, devoted entirely to electronic music, and the 1970 special issue of Arts in Society, edited by G. Chase and called Sounds and Events of Today’s Music.Google Scholar
  24. Arguably the best sources are the composers themselves. Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, ed. E. Schwartz and B. Childs (New York, 1976),Google Scholar
  25. continued in the tradition of The American Composer Speaks, ed. G. Chase (Baton Rouge, 1966).Google Scholar
  26. Two important collections of interviews are C. Gagny and T. Caras, Soundpieces: Interviews with American Composers (Metuchen, NJ, 1982)Google Scholar
  27. and W. Zimmermann, Desert Plants (Vancouver, 1976).Google Scholar
  28. Books and articles by composers are far too numerous to be fairly represented here; an interesting sample might include, for entirely different reasons: R. Reynolds, Mind Models: New Forms of Musical Experience (New York, 1975);Google Scholar
  29. G. Rochberg, The Aesthetics of Survival: a Composer’s View of Twentieth-Century Music (Ann Arbor, 1984);Google Scholar
  30. R. Murray Schafer, The Tuning of the World (New York, 1977);Google Scholar
  31. J. Tenney, Meta + Hodos: a Phenomenology of 20th-century Music and an Approach to the Study of Form (New Orleans, 1964/R 1990);Google Scholar
  32. B.Johnston, ‘On Context’, Proceedings [of the American Society of University Composers] (1968);Google Scholar
  33. and S. Reich, Writings about Music (New York, 1974).Google Scholar
  34. Babbitt’s writings, surprisingly, have not been anthologized; a complete bibliography appears in PNM, xv/1 (1976), which is devoted to Babbitt’s work, and a recent series of lectures by the composer has been published as Words about Music, ed. S. Dembski and J. N. Straus (Madison, 1987).Google Scholar
  35. Cage has written, contributed to or been interviewed in hundreds of publications; his first book, Silence (Middletown, Conn., 1961), remains a starting-point for (some would say the death of) postwar music in the Americas.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Brooks

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations