Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century

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Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century

Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century

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Injustice plays a part in many tales, including the life of Ruth Crawford Seeger, mother of the acclaimed folk musician and singer-songwriter Peggy, with whom Molleson spends a fascinating, revelatory day. The first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for her work and an innovative modernist composer, Crawford Seeger’s talents were constantly disregarded by her husband, who was formerly her teacher. “He wasn’t nearly as good as she was,” Peggy says, bluntly. Consonant-vowel (CV) pattern: This pattern begins with a consonant followed by a vowel, creating many different phonotactic combinations. Molleson has employed her expert knowledge and refined perspective in selecting which ten artists to include in what, in less discerning hands, could have been an unwieldy, daunting tome. She has chosen ‘ten beautifully messy, confounding, brave, outrageous, original and charismatic composers’. Each one of these elegantly written biographical essays describes a remarkable, singular, creative life, strewn with political, social and domestic obstacles. They describe a fierce commitment to their art, a refusal to compromise and a determination to write whatever music they pleased. They are wonderful characters, if apparently not all easy people to get along with. It introduces us to thrilling dreamers from the last century who believed that music could fundamentally – and disruptively – recalibrate our lives. In Mexico, we meet Julián Carrillo, the youngest of an indigenous family of 19, who becomes a composer obsessed with the possibilities of microscopic intervals between tones (in layperson’s terms, the many tiny gradations of sound between two notes on a keyboard). Main article: Speed of sound U.S. Navy F/A-18 approaching the speed of sound. The white halo is formed by condensed water droplets thought to result from a drop in air pressure around the aircraft (see Prandtl–Glauert singularity). [12]

Sound waves are often simplified to a description in terms of sinusoidal plane waves, which are characterized by these generic properties:


We see a letter Crawford Seeger sent to her brother in 1945: “all during the house-cleaning I was thinking of the books I might be working on”, she writes. She became an internationally respected transcriber and arranger of traditional songs, but didn’t write another modernist piece until 1952; she died a year later of cancer. Consonant clusters: These multi-consonant patterns can occur at the onset, nucleus, or coda positions in a syllable.

Coda clusters: Coda clusters are consonant sequences found at the end of a syllable. Some familiar coda clusters include "st" in "lust" or "ft" in "loft". As with onset clusters, certain combinations are not allowed, like "bd" or "gt".Classical music, she argues, desperately needs diversity to survive: “Stagnation will be the death of any living art form… healthy musical culture depends on who’s playing, who’s listening, who’s genuinely impacted.” To help this mission along, Sound Within Sound takes us on a whirlwind international tour. Onset clusters: These are consonant clusters that occur at the beginning of a syllable. Certain combinations are allowed in English, such as "pr" in "prey" and "tr" in "tree". However, others are not permitted, like "tl" or "zb". Sound is transmitted through gases, plasma, and liquids as longitudinal waves, also called compression waves. It requires a medium to propagate. Through solids, however, it can be transmitted as both longitudinal waves and transverse waves. Longitudinal sound waves are waves of alternating pressure deviations from the equilibrium pressure, causing local regions of compression and rarefaction, while transverse waves (in solids) are waves of alternating shear stress at right angle to the direction of propagation. Transverse waves, also known as shear waves, have the additional property, polarization, and are not a characteristic of sound waves. Kate Molleson is a distinguished teacher, journalist and broadcaster whose New Music Show on Radio 3 is a crucial component of that station’s gradual and, some may say, long overdue policy of embracing a more inclusive, global concept of what could be termed modern classical music. Think jazz, electronic music, improvisational music, folk, classical, experimental, noise, and combinations thereof. Molleson is a passionate advocate for this more expansive definition of classical music and, as this important and engrossing book establishes, she is particularly engaged in extolling the work and telling the stories of the many composers from around the world whose music has been side-lined, undervalued and ommitted from the mainstream histories. Of the ten composers whose work is discussed here, all were born in the first four decades of the twentieth century and seven are no longer with us. Because their work was adventurous, rule-breaking, often extreme and because they weren’t either white, male, privileged, European, American or born in the right place at the right time, they have never been fully accepted as part of the mainstream narrative of contemporary classical music. As such, this is not only an important book but an ear-opener, a revelation and a portal to another world. A world in which music has an anarchic, organic quality that defies categorization, where music has no boundaries and restrictions, stylistically and geographically, both in form and execution, where innovation and complexity and rigorous musical disciplines work together to stretch and embellish our understanding of what music can be.

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