?¨Concertos of Deliverance"


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everything in which you can hear electric guitars (the most horrible sound in the universe).

I love the electric guitar. It's not the instrument, it's the player. The electric guitar can be used for beauty or for noise. Wes Montgomery played an electric guitar.

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The reason that I hate it so much is that in our society it's nearly impossible to escape that kind of 'music'. What other people do in their bedrooms is their business, but why must they make such a noise in open-air performances so that you can hear it many kilometers away? Or why have I to endure it in nearly every supermarket or shopping centre. Not to mention those idiot car drivers with their Boom! Boom! Boom! noises which can be heard already several blocks away. That other people have a horrible taste is no problem, but that I have to endure the acoustic pollution that they produce is a problem.

In Holland they do that too? (Horrors.) You've just destroyed my image of Holland. ;-)

Ellen

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Liszt's version of Erlkönig is an impressive virtuoso piece, but it doesn't give you the goose pimples you get from the original version.

"Das Kind es tot."

(I'm afraid I might have misspelled even that simple a German sentence. Correct as needed, please. About the effect though, I know what you mean.)

Ellen

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I used to be a terrible snob about popular music. What led me to it was a preliminary examination for a book I wanted to write years ago. The working title was "Music Epistemology."

As all good inductors, I started by looking at the culture. What I came up with is the following:

1. Nobody forces anybody to plunk down their bucks for popular music.

2. It is an industry that moves billions of dollars.

3. The appeal of the standard fare is in practically all countries where radios are available.

I concluded that whatever I may like or dislike about it, this music serves a very real demand deeply rooted in human nature that cuts across cultures. The observable evidence was too clear to ignore. So I concluded that it would be a good idea to try to learn about what inner need was met and why.

As I was well versed in classical music, I started by arrogantly trying to write a popular song as if this would be the easiest thing in the world. I fell flat on my face. (Want to try that one, Dragonfly? It's a hell of an eye-opener. btw - I actually sympathize with your feelings.)

I did come up with some interesting findings and maybe I just might write that book someday. And I also learned how to write songs. (I even paid my bills for 2 full years writing 2 songs a year. And these weren't even very good songs - I have since written much better.)

Roger, I must have read The Language of Music by Cooke about 5 times years ago. It's a shame it is out of print. It was an amazing study of the correspondence between Wagner's lyrics and the leitmotifs he used to depict the emotions in them. When you talk about the books you have read, you take me back. It seems that we have read many of the same things.

Speaking about lyrics, a song of course can exist without the words, but if you look at the market once again, you see that music that is sung has far greater appeal than instrumental music (popular music, not classical). Since this appeal is 100% voluntary and completely dictated by people buying it or not, the inevitable conclusion is that the words are extremely important to a song in terms of the total impact.

As a lyric writer, I would state the the most important part of any lyric is the "hook." How many people can sing "Night and day, you are the one," and then not be able to continue, for instance? They get the first part right, but they don't have all of the words down. Or how about "Born in the USA"? The most you remember after not hearing it for years is "long-gone daddy in the USA."

The rest of the words are just not that important to the primary impact. But getting a decent hook together is. A hook wedded to a memorable melody is something that penetrates all the way down in the human psyche.

Now, for a last comment: opera and classical music. Barbara, your experiences are simply marvelous. I would go one step further, though. I would state that the full impact of opera, or any great classical music, is inside a theater with the lights turned off. (It's like the difference between watching a movie in a theater or on TV.) There's something about a proscenium with proper lighting that opens the doors to the deep hidden places of the soul and lets the music touch that place. (Theater-in-the-round is OK, but its impact on opening these inner doors doesn't even come close to a proscenium.)

The experience of seeing a lone figure on stage in a highly dramatic setting with Puccini's gorgeous music filling the theater and the voice in the middle of all that is something so special that you can only describe it by experiencing it first-hand, then pointing to it and saying, "This is what I mean." Have you noticed that Puccini rarely has the voice carry the full melody at his climaxes? He gets to a point where the orchestra takes over and the voice seems to make a comment on the act of living itself right in the middle of all that beauty.

I better not get started as this will go on for pages...

Michael

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Ellen,

Oh no!!!! The kid died! (Here's the correct phrase): "In seinen Armen das Kind war tot!" (In his arms the child was dead!)

I studied Die Schöne Müllerin in college. Some of it was cool, but I found some of it boring back then. (It's a trombone thing...)

Now it occurs to me that the child might have starved to death!

//;-))

(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Michael

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Michael:

(Want to try that one, Dragonfly? It's a hell of an eye-opener. btw - I actually sympathize with your feelings.)

No, that is so far removed from my world that I've absolutely no aspirations in that direction. But I have been working on a small piano piece that I wanted to be deliberately banal (calling it banalité nr. 1 or something like that, a bit like Poulenc...). The funny thing is that I almost automatically start to make Rondo-like variations on the banal theme, whereby the piece loses its banal character; it's like "the simplest thing in the world"... Sometimes it is just the banal themes that can be inspiring in that regard (think of Mozart's Ah vous dirai-je maman variations, Beethoven's Diabelli variations).

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Dragonfly says:

"everything in which you can hear electric guitars (the most horrible sound in the universe)."

I'm sorry, but with all respect, that is a reprehensible or at least uninformed statement. Them's fighting words, where I come from, Dragonfly!

State your premises, my friend, and maybe I can help what is a malignant misconception.

Here, let me help you out a bit. The electric guitar (and its ancillary equipment) is one of the most intricate, sensitive, expressive pieces of musical gear ever integrated into the musical world.

Do you think my handmade Vigier Arpege electric guitar (Patrice Vigier, Paris) surely makes horrible sounds under my hands? I spent thirty five years of dilligent, disciplined practice and study, combined with real life performance experience to do what I can do with an instrument like that. I and any other self-respecting guitarist doesn't fiddle faddle about with a four-thousand-dollar instrument just so I can make "horror". I make crystal clear tones, lovingly treated with various shades from the digital domain, Dragonfly. I spent hours just getting one singing legato-friendly tone for solos.

I spend open-ended time developing guitar and synthesis hybrid sounds so I can expand my writing pallette and make lush tones.

In the hands of a seasoned professional, the electric guitar simply transcends. The electric guitar can jack you into the universe in a way few other things can.

And no, it does not mean I lean or rely upon electronica rather than talent. It means I have enough handle on things to do what only electronica can do.

Can't believe you said that, I just can't.

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I knew I would trigger someone...

Rich, I'm ready to believe that you can make wonderful sounds with your guitar. Alas, I never hear that kind of sounds in practice, and what I do hear I find really horrible and grating on my nerves. Blame your colleagues!

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I used to have a record of Fritz Wunderlich singing Das Mullerin (sorry no umlaut on here), one of my favorites. Do you kids know what a record is? Like a big CD with grooves? Usually black but sometimes red and other colors? I don't know where they are now, but the other side had Shumann's Dichterliebe (poet's love), also wonderful.

BTW fusing word to music perhaps even more than Schubert was Hugo Wolf.

David

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I knew I would trigger someone...

Rich, I'm ready to believe that you can make wonderful sounds with your guitar. Alas, I never hear that kind of sounds in practice, and what I do hear I find really horrible and grating on my nerves. Blame your colleagues!

You find this "horrible and grating"? http://mfile.akamai.com/12856/wm2/muze.dow....asx?obj=v10402 (Wes Montgomery)

or this? http://mfile.akamai.com/12856/wm2/muze.dow....asx?obj=v50606 (Eric Johnson)

or this? http://mfile.akamai.com/12856/wm2/muze.dow....asx?obj=v10207 (Steve Khan)

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Dragonfly, that reply is simply basic prejudice, pigeonholing.

Does that mean that every asshole on the road is my colleague because we all share the commonality of driving a motorcar?

Here's a few masters, off the top of my head. it might lighten your load:

John McLaughlin

Allan Holdsworth

Jeff Beck

Robert Fripp

Adrian Belew

The Edge

Carlos Santana

B.B. King

Steve Vai

Shall I go on with the minions? They are legion, my friend.

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And while I'm at it, let's dig into this little Randian nightmare:

"The products of anti-rational, anti-cognitive "Progressive" education, the hippies, are reverting to the music and the drumbeat of the jungle."

This is about one step away from a KKK meeting.

For the longest time, I had done a 180 and was in total agreement with Rand's essay on Woodstock (The Objectivist? I have the original, forget which issue it is in). But, this is once again a vivid illustration of black/white, baby-with-the-bathwater nonsense.

In the Woodstock essay, the glaring omission is any understanding (hence lack of mention, having been dumped with the bathwater) of the artists that performed there, and what their work meant.

Was Woodstock a logistical nightmare? Was it drug-soaked? Hell yes. There were a lot of not-so-good elements to it. And there was a lot of beauty to be had. Much more so than the later edition, where the Zeitgeist was a very different one, and a bunch of animals started everything on fire.

But let's get back to this whole tribal jungle beat thing. To say that kind of stuff shows one thing and one thing only: a complete blank out in the area of music history and fundamentals. A complete blank out as to what global music means. What rhythm is, where it came from; a non-understanding of the when and wheres and whys of playing from the hips as well as the head and the heart.

Rhythmatic-based music is not inferior. Ever seen something like a 24-measure Adi Tala cycle? The intricacies involved in Afro-rhythm? What is embedded in so much jazz?

Sorry, Rachmaninoff is lovely, but there are other fish in the sea.

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  • 2 months later...

there is a song, that for me comes close to what i imagined haley's concerto might be: Funeral for a Friend, by elton john (it's great, right up to the part where he opens his mouth- if you cut that off and fade it out nicely, you get an awesome concerto!) i don't like the author, but i love this work he did.

the hammond organ splits the earth and the ascension after the victory is glorious. i don't listen to it too much lest it lose it's power for me.

it elicits fairly specific 'visions' in my imagination- probably, at root, from associations installed from watching cartoons on saturday morning that formed my earliest associations with music to physical action or emotional state of little animals...lol

you might like it if you try it, though.

on the other hand, nobody likes a 3 am inquisition on his psychoepistemology just cuz he likes a beethoven tune. that's a song and dance that might properly be called malignant.

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  • 4 months later...
Have you heard John Mills-Cockell's Concerto of Deliverance? I haven't heard it yet. I have read mixed comments about it and there seems to be some kind of controversy involving a guy named Monart Pon, who produced it I think.

From the description Rand gave of Richard Halley's work in Atlas Shrugged, I have always associated the "rising" with the melody of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's 4th Piano Concerto, which is practically a scale going up. I like this work very much, but then I sometimes like the more difficult works of great composers. For instance, I like Sibelius's 7th Symphony a great deal, yet his 2nd Symphony is his warhorse.

Hi Michael,

John Mills-Cockell's Concerto of Deliverance can be heard in excerpts on the web here:

http://www.starshipaurora.com/concertoofdeliverance.html

From my sampling of those excerpts. I was not impressed. Moreover, I think the composer is trying to capitalize on the name oF Ayn Rand to further his marketing of his own music.

My own impression of the music is that it's minimalist in some ways, and lacks the uplifting qualities that I envisioned when I tried to imagine what Rand had in mind.

The Prelude was like a Russian waltz, but seemed marred by a superfluous use of synthesizers over the acoustic intruments. All in all, this piece was one of the better of the bunch.

The Gathering seemed to lack real melody and has an anapestic beat, or emphasis on counterbeat, much the way rock music does.

Departure at Dawn seemed to be dragging out a sense of anticipation but never delivering a climax.

Trio has a more theatrical tension to it, and as such seems more interesting, but some added rhythms later in the piece seem extraneous.

Wolfskin on the Fire is a little short to really place into context, but it didn't fit the image of a symphony of deliverance.

You'll Find Me again seemed to have mediocre melody and sometimes had the sense of life of some of the "New Age" music common today.

Overall, the performance was mechanical and uninspiring. The orchestra's skills, particularly the 1st violinist, seemed mediocre to me. These works are rather simple, unsophisticated and boring, in my humble opinion.

I have heard MUCH more ebuliant and uplifting music from Japan.

Wasn't there an Objectivist estheticist by the name of Rukovina (I can remember my father mentioning a name like Anna, but it may be Mary Ann Rukovina that he was referring to) who did an in-depth course on the philosophical meaning of music and how to evaluate music in that realm?

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Mark --

At the 2005 TOC summer seminar, Doug Wagoner gave an evening talk on "what might Halley's concerto have sounded like?" He chose three 20th century piano concerti and analyzed them: Prokofieff's third, Vaughan Williams's only, and one of Hanson's (I forget which). It was a fascinating evening -- I had real trouble getting to sleep afterwards! If the subject interests you, I'm sure you could order a CD of Doug's talk from the TOC website.

Judith

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Michael: "How many people can sing "Night and day, you are the one," and then not be able to continue, for instance? They get the first part right, but they don't have all of the words down."

"Night and day, you are the one,

Only you beneath the moon and under the sun,

Whether nearer to me or far,

It's no diffenent darling where you are,

I think of you, night and day."

So there!

You wrote: "I would state that the full impact of opera, or any great classical music, is inside a theater with the lights turned off. There's something about a proscenium with proper lighting that opens the doors to the deep hidden places of the soul and lets the music touch that place."

I agree. I will never forget the first time I saw"Tristan and Isolde" at the old Met. Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior appeared on the stage, and at first I felt disappointment; they did not act, as singers until Callas did not, and between the two of them I was looking at close to 450 pounds of people. But when they began to sing, suddenly I was seeing two beautiful young lovers singing gloriously of their passion for each other. From then on, I could see them no other way. And that night they did indeed touch "the deep hidden places of [my] soul."

It's often seemed strange to me that the three composers whose music consistently reaches me as no other music quite does, are Wagner, Chopin, and Puccini. It would be difficult to imagine composers more different from one another, yet I feel, as with the writers I love best, that each of them reaches into my deepest being, I often feel that they are me.

Barbara

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Judith,

Thanks for that suggestion.

I have thought about this topic from time to time, and just this evening, I was listening to a renderng I did last year of Camille Saint-saens' "Symphony Nr 3 (Organ)" where in the Molto Allegro had that triumphant, powerful, uplifting sense of life, so rare in French music. I listened to it again this evening and realized that it fit very well, right from the stunning appearance of the organ, in all it's grandeur, followed by the almost systematic expansion of the theme in the answer phrase played by the orchestra. It is majestic, classical, yet romantic. And it makes me feel good.

That is perhaps my favorite European composer and this symphony one of the greatest ever written.

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Barbara,

It had to be you...

:)

I love Cole Porter's lyrics. It is very difficult to change a word in them without feeling something is off. They are actually little gems of light poetry. Not many song lyrics stand up like that.

I wonder what an opera libretto by him would have been like--at least the arias.

Mark,

I listened to the samples of "Concerto of Deliverance" and my mouth dropped open. I expected anything but this. (Thanks for the link. One comment on your comments. The first song--I'm sorry, I can't call it a "movement," it's a song--is a tango, not a Russian waltz. I imagine this is a musical reference to Francisco d'Anconia since tango is an Argentinean style. I don't see Francisco dancing that one, though.)

I am terribly conflicted on making any comment at all because Pon invested his savings and severance pay (as he stated in the comments) to commission and produce this CD--and he did it out of love for Rand. That is a wonderful thing to do and I don't want to be a person to to spit in another's soup.

But I really wish Pon had chosen a different composer and gotten some pre-production advice. The idea of stringing some songs together and calling that a "Concerto" really stretches the concept beyond meaning. These songs sound more like incidental background music (like for supermarkets, elevators, etc.) than for the concert theater. I don't mean that to insult the work, but I can't really place it anywhere else. Maybe a soundtrack to a family entertainment-type film.

As light songs or popular music-type tunes, they are neither good nor bad. There is nothing special about them at all that I could hear. They are pleasant, but easily forgettable.

You are right about the performance. It could be a whole lot better. I will leave it at that and not go into detail out of respect for Pon's effort.

I don't know much music by John Mills-Cockell, but I didn't find this work to be anything I would want to listen to--Rand or no Rand.

I have a comment on the use of Rand's written description of Dagny's reaction to Halley's concerto for Atlas Shrugged as inspiration. Some of the more orthodox Objectivists reacted as if this project were a moral outrage. I have no issue with taking the title of a musical work from a book. There is nothing dishonest (as was accused) and the idea to make such a tribute to Rand is a charming one.

I do see a problem of providing Muzak-type music as a tribute to that passage, though. The project comes off as a terrible misfire and it runs the risk of falling into the ridiculous. Several very intelligent Objectivists wrote long reviews trying to provide some intellectual justifications for this and that, but after I heard the samples, this came off to me as helping out a friend and trying to make up in words for what was not there in the music.

My feeling is that I applaud the interest, effort, financing and intentions. As to the result, I think it is a damn shame it turned out that way.

Michael

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I have a comment on the use of Rand's written description of Dagny's reaction to Halley's concerto for Atlas Shrugged as inspiration. Some of the more orthodox Objectivists reacted as if this project were a moral outrage. I have no issue with taking the title of a musical work from a book. There is nothing dishonest (as was accused) and the idea to make such a tribute to Rand is a charming one.

I do see a problem of providing Muzak-type music as a tribute to that passage, though. The project comes off as a terrible misfire and it runs the risk of falling into the ridiculous. Several very intelligent Objectivists wrote long reviews trying to provide some intellectual justifications for this and that, but after I heard the samples, this came off to me as helping out a friend and trying to make up in words for what was not there in the music.

My feeling is that I applaud the interest, effort, financing and intentions. As to the result, I think it is a damn shame it turned out that way.

Michael

Ditto to your sentiments, Michael.

Ellen

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Wasn't there an Objectivist estheticist by the name of Rukovina (I can remember my father mentioning a name like Anna, but it may be Mary Ann Rukovina that he was referring to) who did an in-depth course on the philosophical meaning of music and how to evaluate music in that realm?

Mary Ann Rukavina (later Mary Ann Sures) gave a course on the aesthetics of painting. It was Allan Blumenthal who gave a course on music, in the mid-70s. The course was later revised and includes portions by Joan Blumenthal on the art-historical context of the various musical styles. You can find information about this course in the Roger Bissell corner.

Ellen

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I, too, echo Michael's sentiments about John Cockrell-Mills' "Concerto of Deliverance."

Several years ago, I wrote quite a bit about this piece, most of my comments being posted on Monart Pons' website. (He was the producer/financier of the COD.) I may eventually put together my remarks in single-essay form (though I'm not sure I want to re-flog that dead horse), but in the meantime, they can be accessed by going to the website at this address:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Concerto_Deliverance/

Suffice it to say that I think it is neither a concerto, nor obviously presenting the theme of deliverance. It is a somewhat charming chamber music suite, written in a New Age-ish (rather than Classical or Romantic) style. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing particularly inspiring either, IMO.

Best to all,

REB

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Roger,

I went through some of the comments on that forum. I felt your pain at trying to explain the obvious without wanting to denigrate the intent. The plain fact is that the music is mediocre in content and execution. Rand's writing is not. The music is mediocre even if it were called something else, but contrasted against Rand's exalted and highly competent writing only emphasizes its mediocrity.

You just called it a "somewhat charming chamber music suite." I sympathize with your generosity of spirit, but I cannot call a few disconnected tracks slapped together in studio "chamber music." (Maybe we can coin the phrase "echo chamber music"? :) )

There would be real problems trying to do this live as recorded. For example, the small choral piece that was provided in the sample was merely the same person recorded over and over, singing differently each time to make it sound like a lot of people. I could go through what I heard and point out many things of this nature (especially a heavy-handed reliance on factory prerecorded effects patches) since I used these techniques in pop music to save on budget.

When I kept hearing the term "New Age" given to this work, I always imagined something like Yanni (20 minutes of simple C major tinkling). Now Yanni's music could make a chamber music suite because you can perform his stuff in public. When I listen to Yanni and listen to this work, I don't hear enough similarities to classify them as the same style (New Age). That goes for several other New Age artists I have heard.

Maybe I am being grumpy because of the disappointment of expecting to hear an attempt at greatness, even a gloriously failed on, and hearing something mediocre instead. (To be clear, Pon's intent was not mediocre, but the music was, from initial concept to final product. The composer was jiving all the way.)

On the other forum, I was surprised at the friction with Carolyn Ray. I have read some of her stuff and I always thought of her highly. It was disappointing to see nastiness.

Michael

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