Glenn Gould: Dialogues on the Prospects of Recording


Marshall McLuhan: The supermarket is a wonderful area where music is used in most non-musical way for creating new kinds
of participation. One of the phrases used in muzak circles is to say, “we don’t
play music, we play programming.” Now the supermarkets are typically deluged
with the sounds of popular romantic melodies and dances of 20-25 years
earlier, when the well-heeled matron was a young gal. She prances about with
her buggy in the supermarket to the sounds that she romanticised to in her
youth. And she’s quite unaware of this, except as a delightful situation which
completely melts all resistance to canned goods. Canned music and canned goods meet in a wonderful new way. Schuyler Chapin: House music: that marvellous thing that gave us so much of our chamber music literature, and still is something that
that causes me to walk miles in order to participate or to listen. I think we’re
seeing a return to house music. I see this with my own children. I see it with
with friends’ children, where a new interest in music has has been
brought to bear, brought to life by virtue of this mechanical reproduction. unidentified speaker: I think we all of course one way or another strive for immortality, either through children, or through public
performance of the music, but the fact that it is quite possible that
eventually all human experience and emotion might be simulated, either chemically or psychologically (Brave New World kind of thing), I think shouldn’t alter our effort to
avoid this. There’s a kind of dehumanising quality, and the eventual prospects will be faced with the perfection of of reproduction,
mechanical reproduction of records, or even human reproduction for that matter,
that I think is terribly frightening and I think that when this moment comes,
humanity will be ready for the floods again, we’ll be ready for
self-destruction. Robert Offergeld: I’m working in the field of
communication at a magazine – a music communication instrument. I always
remember that people who read magazines are people who listen to records, who go to
art galleries. They must have something that the professional, by the nature of
his inner direction of his work, does not need. Barbarism never sleeps. We no
longer have invasions across frontiers of Barbarians, we have them coming up
from below. Vertical mass. The effort in all communication media is constantly to
lower and vulgarise the tone. I hope the theatre artist stays enough in the
marketplace to keep his tone high. If your movie becomes too private, if it becomes too isolated, he leaves my audience because he knows that all communications
people pretty much in the dark. I hope this doesn’t happen. Diana Menuhin: If music was in the studio can produce something that recreates itself in terms of something fresh for the listener, but
then you’re always running a great risk. You’ve got them in the concert hall, you’ve
got them there, and they’ve jolly well got to behave, and if you want to be like Schnabel, you can say, “stop coughing.” But if you’ve got them where you don’t know, in
their own drawing room, living room, kitchen sinks, scratching their heads,
picking their teeth, and talking through the music, how are you ever going to reach
them? This is the only benefit of the concert hall: you’ve got them there in down
like butterflies in tails, and then I’m not going to do what you don’t want them
to do. When you’re reaching across a microphone I know what I would do. I would have some
kind of paralytic fluid that would pin them down. It would come from the screen, it would come from whatever the old – what do they call those things where, you know, air
waves – I’m so bad about machines. I don’t know what they do – and pin them there, and
they’d have to listen. Paul Myers: Recordings offer two possibilities. One is to record
the word project for austerity, the best performances by the
greatest artists of the particular time, and this is to me the most essential side of
recording. But I think that another side of recording has been rather overlooked
today, and that is that records can be a medium
of entertainment starting from within themselves. Now
whether or not one liked those records which introduced a thing called ping-pong sound in stereo, where the sound jumps from one speaker to another, they were designed as
entertainment for the general public looking for popular music. The same
really applies to the sing-along series. Sing along was designed for records, for
people who wanted to sit at home and sing along with those songs. It was
original as an idea, and it was really I think designed for records only, and it worked. John Hammond: They worked for an astonishing length of time. It was something like
four years. Of course, you can’t give them away now, but they sold something like nine million of these albums. Harry Mannis: Dialogue on the Prospects of Recording. One hour and 25 minutes of fervent conviction and furious debate about
recordings and the modern world. Provoked, written and narrated by Glenn Gould. Taped, spliced, tweetered and woofered by
Irving Glick. Featuring the candidly miked and
callously edited opinions of Schuyler Chapin, Ludwig Diehn, John Hammond, Marshall McLuhan, Paul Myers, Diana Menuhin, and Robert Offergeld. With the unwitting musical presence of Lukas Foss, Dick Raaymakers, Frank Martin, Henri Pousseur, and Igor Stravinsky. All of whose royalty accounts will be
accordingly enriched as, but for the ravages of time and the inconsistencies
of ASCAP, would be that of Ludwig van Beethoven. Glenn Gould: That marvellous performance of Beethoven’s eighth Symphony was recorded thirty years ago in Vienna by the late
Felix Weingartner. For at least half of those years, since I was a teenager and
first made its acquaintance, it has for me eclipsed all other performances of
that work. It’s become the yardstick against which I measure all others that
I hear. Recordings do that. They insinuate themselves into our judgements and into
our lives. They’re capable of giving the people who make them – the engineers, the
artists who perform on them, and more recently the composers who write with
them in mind, an awesome power with which to influence the lives of those
who listen to them. And this is a power which was simply not available to any
earlier generation of musicians. It’s a power uniquely responsive to the
electronic technology of our day, and it’s this power that we examine tonight. We cannot describe the condition of our culture without taking into
consideration the media through which its products are made available. In the
last half century, electronic media have drastically altered the effect of music
upon our society. Music surrounds us today as it has never done before. Music
comes out of speakers in our homes, and in our cars. Music provides background
for the images on our television screens, helping those images sell us
things which we know we don’t need. Music is piped into restaurants to relieve us
of the nuisance of conversation; into public places to make us less riot prone;
into elevators to make us less claustrophobic. Music, it seems, is
calculated to complement an enormous range of activity, and to provide an
emotional backdrop against which we can play out our lives. Well, if we were to
take inventory of those musical predilections that are most
characteristic of our generation, we would discover, I think, that
most every item on such a list could be attributed, in some degree at least, to
the influence of the recording. First of all, our generation values a sound of
great clarity, immediacy, almost tactile proximity: a sound that was neither
available to, nor wanted by, the musical profession or public of two generations
ago. Within a few brief decades, music has ceased to be an experience separated
from life, and accorded, when encountered, an almost religious devotion. Music has
become so pervasive an influence in our lives, that, as our dependence upon it has
increased, our reverence for it has perhaps declined. Our grandfathers’
generation preferred that their occasional experience of music be fitted
with an acoustic halo, cavernously reverberant, if possible, perhaps to
resemble the cathedral-like sound which the architects of that day tried to
capture for the concert hall, the cathedral of the symphony. But the more
intimate terms of our musical experience have compelled us to develop an acoustic
which is a direct and impartial presence, and with which we can live on rather
more casual terms than was possible in earlier times. Here’s a sound that has
something to do with the musical persuasion of the present: It was recorded in a large studio which
is, as a matter of fact, a converted church, but for the purposes of that recording
the largeness of the studio was immaterial. The microphone was placed
very close to the instrument, and was not, as is sometimes the case, given backing
in depth by microphones placed at greater distance from the recording area
and left open simultaneously. Every effort was made with that recording to
cultivate an acoustic of extreme intimacy, so that the frame of sound
which would accompany the piano on to disc would very much resemble the
acoustic in which it would most likely be replayed by the person who buys the
recording: the acoustic of the living room. Here’s another recording of a piano in
which quite different ideals prevail here the microphones are obviously at a
great distance from the instrument perhaps to avoid intruding their
physical presence upon the performer and thus disturbing him and his audience because this recording was not made in
acoustically controlled and perhaps rather hermetic studio but in a public
concert hall and it’s quite clear from the sound of this recording of the
artist and his instrument can be placed on a rather lofty pedestal in the
presence of the bishop in this case the audience those two recordings the first
was made in New York in 1960 and the second was made in Sofia Bulgaria and
also in 1960 but the initiative of their producers and engineers is directed in
each case we’ve got a very different aim the first recording aim to find a niche
in the intimacy of the home the second aim to evoke the memory of a concert
experience and make it available for a listener at home
and the philosophies behind those two recordings are as different as the
historical geographical sociological circumstances of the cultures from which
they came the New York recording was aware of a public that to an
extraordinary extent had discovered music because of the recording the
Bulgarian recording was concerned with pleasing the public which had grown up
with and presumably wished to be reminded of the proper sound of music
and the public at a trial the New York recording assumed an interest in a sound
experience more or less indigenous to the media of recording because of the
proximity of its mechanical years it could analyze and fragment the sound
that was being transmitted the Bulgarian recording made no such assumption is
that who the great pains to refrain from analysis and it’s subtly to capture as
best it could are of the original experience in the New York recording the
men in the booth presiding over the session were crucial to the success of
the session their concept of the sound appropriate to the music being performed
and of the way in which the microphone could dissect for the listener aspects
of performance required not only good judgment and
musical sensitivity but a primary faith in the medium itself the Bulgarian crew
offstage in the wings I guess of some Palace of municipal amusement made no
such claims for the autonomy of their craft they suddenly to pursue it as an
inconspicuous complement of performance the making of a recording is a very
precise and a very complicated operation and with each year it becomes more
complicated as new mechanical procedure made available to the recording studio
records are made under the supervision of producers who normally consult with
the artists who are involved with them both in regard to planning the repertory
which will be recorded and to some degree at least in regard to the way in
which it should be done in the earlier days of the recording industry the
producer was very much the valet of the artists very much more anonymous than he
is today the present-day producer is Park impresario he usually undertakes to
establish a long-range plan about the sort of repertoire that the artist
intends to record he’s also part technical engineer since he must define
the objectives of sound which he feels to be pertinent to the particular
project and the acoustical objectives of the recording are as variable as the
temperaments of the individuals involved in general one can say though that the
present ideal of recorded sound in North America leans toward a reproduction of
precise definition and of great analytic clarity in Central Europe on the other
hand many producers and technicians still prefer that more ambiguous even
cavernous sound since they’re persuaded that their audience is an older a more
traditional public which looks to the recording as a supplement of experiences
in the concert hall there can be no doubt though that the present trend
toward a sound of extreme definition is dominant in the recording field and that
the possibility of such sounds has exercised a tremendous influence both on
the manner of performance and in some cases on the manner of composing many
contemporary compositional techniques of a great deal to this highly analytic
disposition of the microphone Paul Meyers is a young recording producer who
was greatly enthused about the possibilities indigenous to the medium
like many of his generation he views the recording as entirely separate from the
concert experience and he’s determined to uncover ways through which its
separateness its autonomy can be utilized my only reaction is the
Oh electronic equipment should be used as a tool to achieve whatever result you
want and that should this be a desire to achieve a harder attack and some and it
should be used and that we would be foolish to keep improving the technique
of recording and not to make use of it in any way that we want I think one of
the glories of music is that every performance is a little different and
that no no two conductors and little pianist will ever play at the same pace
exactly the same way and in the case of many artists they will play the same
piece slightly differently on each different occasion this is what makes
music so interesting and this is why many people listen to it and I would see
no crime in having a performance of a Beethoven’s Symphony with a clapper of
first movement a movement a carry on second movement a Toscanini third
movement in the gorge self finale I think this is a quite justifiable thing
to do because I think we should get away as much as possible from the edge of the
personality in the assumption that because so-and-so is a good musician he
is the only musician to play a particular work our real interest should
be in the music itself John Hammond who has been producing records since the
early 1930s takes a rather less optimistic view of the present acoustic
trends he believes that a concept of fidelity to the artist to the composer
and above all to the prior memory of the public listening experience should be
paramount well I feel that what has happened to recorded sound is something
that can be summed up in the word inflation I think the reasons for this
perhaps the Eagles of the artists I believe that the soloist while the
prides himself on being able to be heard over 100 pieces
that the delicate flute or the oboe love the English horn likes to feel that he
can you know he can and should be heard far more closely than the concert
audience will hear him in an orchestra in a string quartet very often nowadays
I’m sorry I decide for sorry to say four microphones are used what was stereo and
if you play back a string quartet recording you’ll see that the viola
player is standing by his speaker and the cellist by his and the person second
violin by theirs and they’re all very happy with what they hear in emphasizing
the parts you so often destroy the unity of the whole and my feeling is that people who are not musicians in
recording very often can take over the role the role of the musician that is
the engineer and some of our engineers a wonderful musician some know from
nothing about music some of our producers are good musicians some of our
producers are X tape editors it’s a matter of taste I suppose and my feeling
is that most recording by the major companies of symphony orchestras are so
cluttered with microphones and engineers are so careful to give equal importance
to all the voices that composers wishes are almost invariably flooded of course
as far as recorded sound is concerned there’s another great difficulty we have
in recording and that is that most engineers like to play back takes at a
superhuman volume popular artists love to hear this great
mass of sound of course there gets deadened and they can’t possibly hear
details this way but the ego is tremendously served you know one of the
saddest things that’s happened over the years and this is especially true of the
record critics or reviewers is that they play every record and they have
extremely expensive equipment costing $1,000 and up with controls which will
do practically everything except turn the record over and they never touched
them they play every record at exactly the same setting if a listener at home
would prefer to hear more travel and less bass there seems to be no reason in
the world why he shouldn’t use the dolls that have been put on his machine and I
think that we could welcome any machine that could slow down or speed up of
performance or change the sound which the homeless MEK could then alter
because he’s buying the music to entertain himself or to elevate himself
or whatever it is he should be able to hear music exactly the way he wants to
hear it the record companies cannot guess everybody’s tastes they should
produce the records to the taste of the artists since he is the person on the
cover of the album this should be his album but at the same time the listeners
should not feel restricted and should not feel that he must listen to it that
way merely because the artist wants it that way
calling back to this whole question of presence I’d like to go back some 35
years or so because as a child although I went to a lot of concerts I started
collecting records around 1924 and among the first records i ever collected with
those of the pianist waldo geese king nick around 1930 i heard music in the
flesh and his second american concept or and i was terribly disappointed when I
heard him in concert he was a very powerful man he had extremely small
nostrils and he snorted and I could never understand why the recordings
sounded so wonderful well we go to 1939 and I’m working for the American
Columbia company and for the very first time we were able to record visiting in
this country and I thought ah I’m going to get finally why he’s sucking sound
better on record when he does in the flesh
well when we were balancing for this date because of the snorts we found out
that we had to move the microphone further and further back and this was
done with mr. Gazoo Kings blessing and in fact I believe he said never was the
microphone less than less than 22 feet from the microphone actually I think our
it was 26 feet with us and we recorded the second book of Debussy Prelude and
there were no snow it’s the sound of the piano was absent was limpid was astareal
everything that guillotine sound was not in the concert hall well there’s another
thing that we’d have to add to our list of contemporary enthusiasms the
fantastic revival of Baroque music music of the early 18th century particularly
in the years following world war ii this extraordinary catalog of cantatas and
Conchata Grassi fumes and theatres which in the last 20 years particularly have
found their way from the recording studio to the listeners living room has
endowed the neo-baroque enthusiasm burrow bay with a hard core of musical
experience much of this music has then found its way back into the concert hall
and we engaged the attention of the public audience but it’s dumbness by
virtue of the recorded library of these works a library that enables them to be
studied in great number great privacy and in an acoustic which fits them to
the proverbial tee it may be that the cultivation of earlier literature like
that of the Baroque that has recommended itself to a substantial part of today’s
audience and professionals truth about matter as a means of avoiding some of
the problems inherent in the music of our own
there are so many similarities between the structural chemistries of Baroque
music and of the post tonal music of the 20th century that one can entertain a
reasonable suspicion that the Baroque Revival provides the sort of refuge for
those who find themselves displaced persons in frantically metamorphism
world of modern music be that as it may be ideas about the presentation of
Baroque music on recordings especially have a great deal to do with the way in
which we’ve learned to perceive and to analyze contemporary music the
analytical theories of such manners Arnold Schoenberg perhaps the leading
radical of music in the 20th century have become so influential that we often
apply them with some modification to our study of music from earlier times the
method of analysis which has developed from schanberg theories deals on the
whole with relationships so interior to the musical structure that only through
the intercession of electronic media can may be projected with an appropriate
definition and clarity schanberg own music provides a good illustration of
the way in which the recording can influence the interpretive intention it
can fairly be said that Shawn Berg’s music didn’t really come into its own
until the advent of the long playing record even today his music apart from
the earliest pieces are seldom given in cancer
but a large percentage of it has now been committed to records most of the orchestral music in the
schanberg Canon is being recorded under the Battle of the young American
conductors Robert Kraft and these recordings tell us a good deal about the
degree to which a performance prepared exclusively for the microphone could be
influenced by the technological achievement there’s a sample of
craftsmen dition of schanberg opus v his superb conformed elias and melly don here for contrast is part of the same
section from the same work performed in a recording made in 1949 by Binford
silic and the Frankfurt Orchestra we’re craft applied a sculptors chisel
to that vast orchestral complex and gave it a determined series of plateaus and
which to operate rhythmically and harmonically which is a very baroque
thing to do Billings performance seems cut up and fine laughter of a job is a
much more romantic conception and craft but more than a temperamental contrast
between the two west roses and evidence here certainly aids in background play
their part in striking the contrast identification
nor can one overlook vastly improved studio techniques which crafts was
accommodated but more than anything else the real difference between these two
performances is that Xilinx was clearly conceived as a concert experience his
leisurely application of Revati the sensual phase of the chi village the
performance as though aware that clarity was some enemy of mystery all these
things point to the origin his interpretive concept crap from the other hand was planned and
executed solely as a recording his performance takes into account the
intimacy and directness which its replay will be encountered by the listener
crafts designed for this piece response to an intuitive understanding of the
media that assumes that much imagination of abruptly encountered by the listener
his interpretation is all power steering and air brakes but fillings assumes that those gentle
attackers those more casual temples fluctuations are all part of a necessary
compensation employed by musicians seeking to present such complex music to
a public audience in order to integrate the rhythmic and
motivic complexities within list abuse music in the concert hall
zuly accepts a less analytic involvement craftily underhand is fully aware that
his audience sitting at home close up to the speaker was prepared to allow him to
dissect this mannequin be presented to them from a strongly biased conceptual
point with the circumstance of their listening the privacy of it the
concentration of allows make feasible so this then is one way in which the
recording has given the interpreter a sense of power because his work is being
viewed from close up through the intercession of the microphone he’s able
to fragment the interest would agree never attainable or
desirable in the concert hall the example from schanberg opus 5 was in
some ways a rather awkward choice I guess in such late romantic repertoire
doesn’t necessarily benefit by this kind of fragmentation
it wasn’t conceived in the way that baroque music was and as a great deal of
contemporary music for that matter is as something to be presented in the home
it’s becoming clear though that a great deal of music composed in recent years
presents acoustic problems which can only be properly solved in a recorded
performance here’s one such work the petits Anthony Casso taught by the Swiss
composer Frank my task which is scored the string orchestra and three solo
instruments piano harp and harpsichord the soloists combined to afford
registration or possibilities such as are virtually unworkable in any but the
smallest comfort role and with any but the most self-effacing the soloist on
record however it’s an altogether different matter as this superb blend
achieved by Deutsche Grammophon engineers in a performance supervised by
dr. Elsa Schiller and conducted by the lake during sweet shy illustrates I defy anyone to duplicate that concert
of instruments successfully in a concert hall other composers do right works
which utilize the technical achievements of electronic media so completely that
they eliminate the function of the performer altogether in these works the
composer in a sense is the performer as well although it’s sometimes necessary
for him to seek assistance from technicians who may specialize in some
aspect of electronic control such a specialist is decry mocker who is both a
composer himself and a technical assistant to other composers notably
Hank routings who officiates as director of the Philips Electronics to do in the
Netherlands by Margaret II own compositions are relatively
uninteresting as music but absolutely fascinating as controlled sound they’re
produced with an incredibly precise sonic definition a sharp focus about
line not always realized in electronic music and the clarity of the sound
operating at Shastri s dynamic levels very clearly suggests facial dismantle this sort of music drafted by a man who
is primarily an engineer and only secondarily a composer is concerned with
aural effect in much the same way that the current enthusiasm for painting
which cultivates purely optical illusion because in many cases contrived by
designers who are more concerned with proving the principle of optic control
than with creating a work of art as such many of the constructive methods that
seem so far at any rate indigenous to purely electronic music have transferred
with remarkable East contemporary idioms of conventional instrumental and vocal
expression the reiterated note pattern with a measured crescendo and diminuendo
the dynamic comparisons between close-up and far distant statement of the same
figuration above all the possibilities for immediate release and attack of
sound all of these motif cept some extent been borrowed by the post vibrant
idiom which so decisively controls our composing experience at the present and
a good example is our a bruisers score elect which welds conventional
instruments and pure electronic sound patterns into an extraordinarily
homogenous composition cause I never see Selena communication our catalog of the musical enthusiasms
of the present and makes clear that electronic reproduction of music has
already very subtly begun to alter the ways in which we perform and compose but
much more important than that it’s begun to alter the ways in which we react to
music sometimes it’s said that the attainment of music in our lives has
become too easy that music is too accessible to be meaningful people who
hold this opinion usually feel put out by the fantastic development of what
we’ve come to call background music music which is planned
prepared and packaged in advance in order to complement a certain mood or a
certain state of mind or a particular physical circumstance it aims for what one can only call
aesthetic neutrality it attempted harmonized with many environmental
situations as possible and to minimize our awareness of its own intrusion and
character the stylistic range of most background
music is quite variable when one relates it to conventional serious music of
recent times such background music is is designed for commercial images on
television or for restaurant music is pretty well confined to
harmonic and rhythmic idioms which at their most advanced might perhaps draw
upon the cliches of Impressionism on the other hand the musical background
of many grade B horror thrillers coming out of Hollywood these days to us upon
an advanced range of harmonic idiom and indeed under the cover of background
material some not altogether insignificant scorers have found their
way into the listening experience of people who otherwise would have found
them highly disagreeable even here of course they do this under
the cover of neutrality it’s axiomatic in the composition of movie background
that its success relates in inverse proportion to the listeners awareness of
it there’s a curious relation between these two facets which we’ve just
discussed between the neutrality of this background vocabulary the unobtrusive
Ness of its contribution and the fact that most background music is conveyed
through the process of recording because in fact these are two complementary
facets of the same phenomenon because the recording does not depend as the
concert does upon the mood of an occasion of a particular circumstance
because it can rely upon relating to a general set of circumstances rather than
attaining a specific pertinent it can achieve its relevance to the
contemporary sails imagery by exploiting those abilities through which it’s able
to draw without embarrassment upon an incredible range of stylistic reference
summoning to the contemporary world idiomatic devices of much earlier times
placing them in a context in which by according them are subdivided
participation they achiever a new validity the net result of music is background
material is that through an associative procedure that nobody really understands
very clearly it becomes adopted as part of a larger pattern of action those who
believe that background is a sinister influence assume that it’s capable of
reducing all who are exposed to it into proponents of its own vast cachet but
this is precisely the point because it does infiltrate our lives
from so many different angles the cliche residue of as many idioms as are
employed in background becomes an intuitive part of our musical vocabulary
and consequently in order to gain our attention any musical experience has to
be of a quite exceptional nature one man who spent a good deal of time
posing various aspects of this question is Robert offered young the music editor
of HiFi stereo review anybody who’s done much time alone listening to a recording
in his own room sooner or later gets too strange got a
rather strange feeling about music as a result of it music is something which
when it’s drained of what I’ve already called historic presence or historic
date the accidentals in attendance that the nectar comes into the hall at the
damp night the souther was a subway strike on that night the connector comes
in he feels the personality of the audience like a sort of dance
newfoundland dog looking mournfully it’s bound to affect his performance so
this is this all of this is ruled out as a miniature alone in a your own ideal
room listen your own ideal performance you begin to see this music sort of
passing before it was a freeze under very ideal condition with all the
presence in the world all three-dimensional feeling all the depth
and so forth it still is a an idealized version of this it’s not subject to any
accidental and there becomes there comes a point where there’s a touch of
something hallucinatory about this you are deliberately cut off from a great
many ordinary Affairs which you are not when you are sitting in a concert if you
record a for live performance in a hall I recall in particular one that I’ve
always used for an example in such cases that me it wasn’t a recording made in
Covent Garden by Shah Jahan in borås one of the most exciting records in the
world not only musical performance there’s a very unmistakable sense of a
historic occasion there it was a certain night in a certain year you hear
see of presents of the audience out there in the direct and occasional call
but you also hear our sense grabs with some sixth sense the effect this was
having on Charlie Evans performance in a studio recording there’s the music and
there is except for the things that specialists want a quibble about balance
and so far there’s no historic occasion the present whatsoever this is a moment
out of history you can’t get back into history from this moment what you’ll
have them is a document it’s a question whether what we want to leave for the
future is more documents or more historic occasion occasions in which
which are a part of the history of their time a document is not Analia which is a
pure document is not in the sense that I’m using the term if you dwell on the
documentary aspects of it you reach a state of intellectual purity about it
that can be attained no other way you get the kind of performance that the
concert hall rarely has to offer because of too many accidentals involved these
can be completely ruled out in the studio I’m just wondering whether knowing this I’m working along these
lines over a period of a generation or two will produce a totally new critical
concept toward the works of the past what would the composer himself of
preferred although that to that’s partly irrelevant I suppose it’s no coincidence
though that our concept of the tentative transitory nature of the interpreters
role has been greatly altered during the last fifty or sixty years which have
seen development of the recording it’s no accident that within the last
half-century modern musicology with its growing emphasis on authenticity as
uncovered by a great deal of detailed research the stylistic premises which
shaped the intentions of earlier composers we’ve developed this
exceptional concern for the music illogical mission just at that time when
were first to where–how infuriatingly transitory how reflective of the passing
modes and fashions are the purchases of the interpretive artists we often listen
today with amusement to the recordings of a vocalist or an instrumentalist at
fourteen fifty years ago and we wonder how such superficial indulgence should
ever have passed for persuasive style we then become aware that be millyar which
shapes the taste and the judgment of the interpretive artists is solely that of
his own age or at least had always been so in the past so our current passion
for authenticity for official realization of the composer’s intention
is entirely bound up with this intensely revealing and rather shocking view of
how drastically the interpretive fashion has altered within the few years that
we’ve been able to observe it via the recording one determining factor in the
role of a performing artist is the fact that his contact with the work being
recorded will be perhaps one should say can be of a different character treated
to a different exposure than the more conventional relationship of an artist
and the pieces that he plays in a concert performance the contact of the
recording artist with the music can be the result of an intense analytical
scrutiny from which he prepares and the records and interpretation of the
composition it’s conceivable that for the rest of his life he’ll never again
take up or come in contact with that particular work now this means that in
the course of his lifetime it will necessarily encounter a much wider a
much more varied range of repertoire than in all probability would be his lot
in the concert hall but most of all the intensity of the interpreters role
encourages him to attempt to contact with the work which is very much like
that of the composer’s own relation with it it permits him to encounter a
particular piece of music and to analyze and to dissect that music in the most
thorough way to make it a vital part of his life for a relatively short period
of that life and then to pass on to some other challenge into the satisfaction of
some others curiosity and yet still there are those who insist that the
beauty of the interpreter is only to capture some moments inspiration some
special insight available to him alone to somehow
transmit it to others first of all don’t think that that art should be governed
by the media that are the media are just existing things that come along that are improved and perhaps
help in a momentary transmission of art but there’s no reason why one should
alter the the nature of the art just by the media that are available to it and I
think at the very the very fact that music is made up of elements that require constant renewal the fact that
it’s made up of essentially in a way time and movement these things require
as part of their transmission the the fact that they must be done again in a
game and therefore must be given new life at each at each doing they own
pleasure a young American pianist who’s one of
the finest interpreters of romantic piano music in this generation like his
teacher the incomparable Artur Schnabel Fleischer though a frequent visitor to
the recording studio feels uncomfortable in the presence of the microphone he
refuses to concede that his interpretations have been in any way
influenced by his career in the recording studio he denies that his
playing has altered in the slightest to accommodate the technique of recording
and he feels that the recordings which he makes are entirely supplementary to
his public concert the the record I think retains vitality only as long as
there is still something unfamiliar in it the moment we get to a point in our
relation with a record where we know exactly how each phrase is going to be
shaped how long a Fermata is going to be held well the record has been served its
purpose it should be you know thrown away because it no longer contained the
essence of what music is and that is this renewing life at each performance
diana Minoans the wife of the celebrated violinist is at least partially in
agreement with lay on the pleasure I’m afraid of painting things down too
much I’m afraid of the modern which sounds
heretical I suppose the modern way of analyzing too much the more the modern
way trying to catch what should be elusive
I’m thinking always are the studio reproduction and the record as something
that crystallizes too much I always put a record on when I do the few times and
think what I do who could say it differently tonight I wanted that to be
as good as it was last time well I want to be tired and then I said anything oh
no of course not oh no he did that he can’t change
there’s nothing new the community what this is pushing it to a point abscess on
the other hand some species what I feared the record the feeling that
whatever is spontaneous is gone Robert off a guild has some rather special
convictions about a performer named Johann Sebastian Bach and I had my own
convictions about Vargas at all I think he had probably more extensive public
performance than any artist who ever lived
no matter how unused his audience was to this particular vocabulary the kind of
stylistic gesture he was making so of course it was there and he wanted to
communicate with it when you write for an idealized concept of this start
you’re going to rule out it seems to me eventually a certain amount of wealth in
the past isn’t called especially in Romantic literature the confessional
aspect as relating to an audience that you wanted immediately to move humanly
in some way or other I’ve often thought myself as I’ve been through comfortable
in my life as a child I was two years old I went accompanied this sad minutes
off silly sound inside of people beating their hands together was something I
just couldn’t take I suddenly was the strong from the whole thing and I
thought the key gaps it was difficult this is something so prescribed so
idiotic what would it look like if the South Sea Islanders hadn’t arrived here
as well all full of what supposedly sophistication advancement
making it extraordinary and the hands act world didn’t it wanted to beat their
hands like this or is it pocketed I don’t know well what those animals you
know that go like this absolutely ridiculous you cannot meet
Beethoven on these grounds but of course it can still be argued that for all its
pertinent to the present the recording does very little to assist
interpreter when he attempts to solve problems posed by works of the past for
which no documentation in sound exists the fact that in the past half century
we’ve been able to document the music of look at Strauss or Gustav Mahler or Al
schanberg as they heard it doesn’t really help us solve the problems posed
by the music of Bach or Beethoven it does of course conditioned us to accept
the elusiveness of musical tradition to concede that great composers often leave
strangely indulgent trepidations of their own works in recorded form but all
this really proves is that the composer as interpreter is quite as human and a
subject to the changing fashions of the years that which he lives as is the
artist who is exclusively an interpreter the last decade has provided a
fascinating evidence for this view through the legacy which is now being
prepared by Columbia Records of the complete works of Igor Stravinsky
conducted by the composer for several years Schuyler Chapin was the director
of the master works division of Columbia Records and in that capacity he guided
this enormous project of Stravinsky works I think this is the key to the
whole thing for the first time through records through electronics and sound a
new medium has been given to the composer so that now he has the thought
in his mind it is transcribed onto paper he performs it and finally when he is
ready to perform it having blended the mind the paper and the interpretation he
comes to the electronic field and he says now this is how I hear it take an
example of someone like Chopin how many editions of Chopin is one go
through and how many different ideas are put down for each and every piece on
paper last evening I was looking at a polish edition of the Chopin mazurkas
and I think it was number 12 I turned to the back of the book and there were at
least six different authentic interpretations of what a group of bars
meant authentic from polish standpoint German French English American the
editor the polish editor had the wit in the sense to write on the bottom in
since mr. performer pay your money and take your choice
now that kind of loose thinking that kind of personal involvement on the part
of an editor or the or the imaginative wanderings of a performer are not going
to be present in the case of a Stravinsky some people feel that the
Stravinsky is not the best conductor of his own music even though his forceful
and rather detached way with that music is peculiarly faithful to certain
implications of his composing style Schuyler Chaffin believes that the
document which Stravinsky is leaving in the form of his recordings will minimize
the degree to which his works will be subjected to interpretive variation in
the future if the recorded document has this effect it will totally alter our
conception of the interpreters role and the point raised by the scattered Chapin
is that regardless of the merits of Stravinsky zone conducting of his music
the scaffolding upon which future generations will build their view of
that music has already been erected he feels that it will not be subject to the
same degree of historical flux as has been the case with earlier composers
there have been many discussions about Stravinsky as a conductor the opinions
of this facet of his art have ranged from acceptable to excellent the two
gradations in between the curious fact is that since we started this intense
and important project to vince keys technique as a conductor has improved
with each record so that now apart from the documentary necessity of the work
that we’re doing we actually are finding that he is turning out to be in our
contemporary sense the very best interpreter of his own music take the
Firebird now if there is a piece of music better known in the general
orchestral repertoire 20th century work I think you’d be hard put to it to name
it the Firebird is done everywhere by everybody
Stravinsky’s recording of this the last one that he did and as he has announced
to us his final statement under speech trevean
skis Firebird is diametrically opposed to what he did himself with it 20 years
ago it is a stately slow careful building rhythm performance that once
heard is unforgettable and I’d like to mention that I had a very interesting
discussion with him about this very thing a year ago when I heard him do a
performance of it here in New York City at the stadium and the end which is
usually conducted licensed for all kinds of rampant rhythms and wild they’re
imagining the end moved as stately as a at the grand march and I asked him
afterwards why and he took my wrist and he put his fingers on my toast and he
said feel that and I felt it the regular beat of a heart and he said that is the
essence of the rhythm of this piece Hartley it should not change if you are
healthy and he says this laughing I am sweaty health you the recording in making permanent the
work of art permits that venerable notion about the artist who writes for
the future to become a very present reality recordings have so radically
altered our notion of the chronological fitting missive things that they obviate
many traditional judgments based on chronological succession a composer
whose work becomes preserved through recording assures to whatever parcel of
posterity will express a curiosity about that work the most precise realization
of his compositional intentions that technology can provide by holding the
present reality of an idea for some later observance we’re making it
possible to spend communicative gaps between individuals who respond to
different traditions and between cultures that are not chronologically
oriented the transmissions of events and sounds around our planet has made us
acutely aware of chronological differences exhibited by various
cultures a quite extraordinary example of the way
in which recordings can be used to circumvent the tyranny of chronological
judgement is I think found in the case of Ludwig Dean who combines the career
of businessman with the application of composer who lives in the bustling
commercial center of Norfolk Virginia and whose strange and strangely moving
music you are hearing now blukic dean is presently engaged in
turning out a series of large-scale symphonic works which very much resemble
the mammoth orchestral structures of Anton Bruckner he’s now written eight of
these symphonies all of which exhibit precisely the same distaste for the
musical mores of the 20th century when a new work is finished he arranges for a
private recording of it by a European Orchestra distributes the acetates of
the recording session to a small group of friends and having thus ensured the
perpetuation his idea calmly sits down and writes another symphony well to
begin with I must find out that I was born in Singapore and lived in Java and
my approach to music is perhaps a little different than they usually I may be
called a loner did not have too much contact his musician certainly not when
I was in Java and learned a lot by listening to recordings and studying
study scores and of course keeping my ears open my prime principle in writing
music is that I am want to be sincere I want to write only note that I would
never be ashamed of no matter how many years later I would look back on them I
want to write exactly what I but I feel I do not want to manipulate my scores
for special effect or for any kind of fashion especially I do not believe in
following fashion I feel like almost like two in my works
and not children that is of course in that tool of Africa way but it’s like a
father would like to see his children to make their way in the world so in the
same sense I would leave my scores was dirty and hope that they would make
their way in the musical world I found that the that is a certain
regression regression in composing as possible I have written works which are
tend to be more hoc back further back into the 19th century
I have written works of that kind like you know like the third to music I feel
that my music is neither and bound to the past nor is it particularly
committed to the future I found that in the beginning in the earlier years I
listened to great deals that I consider our great deal of my experience to
record as far as my own recordings are concerned I believed nothing could be
better from a composer standpoint specially from a composer who does not
have too much contact with the general public that he should leave this works
in well recorded versions to form something of a musical liability which
could be readily available to friends of his music in terms of the people that he
thinks might enjoy them all creative artists claim and challenge
that posterity will be their judge but they have nothing but disdain for the
limited vision of their present audience but all too often the enormous force of
opinion of fashion molding that everywhere limits the play of
imagination which an artist can enjoy frames the view from which he writes and
the purpose for which he writes to remain in the modern world permitted
against the pressures of fashion is possibly the most difficult task which
any artist could set himself the most significant thing that
recordings have done however does not concern the performers or the composers
who are involved with them it concerns the listeners who make use of them it’s
the extraordinary change in the participation level of the listener
he develops a listening situation in which the distractions and contradictory
influences of the public listening room are removed and the energy that he’d
expend there warding off these distractions is we channeled the energy
the attention extended upon purely illusory social conquest in the public
listening room achieves through the media recording a much more purposeful
redirection I believe that the fact that music plays so pervasive a role in our
daily lives will permit it to assume in our time a character as immediate as
utilitarian as colloquial as language now holes in the conduct of our daily
lives the only way in which that degree of familiarity which language has long
since established could be achieved by music is for it to become so familiar to
us that whatever its style its fundamental habits it mannerisms its
tricks its customary devices its statistically most frequent occurrences
in other words it’s cliched whatever these things they will be instantly
familiar and recognized by everyone able to hear because when there’s a mass
recognition of the cliche character of a vocabulary there is not it seems to me
any great need to be concerned that the listener will be saturated with the
modalities of those cliches quite the contrary we don’t value great works of
literature less because we as men on the street speak the language in which they
happen to be written the very fact that so much of our daily conversation is
concerned the fifty Deus familiarities of common courtesy the mandatory
conversation openers about the weather and so on doesn’t for a moment dull our
appreciation of the potential glories of language to the contrary it sharpens it
it gives us a background against which that foreground which is the habitat of
the imaginative artist stands in greater relief for the simple reason that in
order to attain notice it has to achieve a much more exceptional transcendence of
the commonplace than was previously its requirement it’s my view that in the
electronic age the art of music become much more viable part of our lives much
less an ornament to them and consequently changed the much more
profoundly Marshall McLuhan the director of the University of Toronto’s Institute
of culture and Technology has done a great deal of research into the question
of audience participation in the electronic media and he’s achieved quite
extraordinary insights into the way in which it determines the participation
levels of the audience but the attendants say I off the audience as it
becomes more and more participant is to eliminate content in the ordinary sense
just as in abstract painting a representational content tends to go out
as the painting becomes more and more cartoon-like and abstract this permits a
very much higher degree of do-it-yourself Ness and involvement on
the part of the viewer demands that he do a great deal for himself and by
eliminate you see whereas if he merely recognizes some content in the painting
if he merely identifies content his participation is minimal if on the other
hand he has to grope as in a crossword puzzle for every scrap of content he
becomes very participant in the creative process of making these these kinds of
structures I think that is a strong tendency in the electric age in many
levels for the what had been the audience to become very creatively
engaged we’re moving into an age for example when children will be taught how
to program computers when the entire productive and decision-making process
at the highest levels of Industry can be entirely run from homes by housewives
under a type of computer technology there is not only no need to go to work
there is no need to have high-level tycoon executive types anymore the sort
of programming that got participant programming that goes along here for mix
Clint non-specialists types to get into the activity of the highest and most
potent industries it’s like the suggestion box which
increasingly involves the audience in the making process but the tendency of
the of the making process to take over as the content of work of art is very
interesting our present-day record devotees are already as a breed an
extraordinary self reliant lot they have opportunities for analytical judgment
which afford them a responsible role in the we creative process this
responsibility exists because of the physical circumstances to which the
listener can control and modify the nature of this experience 40 years ago
the listener had the option of turning the switch which said on and off and if
he had a particularly up-to-date machine perhaps modulating the volume just a bit
today on the other hand a quite extraordinary variety of controls are
available all of which are designed to encourage the preferential conditions
which the listener can impose upon the performance 30 years and the quasi
analytical controls that the current high fiber bug is offered are as nothing
when compared to the participation or possibilities which the listener will
have at its disposal once the current techniques of electronic music have been
appropriated by the home listening device the audience becomes increasingly
composer just as it does in all other feedback relationships like market
research audience becomes maker of design in products by simply by getting
closer to the involvement in the making of objects so that I think the same is
happening in any electric circuit audience becomes more and more creative
more and more a part of the making process simply by your identification
with the initial performance I think that we have some very strange examples
of recorded music causing new images to emerge and perhaps so we might think for
a moment of the effect of the omnipresence of little transistors and
so on on art our own children the uses they they have for these kinds of
auditory effect it seemed very mysterious to
their parents they use this incredible noise for privacy they they use it to
create little deepens realm of their own their little world music wouldn’t you
say has a tremendous power to create its own world to exclude other worlds so
perhaps the children aren’t entirely wrong in pretending to be able to use
this as a means of concentrating on their homework they control by white
noise as it were all the other noises in the environment there is a very strange
result of they are recording whether or not things will work out quite this way
whether or not the listener will choose to exercise these specific perogative is
hardly the point the real issue is that as this media evolved it becomes
available for situations in which the quite properly self-indulgent
participation of the listener will be encouraged so this leads us to assume
then that the old distinctions about the various classes in the musical hierarchy
distinctions that separated the composer and the performer and both of them from
the listener well to a large extent become outmoded the prospects of the
recording are such as to suggest that an overlapping of function will become the
next major force in musical activity or does this then contradict the fact that
since the Renaissance the separation of functions specialization has been the
professional lot and that the medieval status of the musician as one who
created for the sake of his own enjoyment has long since been supplanted
by ours our post Renaissance orgy of musical sophistication I believe that
these two concepts are not necessarily contradictory although the overlapping
at various levels of professional and lay responsibilities in the creative
process does tend to produce a set of circumstances which superficially are
not unlike those would be largely unilateral participation of the
pre-renaissance world in fact it’s deceptively easy to draw such a parallel
to assume that the entire adventure of the Renaissance and of the world which
is created with a gigantic historical error but we are not returning to a
medieval culture the future will not negate the immediate past but will build
upon it as we’ve done the significance of some
cultural pattern in the immediate future may well call to mind the rather more
distant past and seem to circumvent the immediate past but the difference will
be very much more significant than the similarity what will happen rather is
that entirely new participation ‘el areas will develop and that many more
hands will be required to achieve the execution of a particular work of art so
that instead of representing the direct statement of a creative person acting as
an interpretive person and for the pleasure of himself as listening
impression the circuit of participation in music of the future will create an
enormous number of participation eleven is that because of this complexity
because so many different hands are in fact merged in the final result of the
work of art the specialized information concepts which define the nature of
identity within the historical process become very much less imposing we see
this today at many different levels all the way from that at which the
composer’s participates in making his own interpretation permanent as he does
in purely electronic music to the anonymous contributions of engineers and
producers who special overlapping functions alter and modify the end
result of our electronic listening or viewing the most hopeful thing about
this process about the inevitable lapse of the identity factor in the creative
situation is that it will encourage a climate in which the biographical
character of the historical persons involved will no longer be the
cornerstone for subsequent assumptions about the work and consequently permit
an infinitely more altruistic if you like and any case extra historical
participation in fact the whole question of individuality in the creative
situation the question about the way in which the creative act results from and
absorbs and reforms individual opinion and individual action will be subjected
to the most radical reconsideration with the reporter the electronic drum as it
were all the music of the world becomes available at any moment does like an
encyclopedia we begin to develop a vast tribal encyclopedia of musics a music
becomes plural you speak of it any longer the cingulate and
as an international language you know that old pet cliche of the 19th century
that music is the universal the international language with the recorded
we know this is not so that it takes enormous training to learn the idiom or
to understand well for example what we call Eastern music is a to our Western
ears scarcely music at all on the other hand it is very subtly adjusted to vocal
and colloquial pattern in which the nuance is extremely tricky and elusive
now our our western music by accentuating instruments at the expense
of the human voice a more or less obliterated our sensitivity to speech as
music because in actual fact the spoken word is music pure music at any time it
is a form of singing if you want to test that all you have to do is slow down
speech at any moment and you’re singing any word sustained for a moment you say
the word love any word at all to slow down is song now what we did obviously
in the Western Western music over the past five centuries or four centuries
was to speed up some effects far beyond the ordinary speech level to pull out
virtuoso instruments for solo effects or something which no Arab or Chinese would
gleam of doing he wants to subordinate all musical effect to the corporate
colloquial speech now I think we’re moving that way in our own Western world
we are too close to the invention of electronic material to be able properly
to judge its effect upon our world but when all of the fascination all of the
novelty that this material offers is passed away when the physical
circumstances that it creates have opened the new world of activity and
participation to millions of people who previously were strangers to the
creative act we may be sure that what will be most profound
fact it will be our own sense of history our own stubborn concern about the
fitness and conclusiveness of our present will be disturbed precisely
because of that encyclopedic awareness of other cultures and of other time
concepts and you can be sure that the function of the recording is the basis
of a new archival sense will have much to do with the consolidation of this
historical definition it seems to me that many of these views are summed up
by Robert Verdi the older I get the more convinced I am
that art is possibly the most luminous gesture against Oblivion’s and deaths
that mankind is achieved there are very moving things done by inarticulate
people in the face of death but they are only realised and made explicit to the
rest of us in art I think there have been periods in history or the early
Christian centuries and so forth whether there was a kind of emotional shortcut
between man’s sense of is present lies and his conception of immortality which
made art almost impossible as wheels had less and less religious activity I don’t
mean to me organized sense either I mean exist in the average personal sense we
find more and more people finding realizing themselves realizing their
aspiration and many Alex almost inexpressible things in ours rather than
in religious experience I am frequently impressed reading the regular modern
poetry hearing great deal of some of the more events and modern musical
experiences define how much of mysticism at one time or another there is in them I think the most heroic modern musician
people who have written and worked with a great deal of dedication and without
very many allusions in the 19th century sense are almost the pattern of sanctity
of any time I equate the greatest performers the greatest composers with
much earlier figures as I equate them now in my own thinking my own private
mythology with prophets and with people who have various kinds of religious
experience in the past I think it’s a serious is that I think it’s I think
it’s that important to the race the human race I think that recording is
going to be read in the light of Revelation in the future dialogue on the prospects of recording a
documentary for radio written and narrated by Glenn Gould heard in
conversation with mr. Gould whereas Skylar Chapin Ludwig Dean Leon
Fleisher John Hammonds Marshall McLuhan Diana Minoan Paul Meyers and Robert
offer geld musical examples were from works by Bach Mazursky Schoenberg
Frank Martin D crime occur re poozer Igor Stravinsky Ludwig Dean Lucas Paz
and public fund a token this program was produced by Irving
Glick technical operations David Hirini program organizer Karl little hairy man
is speaking you

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