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Samizdat art is the shaping, the realization, of a cultural‘something’. It is the coagulation of different artistic attitudes, the crystallization of many, often conflicting ideas into one-into what Russians call a ‘cultural phenomenon ’. This compaction of plurality intosingularity isacommon denominator of the past emigrations and promises to remain so in the foreseeable future. UNDERSTANDINGMUSICTHROUGH PERIMENTS by Janet L.S. Moore. University Press of America, Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706, U.S.A., 1986. 121 pp. Paper, $9.00. ISBN 0-8191-5231-5. Reviewed by Allan Shields, 4890 Old Hwy., Mariposa, CA 95338, U.S.A. SOUND EXPLORATION AND EXThisis a handbook for collegehniversity students and music teachers, one that emerges from the music laboratory and recent literature about music education. Designed especially for the “inexperienced student” of music, it undertakes to lead the student by graduated stages (a textbook invention of Epicurus) to an appreciative insight into music asan art with which the veriest amateur may have meaningful transactions throughout life. By means of 26 ‘experiments’ the student moves through naive explorations of sound and silence as physical realities that can be explained and visualized by means of oscilloscopes and graphs. Early on, a definition of music is sketched, albeit without success. Music is not just sound. It is “ ... man’s organization of sound and silence ...”, the emphasis on its human-made character being consistently advanced throughout the work. The author admits a theoretical (logical) difficulty with the definition and proposes a variety of “meanings found in music”. She names six uses of music: as aesthetic expression, as nonverbal communication, for unification of people, as an element of ritual, in music therapy, and as enjoyment and recreation. This may not be the place to argue the logic of this effort to conceive musicbut it needs to be remarked that the essential meaning of music cannot be discovered by noting its uses-or its misuses,for that matter.What the author claims for music may be sufficient as a propaedeutic or hermeneutic exercise to initiate the program, even though the claims are logically deficient. Within chapter one, the student is conveyed quickly from nascent, natural sounds and silences, through the heady effort to define music, into the headier concepts of creativity, composition and improvisation. Succeeding chapters teach, by hands-on ‘experiments’, music notation systems, including the traditional and non-traditional, electronic, tape, synthesizer music, fundamentals (rhythm, melody, harmony, quality of sound, texture and form). In principle, it is all here in a nutshell, encapsulated for the nonmusic student. Extensive references make it clear that such a program has been undertaken frequently over the past 25 years, especially in the U.S. A major effort in San Diego, sponsored by the MENC,coordinated by Mary Val Marsh, is noted in an appendix in some detail, with multiple exemplars. The main presupposition of these efforts to teach the non-musician music is that some means other than the heavy labor and discipline of practicing an instrument for many years must be possible. Since 1838,when Lowell Mason first taught musicin the schoolsof Boston as part of the curriculum, teachers have searched for the magic formula to bring the delights of music to all. Mason believed that vocal, religious music was the proper vehicle. Today his program would probably be disallowed as unconstitutional . Mason convinced teachers all across the land that vocal music in groups (and in churches, of course) was available to all as an entry into the larger world of music. Janet Moore has presented still another way to accomplish this worthy end. Her detailed plan for equipping a “music laboratory” or classroom with all the latest computer hardware and software, synthesizers, tape recorders, etc., even a do-it-yourself acoustical surface made of painted egg cartons, leaves no one wanting for means. The 26 experiments work for her students, apparently, and they are carefully presented. However, speaking as one who has labored at music for more than six decades, I hold serious reservations about this rather indirect means to a musical end. Though I am more than willing to be shown that I am mistaken, I believe the direct presentation of musical exemplars, as in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 103-104
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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