Reflections on American Music: The Twentieth Century and The New Millennium, edited by James R. Heintze and Michael Saffle

October 1, 2003

Reflections on American MusicReflections on American Music: The Twentieth Century and The New Millennium, edited by James R. Heintze and Michael Saffle. CMS Monographs and Bibliographies in American Music, 16. Michael J. Budds, series editor. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 2000. ISBN 1-57647-070-9. xvii + 428 pp.

Published in conjunction with "Toronto 2000: Musical Intersections," the massive conference and confluence of fourteen music societies (American Musical Instrument Society; American Musicological Society; Association for Technology in Music Instruction; Canadian Society of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres; Canadian Society for Traditional Music; Canadian University Music Society; The College Music Society; Historic Brass Society; International Association for the Study of Popular Music (Canadian and U. S. Chapters); Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relationships; Society for American Music; Society for Ethnomusicology; Society for Music Perception and Cognition; and Society for Music Theory), Reflections on American Music: The Twentieth Century and The New Millennium contains forty essays and other offerings on music in the twentieth century and speculations on music in the twenty-first. This volume also serves as a Festschrift to The College Music Society, honoring America's foremost organization of post-secondary music teachers. The forty-two contributors (of over seventy-five contacted) to this volume represent virtually every profession in American music making, including administrators, church musicians, composers, conductors, dancers, ethnomusicologists, journalists, music critics, music librarians and archivists, musicologists, performers, professors, public school educators, publishers, radio station executives, and record company owners. In addition, America's best pediatrician/poet, William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), is represented by his poem "The Rewaking," which was originally printed in the first issue (1961) of College Music Symposium. Each contribution is preceded by an informative one-paragraph biography of the contributor(s). The diversity of the authors (in age, location, and professional specialization) and the contributions themselves (including autobiographical accounts, compositions, diary entries, speculative essays, scholarly articles, and Williams's poem) are representative of the variety of American music itself.

The preface (subtitled "About a Book Called Reflections on American Music") by co-editors James R. Heintze and Michael Saffle provides a brief overview of changes in American music and society during the so-called "American Century." Within four pages, Heintze and Saffle transport their readers on a quick journey from the beginning of the recording age (when ragtime was still a novelty) to the digitalization of music in a variety of formats and contexts. The preface also contains a brief description of the editors' methodology, as well as a 1996 statement by President Bill Clinton on the importance of music and the study of music.

Contributions in this Festschrift are divided into two categories: "Concerning The College Music Society" and "The Twentieth Century and the New Millennium." The first includes the following contributions: "American Music and The College Music Society, An Introduction" by Dale A. Olsen; "Facilitating Learning: The Role of The College Music Society" by Barbara English Maris; "Is There a Future for the Traditions of Music and Music Learning in Our Colleges and Universities?" by Leon Botstein; and the aforementioned William Carlos Williams poem. The first essay, by the 1999-2000 CMS President, discusses the many meanings of the term "American music," and reflects on the cultural and ethnic mosaic of life and culture in the U. S. Olsen cites numerous examples of The College Music Society's recognition of America's ethnic diversity, not only in its selection of conference sites but in the wide array of articles published throughout the years in College Music Symposium. Maris's essay reflects on the teaching profession, and the significance of The College Music Society in enhancing one's own knowledge, pedagogical skills, and awareness of the larger educational community.

Leon Botstein's contribution (an edited transcript of his Robert M. Trotter Lecture at the 1996 CMS annual meeting) is must reading for all those involved in college music teaching. Botstein reflects on societal issues that impact on music learning, music making, and music perception, not only now, but in the past. In teaching music, Botstein urges us to consider among other things, the impact of popular culture, the larger acoustic environment (particularly the relation of sight and sound), the social structure of musical time itself, music in relationship to the life cycle, and links between music and social class. Botstein also implores us to relate music history to history in general, and to reconsider the repertoires we teach in applied lessons. Botstein concludes his polemic by stating: "What we are doing, actually, is fighting against the onrush of fashion and thoughtless change. The university is properly a conservative institution by definition. We should see ourselves as re-inventing traditions in order to conserve them and the university itself. We may yet establish an appreciation for complex and endangered traditions of music. Music, in this sense, is a form of life—which, to everyone in the field of music, is a matter of life and death."

Part two of this volume contains thirty-five contributions, arranged alphabetically by author. These include the following: "From 'Winter Music': A Composer's Journal" by John Luther Adams; "Music at the Millennium: America, the World, and the New Generation" by David Amram; "Medievalism in American Musical Life" by Elizabeth Aubrey; "Blending Choirs: A New Paradigm for High School Choirs with Odd Numbers and Strange Schedules" by Barbara W. Baker; "Music Publishing in America" by Arnold Broido; "Classical Music Criticism: Crises and Hopes" by Scott Cantrell; "Music Theory and Progressive Rock Style Analysis: On the Threshold of Art and Amplification" by John S. Cotner; "The Sounds of Silents: An Interview with Carl Davis" by Carl Davis and John C. Tibbetts; "American Choral Music at the Millennium" by David P. DeVenney; "The Music We've Called Jazz" by Ethel Ennis and Earl Arnett; "The Twenty-first-Century Maestro" by JoAnn Falletta; "Public-School Music Education in the Twentieth Century" by Charles L. Gary; "The Invisible Art: New Music in America" by Bob Goldfarb; "Music Librarianship: 70 Years Back and 70 Years Forward" by Jane Gottlieb; "Will Classical Music Remain a Vital Force in Our Culture?" by Gary Graffman; "A Proposal for Artist-owned Recordings and a University-based Music Distribution Network" by Marnie Hall; "And the Music Goes 'Round: An Interview with John Kander" by John Kander and John C. Tibbetts; "American Music Historiography Yesterday and Today" by William Kearns; "Challenges and Visions: Reflections on American Church Music" by Marilyn A. Kielniarz; "Foot Notes: Tap in the Twentieth Century" by Ann Kilkelly; "The Blues—Past and Future: An Interview with B. B. King" by B. B. King and William R. Ferris; "Jazz, Now and Always" by Howard Mandel; "Globalization, Culturation, and Transculturation in American Music: From Cultural Pop to Transcultural Art" by Dale A. Olsen; "A Case for Continuity" by Jerold Ottley; "They're Playing My Song: Performance Rights in the Twenty-first Century" by Frances W. Preston; "Confessions of a New Orleans Jazz Archivist" by Bruce Boyd Raeburn; "Cultural Outreach through Music in Community-College Education" by Elizabeth C. Ramirez; "The American Century: Remembering the Past, Contemplating the Future" by Elliott Schwartz; "Continental Harmony: A Community-based Celebration of the American Millennial Year" by Patricia A. Shifferd; "Finding Our Way Back Home: Tonality in the Twenty-first Century" by Robert Sirota; "Kurt Weill's Americana: The Open Road to the Future" by Jack Sullivan; "Performing-Rights Collectives: Dinosaurs of the New Millennium?" by William Velez; "Music Theory and Pedagogy before and after the Millennium" by John White; "Coming of Age: Reflections on Black Music Scholarship" by Josephine R. B. Wright; and "'A Closed Fist' from Spirals (for violin, viola, and cello)" by Judith Lang Zaimont. A detailed index and eleven illustrations complete this volume.

While it is impossible to summarize and critique all the essays in part two of this anthology within the space allotted here, a few stand out. In her article, Elizabeth Aubrey discusses not only the history of the early music movement in the U. S., but also issues of authenticity and the public's fascination with things medieval. Marnie Hall's essay provides invaluable detailed practical advice on how musicians can make money in the music business (primarily by bypassing publicists, sound engineers, managers, administrators, and others), and is must-reading for all those contemplating a recording session. Josephine R. B. Wright's essay on black music scholarship not only surveys the most important contributions to the field dating back to 1878 (James Monroe Trotter's Music and Some Hightly Musical People) but also enumerates enough lacunae in black music scholarship to keep countless researchers busy for decades.

Four composers (John Luther Adams, David Amram, Elliott Schwartz, and Robert Sirota) contributed to this volume, and provide interesting viewpoints on music creation in America. Adams's offering consists of diary entries detailing his life during the three months he composed a seventy-four-minute orchestral piece, The Immeasurable Space of Tones. Through these jottings, the reader encounters the environmental and cultural impacts (including bone-chilling Alaskan winter temperatures, Arctic wildlife, Iñupiaq Messenger Feast ceremonies, and a touring Balinese gamelan ensemble) upon Adams's music. David Amram's essay opens boldly with the statement: "Today American music is world music." (49) Reflecting upon his own career as a composer/conductor/multi-instrumentalist, Amram urges all musicians to "rejoice in our own knowledge, . . . share that knowledge with others, and . . . create our own styles even as we respect and help preserve the styles and treasures of the past." (52) Sirota's contribution enumerates the international style that dominated academic composition in the decades immediately after World War II, and looks favorably on the "return to tonality" movement heralded by George Rochberg in 1972. Elliott Schwartz's lengthier essay brilliantly details the reasons for American pre-eminence on the world new-music scene in the last half of the twentieth century, addresses how the U. S. reached this prominent position, and enumerates the special characteristics of American music that have made such a strong international impact. His remarks also include five predictions about the eclectic American music scene in the twenty-first century: new compositions linked to emerging developments in technology, creation of accessible pieces designed for relatively untrained amateurs using acoustic instruments, blurring of distinctions between musical categories and styles, the increasing impact of non-European cultures on art music, and changes in the teaching of music (particularly composition) at all levels.

Perhaps the essay that best epitomizes and summarizes the theme which permeates much of this volume is Dale A. Olsen's "Globalization, Culturation, and Transculturation in American Music: From Cultural Pop to Transcultural Art." Olsen begins by defining globalization (a merging of influences from around the world), culturation (the concept of culture moving forward as a self-fulfilling process), and transculturation (the process of cultural transference, or influences across cultures). The first of the three topics Olsen details in this essay is "Global and Cultural American Pop Music." Focusing primarily on Native American popular music, he concentrates his discussion on six prominent musicians (Brent Michael Davids, Buddy Red Bow, Cherokee Rose, Keith Secola, Joanne Shenandoah, and R. Carlos Nakai) and their disparate approaches to music making. In the second section, "Four Global and Transcultural American Composers of the Twentieth Century," Olsen observes Henry Cowell, Harry Partch, John Cage, and Lou Harrison through his ethnomusicological lens. In the final section, "Five Global, Cultural, and/or Transcultural American Composers for the Twenty-first Century," Olsen details the outputs and philosophies of five American composers (David Ward-Steinman, Takeo Kudo, Alex Lubet, Brent Michael Davids, and Michael Bakan) whose intriguing creations provide samples of the enormous diversity possible in early twenty-first-century music. Olsen concludes this enlightening essay by stating, "Globalization, culturation, and transculturation are successful ways that certain composers of our time have introduced the world to new sounds, expanded our musical palate, and taught us that music and other aspects of culture have fewer borders and boundaries than ever before." (288)

As comprehensive as this volume is, it still contains some major omissions. As the co-editors admit in the preface, this volume "as a whole contains far too little about gospel music or Hispanic-American music or electronic music. No single publication, of course, could begin to encompass the staggering quantity and variegated qualities of twentieth-century American culture, much less the possibilities of the new millennium." (xvi) Other topics which one wishes for include essays on musics of the various Southeast Asian peoples who immigrated in the post-Vietnam War years, as well as some scholarly discourse devoted to the newest homegrown style to dominate American and world culture: hip hop. (In all fairness, these gaps may have been due to the lack of response by the nearly three dozen authors requested to submit contributions who did not.) As with any volume of this size and scope, errata have crept in, the most obvious being the misspelling of the name of the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (in 1983, for her Symphony No. 1: Three Movements for Orchestra).

Due to the great variety of topics covered in this book, very few will read it in its entirety. However, anyone involved in teaching music on the collegiate level and/or interested in American music in the new millennium will discover that Reflections on American Music contains numerous first-rate, intriguing, and thought-provoking articles that make acquaintance with this volume obligatory.

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