The Music of the Modern Era

In 1913, Italian Futurist painter Luigi Russolo wrote “The Art of Noise” to his friend Francesco Prattela. The painter was discussing the growing fascination between the arts and technology and how it informed the art world and everyday life. He positioned himself as a futurist: leave the old behind and restart from scratch.

The most complicated orchestra can be reduced to four or five categories of
instruments with different sound tones: rubbed string instruments, pinched string instruments, metallic wind instruments, wooden wind instruments, and percussion instruments. Music marks time in this small circle and vainly tries to create a new variety…


The Women Behind 20th Century Avant-Garde Electronic Sounds

The Wizards Laboratory (1972)

Introducing Derbyshire’s Soundscape:

Derbyshire’s music was composed through tape recording. A sound from an object was recorded live and then manually spliced with a razor and taped back up. Door to Door (1968) Born in England 1937, Derbyshire became one of the influential electronic composers for television and radio soundtracks. She held a degree in mathematics and music from Cambridge University. She worked at the BBC in the Radiophonic Workshop as an assistant (BBC refused to hire composers and gave them title of assistant) from the 60’s into the 70’s. Her job as an assistant was to create music…


Excerpts from “Joseph Schillinger? The Father of Electronic Music, That’s Who” by Arnold Shaw, Los Angeles Times, 1972.

He was a fastidious dresser and possessed about 200 pairs of socks of different weights, and colors. 40 suites, twenty coats and dozens of shirts. He applied his principles of rhythmic design to the colors and fabrics, and by using permutations he varied his outfits so that none was ever fully duplicated.

Joseph Schillinger was a composer, music theorist, and composition teacher. He was born in Russia in 1895 and died in New York City in 1943. As the article title states…


For this week’s blog post I was curious how newspapers reported black composers in the 20th century. In class, we have discussed Florence Price and William Grant Still during our exploration of American music. Price was the first African-American women to have her symphony, Symphony in E minor, performed by a major orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Still is widely known for his Afro-American Symphony composed in 1930. I found two newspaper articles from 1990 and 2014 and became intrigued by the similarities, the names included, and the authors comments.

Florence Price

“In fact, if it doesn’t get at least three rehearsals I’m in trouble.”

During this weeks discussions, I feel a common thread developed between us in MUS 533: we didn’t know enough about African American composers. In my googling search I discovered George Walker and specifically his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1981) renamed Movements for Cello and Orchestra (2012). On my first listen all I can comment is: Why isn’t this piece a standard among cellists? Why have I never heard this piece before? and I would love to perform in an orchestra playing Walker’s piece one day.

So, what is standard among cello concertos? Personally, I have heard Edward Elgar’s Concerto…


what it means to be a listener

The String Quartet is possibly one of classical music’s greatest achievement. It’s tradition begins with Joseph Haydn’s and moves through Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonín Dvořák to name a few. In 1950, Elliott Carter spent a year in the Sonora Desert outside Tucson, Arizona and composed his String Quartet №1. Four large sections make up the entire work lasting around 45 minutes. Those sections being “Fantasia, Allegro scorrevole, Adagio and Variations”. Fantasia is composed of multiple themes in counterpoint and concludes with the four main themes being heard at once. Follows is fragmented…


Excerpt from “The Neoclassicist Movement” from Music Between the Wars by Aaron Copland, p. 56

Aaron Copland’s connection between composers Paul Hindemith (1895–1963) and J.S. Bach (1685-1750) is surprising. The first being from the 20th century composing modern music, the second from the 18th century composing Baroque music. After further inspection, other writers compared the two together as well.


20th Century Music: Let’s Talk Cabaret…

Le Boeuf sur le Toit and Les Six’s Darius Milhaud

Collected by Daniella Thompson: Photograph Le Boeuf sure le Toit (Henrion collection)

When I think of the word “cabaret” I immediately think of the musical Chicago or the film Burlesque starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. I imagine bars or nightclubs with song and dance for entertainment. Who knows where I got this image from but I was sure blown away when I took a European Literary-Political Cabaret course at the University of Arizona in Spring 2020. As a performance based musician, I was left confused why the cabaret art style wasn’t taught in music history.


Béla Bartók is an Hungarian composer who is recognized for researching and documenting folk-music. In his own compositions, he used motives and rhythm from these folk tunes and “reimagined” them for the concert hall. There exists a bias towards folk-music and it’s use by those of “high” society. I wanted to explore how the media portrayed Bartók’s work and came across an article in the New York Times from 1932 by O.D. titled “Bela Bartok on Folk-Music”.

Bartok, standing near a window, records the songs of villagers in 1907.

My first impression after reading the article was the focus on the merit of folk-music and it’s people (the term “peasants” is used…


Introduction to Impressionism

To define Impressionism in music it to be met with differing opinions. In art, it is a style from the 1860’s in France that is depicting a moment or feeling. The most renown painter would be Claude Monet (1840- 1926).

Cliff Walk at Pourville (1882) by Claude Monet. Original from the Art Institute of Chicago.

It is clearly a painting of a pair overlooking the sea filled with sail boats. What we can infer from Monet’s brush strokes is it is a windy day perfect for sailing and maybe you can imagine a sea breeze as you’re walking the cliffs.

What does this mean when music is labeled as Impressionism? Does the…

Bri R

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