Friday, December 31, 2010

My childhood music collection

I had an odd collection of music when I was younger.

I already blogged about Glenn Gould in my collection.

I remember for instance, sitting in the living room with my parents, reading the newspaper and I found an ad from Radio Shack of all places, for an audio tape of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I had just enough money, and I must have been about 16 or so, because I drove to the store and bought it. I still have it on cassette tape.

I remember, as I've mentioned before, a kid from school coming over and my having to take Bach piano fugues off and put on Black Sabbath; both of which I loved equally. But such a dichotomy lead to people thinking I was, weird. 

I loved, and still do, Morton Subotnik's "The Wild Bull". A fabulously touching piece of work and Silver Apples of the Moon, a later piece I more recently discovered.

I listened to mostly rock music back then but, I also started listening to blues because of my older brother. I listened to classical; I started listening to jazz; I loved the old b/w movies with their blends of swing, classical, jazz, whathaveyou.

I owned and played to death, the ground breaking, "Switched on Bach" album and its sequel the following year, "The Well-Tempered Synthesizer", a 1969 album released by Wendy Carlos (then released as Walter Carlos prior to his sex change, which, years later, in looking him up again, I was shocked to discover he was now putting music out as Wendy). The Well-Tempered Synthesizer consists of a selection of pieces by Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, and Handel as well as Bach whose music was exclusively featured on the first album. The title of The Well-Tempered Synthesizer is a play on Bach's own collection of pieces entitled The Well-Tempered Clavier which I later owned by Glenn Gould. Carlos did music for The Shining, and the original Tron movie; as well as a work titled, Clockwork Black.

I had some other very experimental pieces of music that I can no longer remember the names of, either the musicians or the music.

Here are a couple of links to 1960s and 1970s experimental music. None of these artists are artists I had on vinyl. I cannot find those now. Most "experimental" music I find now, are variations on normal music. Experimental is something very different.

World Lingo defines it this way:

"Experimental music is a term introduced by composer John Cage in 1955. Cage defined "an experimental action is one the outcome of which is not foreseen" (Cage 1961, 39), and he was specifically interested in completed works that performed an unpredictable action (Mauceri 1997, 197).

"In a broader sense, it is also used to mean any music that challenges the commonly accepted notions of what music is. David Cope describes experimental music as that, "which represents a refusal to accept the status quo" (Cope, 1997, 222)."

Perhaps what I refer to is Avant Garde music? I don't know. I just know that electronic music in the 60s was very experimental and from there, we go into Avant Garde. Some of it was very hard to listen to and some, very beautiful in its own sense of the term. But even today, we have some wonderful pieces of unusual music.

Needless to say, my musical tastes in my childhood years, confused my friends and family. My brother was into unusual music, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Capt. Beefheart, other music mostly in the Blues area. When I played some of my music for him, he found it interesting but really didn't know what to do with it. He had a rock band in the 60s, but I was the next generation and saw even a little further then than he did. Which was odd for him, as he was seeing far beyond what our parent's and their cohorts (and worse, their older generation of leaders) could see.

The thing is, to open your mind, to see beyond what you can see, to always strive for what you do not understand, and to be able to understand it, to think outside of the box, enhances your life, kicks up the quality of your life a notch, and helps you to even problem solve in other areas of your life.

And people think we don't need the Arts. Sometimes, they are our salvation, but people just can't see beyond needing to pay the mortgage. Its why we should be pushing the Arts in schools, over that of Sports. Kids need to have physical conditioning, but society needs to have the Arts. And both then, bleed into, onto, through, the other in that symbiotic way that things tend to do.

Defy expectation, strive to enjoy the unusual. Expect more.

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