Music in Ruinsssia and USA

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Culture is one of the most important components, which form every
nation. It is one occurrence that distinguishes and unites all the
people who live in the world. But it is impossible to imagine the
culture without music, a very big part of our life.

Every nation has one’s own music and I think that inside music are
concluded all peculiarities of the nation, it is contain the key for
understand the soul of people.

When I was associated with foreigners (they were Americans) I noted
that they liked our folk music, they frequently listened it and each of
them had without fail an audiocassette with Russian folk music. They
told me about the most popular in United States Russian singers and
composers. Our pop music is not famous outside Russia. But many people
from other countries love our folk and classical music.

On the contrary we know nothing about American folk and classical music
and I would like to discuss about it.

By my opinion a serious study of American music is arrestingly
important at this time. Music has become on of American leading
industries American performing standards are probably now higher than
anywhere else in the world, and Americans are making rapid strides in
music education. How large a part in all this activity is American music
to play? How good is it? How does it differ from Russian music?

There are many signs of an awakened interest in American composition.
More of it is performed, published, and recorded than ever before. This
interest is not confined to the United States alone. During the past few
years Russians who have always liked American popular music (like
Brithney Spears, Madonna, Michael Jackson) have discovered that America
have several composers in the serious field well worth its attention. As
for the foundations, fortunes are being spent to discover, to train and
to encourage American native talent.

We could imagine a pattern, which would include Billings, Harris and
Gershwin. Each of them contributed substantially to American musical
tradition, and when American can grasp their interrelationship they
perceive that there is indeed an American music, a hardy one just
beginning to fell its strength and destined to stand beside their other
contributions to world culture.

I would like to tell about my three favorites American composers.

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn on September 25, 1989. He was by
no means a prodigy, and his musical education was spasmodic. He took
lessons at the piano and later studied harmony. In his teens, he
acquired a job as song plugger at one of the largest publishing houses.
Before long he was writing songs of his own; and in 1919, he was the
proud present of a “hit” that swept the country – Swanee. His rise as
one of the most successful composers for the Broadway stage was rapid.

In 1924, he composed his first serious work in the jazz idiom, the
historic “Rhapsody in Blue” the success of which made Gershwin famous
throughout the world of music. After that he divided his activities
between writing popular music for the Broadway stage (and later for the
Hollywood cinema) and serious works for concert hall consumption. In
both fields, he was extraordinary successful and popular. He died in
Hollywood on June 11, 1937, after an unsuccessful operation on the

It is mainly since Gershwin’s death that complete awareness of his
musical importance has become almost universal. The little defects in
his major works – those occasional awkward modulations, the strained
transitions, the obscure instrumentation – no longer appear quite so
important as they did several decades ago. What many did not realize
then and what they now know – is that the intrinsically vital qualities
of Gershwin’s works reduce these technical flaws to insignificance. The
music is so alive, so freshly conceived, and put down on paper with such
spontaneity and enthusiasm that is youthful spirit refuses to age. The
capacity of this music to enchant and magnetize audiences’ remains as
great today, even with, familiarity, as it was yesterday, when it came
upon us with the freshness of novelty.

That he had a wonderful reservoir of melodies was, of course,
self-evident when Gershwin was alive. What was not quite so obvious then
was that he had impressed his identity on those melodies – his way of
shaping a lyric line, his use of certain rhythmic phrases, the piquant
effect of some of his accompaniments – so that they would always remain
recognizably his.

Other my favorite American composers is Roy Harris.

Few American composers of XX century and our time have achieved so
personal a style as Roy Harris. His music is easily identified by many
stylistic traits to which he has doing through his creative development:
the long themes which span many bars before pausing to catch a breath,
the long and involved development in which the resources of variation
and transformation are utilized exhaustively, the powerfully projected
contrapuntal lines, the modal harmonies and the asymmetrical rhythms are
a few of the qualities found in most Harris’s works.

Through Harris has frequently employed the forms of the past (toccata,
passacaglia, fugue, etc), has shown a predilection for ancient modes,
and en occasion has drawn thematic inspiration from Celtic folk songs
and Protestant hymns, he is modern in spirit. His music has a
contemporary pulse, the cogent drive and force of present –day living;
there is certainly nothing archaic about it. More important still, it is
essentially American music, even in those works in which he does not
draw his ideas from folk or popular music. The broad sweep of his
melodies suggests the vast plains of Kansas, the open spaces of the
West. The momentum of his rhythmic drive is American in its nervousness
and vitality. But in subtler qualities, too, Harris’s music is the music
of America. “The moods”, Harris once wrote, “which seem particularly
American to me are noisy ribaldry, then sadness, a groping earnestness
which amount to suppilance toward those deepest spiritual yearnings
within ourselves; there is little grace or mellowness in our midst”.

Such moods as noisy ribaldry, sadness, groping earnestness are caught
in Harris’s music, and to these moods are added other American
qualities; youthful vigor, health, optimism and enthusiasm.

Harris was born in the Lincoln country, Oklahoma, on February 12, 1898.
While still a child, he learned to play the clarinet and the piano. In
1926 he went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. In Paris he wrote
his first major works: of them, The Concerto for the Piano, Clarinet and
String Quartet (1927) was the most successful. His Fifth Symphony has
been dedicated to the “Heroic and Peace-loving People of the Soviet

I guess, we know nothing about American folk music excepting
jazz-singers and composers. The sole and the most famous of them is
Louis Armstrong. I believe that all people know this name and I would
like to tell about my favorite album of his legendary music, it’s called
“Louis and the Good Book”.

Anyone who has ever read a history book on jazz knows that there’s a
connection between jazz, spiritual music, work songs and the blues. But
often historians don’t explain this relationship clearly enough. The
phrasing of the arrangements for the brass and read sections in big jazz
bands are of course a direct inheritance from the preacher’s call and
the parishioner’s customary response in church. The some is true for
today’s funky songs, which derives from gospel. But all this illuminates
only specific styles without saying anything about the antecedence and
legacy of jazz in general. This album introduces some aspects of this
history and by my opinion is the best album of Louis Armstrong.

During the first three years of his recording career, Louis Armstrong
played blues and stomps. In fact, that was what he recorded in his very
first session with king Oliver in 1923. Then same rhythmical airs and
other hits of that era were added. During those years his technique and
musical concepts acquired such a degree of substance and affluence that
he became the first jazz virtuoso. Beginning with the late 20’s he added
a new kind of melody to his repertoire: the “ballad”. In these
interpretations another side of his talent unfolded, incorporating a
whole series of standards into his jazz repertoire. Standards refer to
themes taken up by all musicians. Thus, he not only demonstrated that
jazz phrasing is applicable to these kinds of melodies and tempos, but
he did it so well that the mood of show ballads became an integral part
of every form of jazz. This is not the first time that Louis Armstrong
interprets spirituals. In 1938 he recorded same versions of four pieces
with the Lynn Murray choir for MCA. Shadrack, based on the traditional
form of spirituals, Jonah and the Whale, Going to Shout All Over the
God’s Heaven and Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen. Two years later he
did a version of Cain and Abel with the big band he was directing at
that time. He had actually recorded Motherless Child in 1930. While the
melody is identical to the second part of the Dear Old Southland
interlude by Creamer and Layton, which he recorded in a duo with the
near legendary pianist Buck Washington, the melody of Motherless Child
is also very close to others that he used in several blues, better known
in their broad versions: Steady Roll, Round the Clock, My Daddy Rock Me.
So, a number of spirituals are blues at least in form.

On My Way in this volume obviously belongs to the blues, which are most
commonly known in the 12 measures from today. One stanza, musically of
four measures – iambic pentameter in prosody – the stanza is repeated
and finally a third stanza which rhymes with the first, completing the
couplet. Some maintain that in its most archaic form of the blues the
first stanza was repeated three times instead of twice, thus arriving at
a verse of 16 measures. On My Way is precisely of this format. Rock My
Soul belongs to a different category of blues with 16 measures. Each
chorus consists of a verse with eight-measures played in “stop-time”,
each time in a variation ending with the same refrain every time. If you
know Georgia Grind, which Louis Armstrong recorded in 1926, or
Hesitating Blues, by Handy, which he recorded in 1954, or even Blue
Suede Shoes, you know the shortened version in 12 measures of this type
of blues with refrain. Go Down Moses in this album is structured in this

A jazz musician playing spirituals? In a sense that Louis Armstrong has
been doing all along.

A few other features need to be painting out. The second chorus in Down
By the Riverside starts with a break (the steady rhythm being
interrupted for an instant) just the way it is in dozen of work songs.

In This Train there is so-called stop-time interlude, which Louis
Armstrong used so successfully in several of his instrumental renderings
during the 20’s. The “call and response” formula can be heard in This
Train, Didn’t it Rain, and Go Down Moses.

But for me Louis Armstrong’s greatest talent is the way he handles the
exposition of a melody. The trumpet solo in Swing low, Sweet Chariot and
down By the Riverside sow what I mean. Of course his play is forceful
and convincing. But there are suspensions; almost imperceptible melodic
changes showing his offbeat rhythm. All this will immediately and most
directly bring out the melody, enhancing it to a point of opening up new
vistas that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

The arrangements are by Sy Oliver who was also the musical director.
Oliver’s career as trumpeter – composer – arranger goes back to the time
of Zack Whyte’s orchestra in the early 30’s and he, more than anyone
else, created the style of Jimmy Lunceford’s powerful orchestra between
1933 and 1939. After that, he was Tommy Dorsey’s arranger and has since
become one of the principal arranger – directors for MCA.

As for pop American music I believe that since death of Frank Sinatra
in the U.S have not anyone real pop-singer. By my opinion “Sinatra was
America and America was Sinatra”.

Frank Sinatra has been called the greatest popular singer of the
century. Whether that is true, in a century that also offers us Bing
Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and many others is, of course, a matter of
personal emotional choice and, therefore, unknowable. What can be said
is that under the intense and fickle scrutiny of the pop marketplace for
nearly two-thirds of a century, Sinatra’s music was in the air the world
breathed and fell out of fashion only long enough for the deserters
either to grow up or recognize that what was offered in its place was
almost always trash by comparison.

Sinatra was born December 15, 1915, in Hoboken, N.J., and as a schoolboy
nursed ambitions to be a journalist. The earliest known example of
Sinatra on record come from his 1935 performance on the Major Bowes
Amateur Hour, in which he was matched with three other aspirants to sing
“Shine.” After the program they were sent out as a group, the Hoboken
Four, on a Major Bowes road show.

Sinatra touched the big time in 1939 when Harry James, fresh out of the
Benny Goodman band and not yet a major star in him own right, hired him
to be vocalists in his new band. In August he recorded “All Or Nothing
At All” with James, but the record would not become a major hit until
Columbia reissued it during the recording ban in 1943. Sinatra was on a
fast trajectory to the top himself. He left James to take an offer from
Tommy Dorsey, with whom he recorded more than 90 songs before he left.
The Dorsey years connected him to Axel Stordahl, who would arrange and
conduct the first four Sinatra records under his own name in 1942 and
become his chief musical architect for the next decade. He also made two
movies with Dorsey, Las Vagas Night at Paramount and Ship Ahoy at MGM.
But aside from two pictures with Gene Kelly, Sinatra’s film career would
be of passing interest until the 1950s.

The band singer period ended in September 1942. When Sinatra went out on
as a soloist, it was to join the stock company of vocalists on the
weekly “Lucky Strike Hit Parade.” But there was buzz in the air about
Sinatra, and it burst wide open when in 1943 when he was booked as a
supporting act to Goodman at the Paramount Theater. Goodman introduced
him, turned to kick off his band, and before he could lower his arm
heard an ear-shattering scream of 3,000 mostly female fans explode
behind him. “What they hell is that?” Goodman muttered.

During the bobby-sox years, Sinatra recorded for Columbia and turned out
a steady flow of romantic ballads backed by Stordahl’s tasteful
orchestrations. But nothing as intense as the Sinatra phenomenon of the
’40s could sustain indefinitely. The energy ran out of the Sinatra boom
and by the 1952, it is said, he was washed up.

With the ’40s behind him, however, the stage was set for his golden age.
Capitol Records signed him up and concentrated on marketing him to young
adults through carefully planned long playing albums organized around a
mood, an idea, a feeling, a concept. In the Wee Small Hours, crafted by
Nelson Riddle, became the matrix for his recording career from then on.
Among the ballad albums, All Alone, arranged by Gordon Jenkins in 1962,
stands in a class by itself for its stark sense of melancholy.

After Wee Small Hours, Sinatra turned to develop a side of his musical
personality that had never been exploited — the swinging Sinatra doing
upbeat tempos against jazz-styled big band charts that caught some of
the feeling that the new Count Basie band was generating on the
instrumental side.

The albums and a string of successful films took Sinatra into the ’60s
at the top of his fame and form. He played the Newport Jazz Festival in
the ’60s, recorded with the Basie and Ellington, and played the Chairman
to a colorful Clan that included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis and other
chums. Talent was the admission ticket.

Yet, the force of youth movement and rock music in the late ’60s and
early ’70s seemed to shake his own confidence in his own hipness, and he
tried to embrace some of the new material. But after a period of
retirement and a few false starts in the recording studio, he returned
to form doing the kind of music that told stories worth telling. In the
’90s his stubbornness paid off. The youth icons of the ’60s and ’70s
finally came to him to sing his song on his terms. Duets may have
received mixed critical reaction, but once again Sinatra was king of the
hill, scoring the largest album sales of his career.

Sinatra received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983. He died May 14,
1998, at the age of 82.

In 1998, Sinatra was elected by the Readers into the Down Beat Hall of

From the times of the Pilgrims American people have liked music and
made it a part of their lives. They have played and sung and fashioned
their own songs for all occasions.

There were, however, no European courts for the cultivation of art
music and opportunities were rare for the training and development of
individual talents. When sufficient number of professional musicians had
arrived to establish centers of serious musical culture American role as
a backward province of European music was firmly established. I was only
natural that the foreign arbiters of taste would regard any deviations
from European musical thinking as deplorable savagery to be resolutely
put down.

Small wonder, then, that a serious dichotomy developed in the field of
American composition. American educated young people, fresh from French
or German influences, did their loyal best to write good German or
French music. For subject matter they turned to “remote legends and
misty myths” guaranteed to keep them from thinking about the crudities
of the land, which they found so excruciating upon their return from
abroad. They did, however, bring back with them a professional
competence, which was to be their significant contribution to the
American scene.

Meanwhile the uneducated creator, finding good stuff about him, carried
on a rapidly developing music speech, which was a blend of European folk
music, African rhythm, and regional color, and discovered that the
public the public liked his music and was ready to pay for it
handsomely. As a result via the minstrel ballad, through ragtime into
jazz, a genuine popular American music made its appearance and was given
every encouragement by the entertainment industry. European musicians
were quick to recognize the originality and value of this music and,
beginning with Debussy, accepted it as a new resource.

The American serious group, however, anxious to preserve their
new-found dignity, nervously dismissed this music as purely commercial
(a lot of it was and is), and until it was made respectable by the
attention paid to it by Ravel and Stravinsky there were only occasional
attempts to borrow from its rhythms and melodies. The highly successful
popular group, on the other hand, has developed the notion that the
technique of composition is not only unnecessary but an affectation.
Such needs as may arise for their concerted numbers, ballets, and
orchestrations they can well afford to pay for from the hacks (the
underprivileged literate musicians). Gershwin’s contribution to the
American scene is significant beyond his music itself in that he was
able to reconcile the two points of view and achieve popular music in
the large traditional forms.

Americans are ex – Europeans, to be sure, and as such have
responsibilities to the preservation and continuance of European
culture, but American are also a race – and a vigorous one – and it is
increasingly evident that we are capable of developing cultural
traditions of our own.

As for Russian music it is impossible to describe its contribution to
the world musical culture, and will be difficult to estimate it. Of
course, the great musical occurrence is the Russian classical music, and
I would like to tell about my favorites Russian composers.

Sergei Procofyev was five when his mother gave him his first piano
lesson. At the age of six he was already composing and actually writing
small pieces for the piano and a few years later he write an opera to
his own libretto called The Giant. Procofyev graduated from the
Conservatoire in the spring of 1914. Taking his final exams as a
pianist, he won the highest distinction: the Anton Rubinstein gold medal
and prize.

Procofyev worked for nearly fifty years in all spheres and genres of
music. His powerful and original talent has won universal recognition.
His best works – and these are not few – have enriched the legacy of
world musical culture.

Procofyev belonged to the older generation of Soviet composers who
entered upon the scene before the October Revolution. He was a pupil of
Rimsky – Korsakov and Lyadov who educated the young composers of their
time in the spirit of the finest Russian classical traditions, which
they strove to protect from modernistic influences.

Procofyev was a man of independent thinking who traveled his own way.
He was one of the greatest masters of the new, Soviet period in the
history of the Russian music. Never satisfied with his achievements,
Procofyev was forever probing, forever working on new ideas. The
development of music in the first half of this century is unthinkable
without him.

Operas and ballets held an important place among the works he created.
The opera Love for Three Oranges was written in1919 and has become very
popular. Procofyev wrote another opera in the twenties – The Flaming
Angel, but did not live to see it on the stage. No more than two
fragments of it were performed in his lifetime.

Ballet music appealed to Procofyev even more than the opera. Besides
his Buffoon he wrote three other ballet scores while abroad – The Age of
Steel, The Prodigal Son, and On the Dnieper. The Fourth Symphony, the
last to be written abroad, was the most interesting.

Procofyev’s best works, written after his return to the Soviet Union
are: the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935 – 1936), the symphonic fairy –
tale Peter and the Wolf (1936), the heroic cantata Alexander Nevsky
(1938 – 1939), the opera War and Peace (1941), the Fifth Symphony
(1944), the ballet Cinderella (1944).

The last five years of his life brought such important works as the
Seventh Symphony, the oratorio On guard of peace, the symphonic suite
Winter Fire and the ballet The Stone Flower. Unforgettable are
Procofyev’s sonatas and concertos for violin and many other compositions
revealing the finest qualities of his tremendous talent.

Other greatest Russian composer is Igor Stravinsky.

Stravinsky was a pupil of Rimsky – Korsakov, but his reputation was
made by the music he wrote for the Diaghilev Ballet in Paris (The
Firebird, Petrouchka, The Rite of Spring). This period is marked by
interest in Russia folk song and brilliant orchestral coloring. The most
varied rhythms are used for percussive effects to accentuate the
brutally harsh sonorities, and a highly dissonant harmony results from
the use of polytonality.

About 1920, Stravinsky struck out in directions that were new, partly
in technique and partly in the kinds of subjects and mediums employed.
His technique showed a new restrained, a less dissonant and more tonal
style, and greater clarity of form; in short, a tendency toward the
neoclassic style. His material was typically drawn from the classics of
the eighteenth century. The great variety of the musical types after
1920 is astonishing: oratorios, chamber music, concertos, ballets,
symphonies, pieces for a piano, and so on. Every work of Stravinsky’s
has a special individuality, and in each he achieves a uniqueness of
style and solves a problem to which he seldom returns. Directly after
first World War, Stravinsky wrote a number of works marked by economy of
means and expression, using a few solo players (The Soldier’s Tale; The
Wind Octet). Later, in his “third” period, he returned to the larger
forms of the symphony (Symphony in Three Movements, 1945). Stravinsky’s
early interest in American jazz rhythms dates from Ragtime (1918). A
more ambitious work , Ebony Concerto (1945), for jazz band, appeared
after he had settled permanently in the United States.

On the whole, Stravinsky’s style is essentially anti-romantic. The
elasticity and primitive vigor of his rhythms was calculated to
represent his non-romantic subject matter, and his melodies, especially
in later works, are deliberately matter – of – fact, dry, and
occasionally commonplace, as a reaction to the expressive melodies of

Stravinsky uses the tonal material of the diatonic (seven – tone)
scale, sometimes combined with the old modes. His early polytonality is
replaced later by clearer tonality, but his dissonant harmony is often
the result of the combination of polyphonic voices. A special feature of
his style is parallel dissonant chords or intervals.

Stravinsky was always a virtuoso orchestrator. A fondness for the dry
brilliant sonorities of the woodwinds and particularly the percussion
instruments tended to relegate the strings to the background. To
individualize the voice parts of chords, Stravinsky often used
instruments of different timbre.

As a young man, Stravinsky burst on the musical scene with ballet The
Rite of Spring. It excited everybody, exhilarated a number, and outraged
more. Stravinsky’s later styles were also viewed with alarm – often by
those who had just accustomed themselves to his earlier style. They were
dry, the wells of inspiration had run out, some said. The truth was, of
course, that Stravinsky was simply being himself, and like every great
artist, his style changed, as he did, from work to work. No one,
however, has ever denied Stravinsky’s consummate draftsmanship, his deep
respect for the past, or his extraordinary impact on the music of the
present day.

As for Russian pop music I could say almost nothing. I don’t know a
contemporary pop singer or compositor who, by my opinion, bring in world
musical culture anything really great. But I think that our time
arranges to make anything memorable in the musical area and may be soon
we could see a birth a new Russian musical talent.

In conclusion I should say that music is the greatest occurrence in our
life. From this work we can see that music don’t has limits and however
it try to unite the people in the world. Someone famous said that
mathematics is the universal language. I’m ready to argue – music is the
universal language, because this language understands everyone. If you
want understand foreigner – listen his native music and you will see his
true soul.

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