REVIEWS OF BOOKS 389 The Schillinger System of Musical Composition. By Joseph Schillinger. 2 vols., pp. 1,640. (Carl Fischer, New York, 1946.) $30.00. Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. By Nicolas Slonimsky. pp. 243. (Coleman Ross, New York, 1947.) From the time of Pythagoras music and mathematics have been loosely spoken of as twin-arts, yet not very much vital evidence has been forthcoming to prove the proposition. Noting this lack, the late Joseph Schillinger subjected music to such a detailed scientific and mathematical scrutiny that he rationalized it out of existence and substituted two volumes of analysis incomprehensible to those who are not mathematicians. To what purpose ? The answer is given in the introduction to Mr. Slonimsky's volume: " The scales and melodic patterns . . . are systematized in a manner convenient to composers in search of new materials " (reviewer's italics). But creation is emphatically not the picking and choosing of formulae derived from analysis, and it seems to me that the whole art of composition is undermined if, as is suggested in these volumes, anything is approved provided evidence can be given that it is mathematically logical. Music is extensible, but only through the acceptances of the creative mind. Analysis can show logic after the event, but can point to no certain course in the future and say: " This and not that is Downloaded from http://ml.oxfordjournals.org/ by guest on September 11, 2014 The vigorous honesty which lies behind this exaggerated philosophy is both stimulating and engaging. So much of it wanted saying. Not all of it wanted writing. The written word carries implications which are far deeper than the charming provocations and fervent exaggerations of friendly discussions in the artists' room, the studio or the club. And yet, for all its inconsistencies and its illogicalities, this is a vastly entertaining book. The host of Mr. Baker's friends and admirers—and I count myseif among the latter—will thoroughly enjoy its characteristic boldness and candid pungency, while not agreeing with all its tenets. But to the young singing-student its doctrines are dangerous. He who reads: " The Englishman steadfastly refuses to associate singing or acting with too much functioning of the intellect" (p. 6) will set a lazy limit to his own intellectual development. And the subsequent dictum (p. 48): " Treat the audience with respect, and so preserve your own self-respect, and your own soul as an artist and performer " may seem, in consequence, to be little more than a convenient equivocation. Over-simplification, such as " A singer who has to be taught how to sing recitative has no sense of acting " (p. 37), is as dangerous as is petulant scholarship in the matter; and it may well encourage some curious " histrionics ". Mr. Baker's honest dislike of highbrows and doubts about music critics will be transmuted all too easily by the singing tyro into a sheer indifference towards musical values and a contempt for sincere musical judgments. In all sincerity I would say to Mr. Baker that he is inclined to " shout " in this book. From the success and versatility of his long and honourable experience he can draw a quieter strength than this—which, shorn of invective and personal prejudice, could give to the young singer that studied counsel and sober wisdom he so sorely needs. But in that case Mr. Baker should consult his musical rather than his novelist friends. S. N. 390 MUSIC AND LETTERS Challenge to Musical Tradition: a new Approach to the Analysis and Under- standing of Musical Structure. By Adele T. Katz. pp. 408. (Putnam, London, 1947.) 25s. The reader who survives Miss Katz's monumental work with faculties unimpaired is to be congratulated. We dispute neither the author's sincerity nor her industry—this latter, indeed, is prodigious—but we must deplore a formidable combination of pedantry and stylistic infelicity. We suffer, too frequently, verbal bombardment after this manner: Thus, when we speak of a motion within a chord, the reader will understand: (1) that the chord has been horizontalized; (2) that the arpeggiated interval forms a space-outlining motion; (3) that the passing chords within this space are of a contrapuntal and prolonging nature; and (4) that the motion as a whole constitutes a prolongation of a single horizontalized chord. The reader will, in fact, be fortunate if he understands anything at all. We pass sadly by the murky waters of American musical terminology: " horizontalization ", " chord-arpeggiation " (the key-words of trie thesis), " structural top voice ", " prolonging techniques in structural organism", "space-outlining", "space-filling", "embellishing motion", and so on. We reflect that while Prout challenged no traditions he made the incipient composer to understand what, we are sure, may now be termed " primordial structuralization ". There is no denying Miss Katz's ingenuity. She proposes a conclusion and proceeds to discipline facts to the conclusion, which is, in brief, that the influence of one chord may be extensive. We apply the lesson we have learned to familiar things and reason thus: ' God save the King ' is a horizontalization of the tonal centre of G; the first inversion of the supertonic on the third quarter (from the German, for crotchet) of the first measure provides not a harmonic but a contrapuntal, maybe a Downloaded from http://ml.oxfordjournals.org/ by guest on September 11, 2014 the more fruitful way ". There is a wonderful appendix in the ' Thesaurus ' giving a synopsis of chords: the " Pandiatonic Tone-Cluster " which looks more like a weighted ear of corn than anything else, the " Pentatonic Tone-Cluster " with its sharps looking like a swarm of bees, the " Chord of the minor 23rd " containing all twelve chromatic notes and four mutually exclusive triads, the " Grandmother Chord " (solemnly declared to have been invented by the author on February 13th 1938) containing all twelve chromatic notes and eleven symmetrically invertible intervals. But aurally these chords are horrible, and it seems completely purposeless to give them in vacuo without any justifying context. One cannot recommend these volumes for serious study (except perhaps that the pianist will find some interesting technical patterns in the ' Thesaurus '), but rather for hilarious entertainment and for the optimism of the statement: " There are 479,001,600 possible combinations of the 12 tones [sic, what is wrong with " notes " ?] of the chromatic scale. With rhythmic variety added to the unbounded universe of melodic patterns, there is no likelihood that new music will die of internal starvation in the next 1,000 years ! " No, it is more likely to die of the external starvation induced by the pseudo-vitamins of Messrs. Scbillinger and Slonimsky. E. R.
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