ONE HOUR WITH OPERA
On Its Nineteenth Annual Conference
December 8-10, 1988
The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
By Christopher Fulkerson
Written for OPERA GUIDE Magazine
First Published at ChristopherFulkerson.com
LISTING BY NOMENCLATURE
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A panel on "artistic trends" was given in the Grand Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel on the second day of the recent Opera America annual conference, held this year in San Francisco. Given Opera America's place in the survival and increasing corruption of the most sublime art of opera, any panel claiming to address artistic trends is an important one. And, unfortunately, the selection of panelists does indeed, I think, indicate the de facto artistic concerns of Opera America.
These are, evidently and in brief, to continue to keep opera away from its historical position as the darling of the avant-garde, as the only genre in which the highest musical thought of any era's composers, and the lowest common demoninator of any era's public, may meet with glee; to prevent opera from reflecting a time even as recent as the end of the Romantic era, let alone the Twentieth Century; and to foster all those received superstitions which have prevailed since the time of Adolf Hitler's art exhibit "Entartete Kunst" created the field of Arts Promotion and became the model for all the currently prevailing ideas about how, in any art form, opera included, to be Important, the art music be Accessible (whatever that is), somehow popular, and be well-attended; that, to be Good, music must be Tonal (whatever that is), somehow popular-sounding, and loud; that composers, when they are even to be Mentioned By Name, music be Realistic (whatever that is), must carefully espouse a neo-Populist, Politically Correct musical esthetics, and ought best to be ignorant of the workings of the human voice (in order to come up with New and Original uses for it, and incidentally to prove what bad stuff contemporary opera is anyway). ("Entartete Kunst" and its promotional methods were in fact created for this kind of agenda, and will complete this kind of agenda, regardless of what they are being used to promote.) And of course one of Opera America's artistic assumptions is that Singers, to be Important, Good, and Mentioned by Name, need merely to get a contract to singan opera somewhere similarly Important, Good, and Mentioned By Name. The idea that an opera might become successful despite a humble introduction in a small house is alien to the art of opera at the present time.
The present state of operatic affairs cannot be better deplored that through these words of Miss Manners, aka Judith Martin, a woman whose thinking is to be taken seriously, and who, unknown to many, is a professional philosopher with a degree in that discipline. She writes,
"We Americans, as an optimistic
nation, are prone to believe that new techniques are always turning up that
will perfect life: that education can make people happy, patriotic, and ethical,
not simply educated, as if that were not difficult enough; that art can be a
deep, personal expression that is nevertheless universally accessible; that
television and film executives could, if they were only willing, provide an
around-the-clock choice of high quality entertainment; that therapeutic techniques
exist that can remove all emotional pain; that a diet will be discovered that
makes it possible to eat all we want and lose weight; that sex can be improved
It would seem that Opera America optimistically believes that if we call a trend "current," that makes it so; that if we deplore or ignore those compositional idioms which we wish to hold accountable for our failure to fill giant halls with everincreasingly large groups of Happy Campers, that these idioms will go away; that if we fill the public's mind with tales of singers and opera plots, of anecdotes about dead composers and about Great Operatic Disasters, this will constitute education about the art; that opera can be a deep, personal expression that is nevertheless universally assessible; that composers could, if they were only willing, provide an unending stream of high quality and recognizably Great Music; that a musical system already exists which will take away all the physical difficulties which prevail upon singers engaged in learning untried roles, as well as make it possible to remove from art all that annoying Modernist expressive pain; that theater can be improved upon.
The panel consisted of Colin Graham, of the Opera Theater of St. Louis, who both participated and moderated, and is the only person who, when he spoke, did so with brevity and integrity; critic George Heymont; impressario George Coates; so-called composer John Adams; and director Robert Israel. Unless he spoke during the brief moments I was late to the panel, this lastmentioned might not have participated at all, since he did not utter a peep while I was listening.
To begin with, the presence of George Coates on the panel is a scandel. Why an impressario of rock operas should be telling opera professionals, who we hope are informed about the history and literature of the art, that "...opera is about synthesis... opera companies... should look for people who synthsize," must remain a mystery. (Coates further embarrassed himself by saying that the SF MOMA is "...very responsive... to living artists." He is the only person in the San Francisco Bay Area I have heard claim this.)
Now, no one, least of all a composer like myself who is genuinely intrigued with what Coates does, can debate the brilliance of certain aspects of his shows; their evident success; the apparent fluency with which he usually gets good results from sometimes interesting performers; and the potentially very great importance his method could have -- if only the music he commissions were capable of being borne by intelligent listeners.
If the Opera America crowd thinks that Coates should be panelated for the positive reasons I've just outlined, I think they should remind themselves of the role of music in opera, and the intellectuial sources of the art. They should consider that Coates keeps his shows his own, and popular, by employing only the most most impoverished music in them.
As any student of opera is supposed to know, the synthetic art form we dub opera -- after all, the word opera means "the works" -- started out as a research project of Renaissance intellectuals, who thought they were reviving a classical Greek literary, not a musical, form. The Renaissance Italians found, however, that, in the hands of a skillful composer, the text, regardless of its meaning, attains only that meaninig which the composer wishes it to have. This happens whenever a skillful composer takes up the art -- he gives the story his own meaning, his own purposes.
Coates cannot allow this to happen, else not only will his shows, like any kind of well-made music, risk being unpopular; they will be far less his own. It is no surprise that Coates's shows are popular -- there are indeed few rock operas that flop, a fact which must account for the credibility Opera America has extended through its invitation. Success like Coates's will indeed be interesting to persons too concerned with the Two Deities of Opera Production, namely audience size, and the credibility which unfortunately still and may forever accrue to a company for presenting works of the Status Repertoire. Coates doesn;t do the Status Repertoire, but he certainly fills halls, so Opera America thinks his words are worth listening to.
(What, after all, if not to elevate the spiritual consciousness for ourselves and the public, is our reason to produce any work we already know? Because we already know it's Good? Because musicans need work? Not even for these reasons, no: but, apparently, because we and the stars we want to hire, admire, photograph and/or otherwise "discover," already know them.)
Let us think about whether we are being relevant here. In order to divide up the vast world of music into manageable parts, our ethnomusicological colleagues define "classical music" as a theorized art, and a "folk music" as an untheorized art. Is it Ivory Tower of me to point out that Coates does not even use "classical music," according to anybody's definition of it, in his shows? I think not:opera is the only major genre in the world which was actually invented, by intellectuals around a seminar table. It did not evolve out of any previous genre. And it was invented by intellectuals, who are the only people who can do such things, and who met in camerate to debate and theorize. They read Aristotle, translated Plato and Plotinus, and eventually came up with a synthesis of all the arts describable by theory. A synthesis which, they discovered to their surprise, belongs to the composer. Not to the impressario, or to the board of directors, or to any service organization.
I am not as disturbed by the fact that the music Coates uses is bad as I am by the fact that it's not the music of professionally credible composers. If there is any concern about opera as a synthesis of the arts, then let us acknowledge where the synthesizing idea came from, and why. It came from people who wanted to blend the highest art forms available to them. Only some of Coates's technology -- though not, as he himself presumably knows, its visual product itself -- are new elements to the stage. We need not toss out Coates's shows as worthless; I do not tire of praising the good they might have come to, if only, et cetera.
But the issues of collaboration which are purportedly raised by Coates as though he were inventing the wheel in his work are far from having found literate artistic solutions. The jury is still out with regard to Coates and his methods. Up to now, he has provided us with a very healthy folk art phenomenon. One which, in my opinion, in the hands of the right composer certainly could invigorate opera as much as, say, the popular improvisatory theater of the commedia dell'arte once did, and in fact got it through the only previous difficulties which even begin to approach for terror its present crisis.
Which is not a crisis in opera composition, but a crisis in opera production.
There seems to be a problem finding opera impressarios who will be actual artistic leaders. Commissioning one or two new operas during an entire tenure is an appalling piece of artistic irresponsibility, and a betrayal of public trust. As Elliott Carter said of the public neglect of Roger Sessions'smusic, "It would be an outright American scandal, if such neglect were not so common."
Though I profess some interest in Coates's shows, there is at least one feature of his so-called working method that disturbs me greatly. He observed that "Most of what we do... really doesn't work. Maybe one event in ten does...it takes me a year to develop a show."
One is drawn to the simple conclusion that if he got the composers to actually write the pieces in advance, thus sparing large teams of people many hours of ultimately unproductive work, he could do ten times as many shows. He would do an actual season! But evidently there would be nothing "new" in this.
What further disturbes me about Coates is the size of his budget. It would seem that, if he went about his business in a professional and literate way, he could reduce his budget by ninety percent, just by hiring collaborators who can think and be articulate about the craft in conference and in their own studios, rather than during such a protracted time period. But this might not be an Original New Method of producing work. It even sounds like an ordinary, well-run opera company, nothing innovative in that. The inflated duration of Coates's production period, the ultrbanal pop idiom he has chosen, the absence of a professionally viable musical foundation in a fundamentally musical genre, and the huge budgets with nevertheless relatively high returns on them, all suggest that George Coates's work does not belong in the non-profit sector as it is presently conceived, let alone as a part of that body of serious work which makes a reasonable bid to be more than entertainment.
The bottom line of Coates's success, and of his method, is that, in order to keep his own contribution to a show high, or in any case evident, and in order to insure the popularity of these shows, he keeps the music impoverished. Coates could not have been selected for this panel for his creative ideas. The impressarios of Opera America chose him because he too is an impressario, and because the see in him a colleague who appears to do what they do, but in a something creative way. But again I say, the verdict is still out on his work. And to listen to Coates hold forth about opera, seems to suggest that O.A. has a far too relaxed idea of what opera is. Its mind is so open, its brains have fallen out.
In response to the idea of a new show as an exmeriment which, as he put it, "May develop in zilch," Colin Graham showed some much-needed sobriety by observing that such a practice is "very expensive." He then passed the microphone to George Heymont.
Haymont is the editor of Opera Monthly, a new glossy tabloid full of photos of singers. On the present scene, he agreed with Coates's numerical calculation, though he came to it from a different direction. He said that only ten percent of shows are good. "I wade through a lot of dreck... good performances are not happening where people or critics [sic] are going."
Good opera "Is not at Lincoln Center." Haymont likes the consortium-style efforts, and cited John Adams' Nixon in China as an example of this. Haymont has a journalist's talent for prosaic speech: about the much- and tediously-deplored existence of an "increasingly anti-intellectual audience," he shouted that that audience is hardly even equipped to read supertitles.
I have strong doubts about the anti-intellectualism of the operagoing audience. I suppose I have more faith in them than that. Real anti-intellectuals don't attend opera at all, they initiate legislation for, vote for, and build and attend events at sports stadia, those arenas in which compete the gladiators of our present American Empire. I don't meet these people at opera performances, though I do meet people who study libretti before going to the opera. Such study is the opposite of anti-intellectual. Just observing the larger community around the opera company I know best, the Greater San Francisco Bay Area has the highest book buying public in the United States. We have the ony full-time independent professional chorus in the country, the most successful new music group in the world, and the only professional vocal ensemble in the Western Hemisphere (if I can keep it out of bankruptcy). The Bay Area is the Video capital of the world. At opera, symphony, and other types of concerts, this audience has come to expect the highest caliber of program notes in the nation.
The anti-intellectualism we have really to fear is not that which Haymont imagines exists in the public, which, in my experience, is eager for new things. The anti-intellectualism we ought to beware is that of the artists themselves, and of their direct supporters, and of their critics, and of their service organizations.
But I wouldn't pretend the opera audience is crammed with intellectuals, either. Once upon a time, when it was closer to its seminar origins, opera was indeed an intellectual art -- when Wagner popularized the idea of the subconscious; when Mozart helped to popularize the idea that a common barber could have his way with the ruling class; when Monteverdi put long Platonic monologues into the mouth of an actual philosopher. No production, old or new, is needed of Carmen, and the other twenty or so operas we normally have the opportunity to see. There is no such thing as a "revival" of Pelleas et Melisande, or even of Die Frau Ohne Schatten. These works are performed at the expense of other pieces which go unheard; and, by now, there is little artistic reason to perform Don Giovanni, if there is no historical reconstruction of the music itself.
I have on my desk a article on Proust and Wagner, printed a couple of years ago in the very opera "in-house" publication to which Mr. Haymont alluded with scorn, saying loudly of his own publication that "There is at last a good magazine on opera." This article, which I use to teach with, is well written and well edited, and contains information that is worth knowing. To judge from the issue of his magazine which he distributed at the conference, Mr. Heymont is on the down side of intellectualism. His periodical is just more operasingerolotry.
I do however agree with Haymont that there is a considerable need for an opera magazine that is not "in-house." Heymont made the important observation that there is now enough support for the regional opera comapnies that lately, when New York calls Idaho to raise money, Idaho now says No, we give money to our own regional company. It is a continual dissappointment that New York can supposedly still respond with the words, "But then the money isn't going to New York..." This scenario accurately describes the states of the art of opera in this country, a state still dominated by the Big Pig mentality of programming. This approach is assisted by the domination of the field of opera production by the Metropolitan Opera's own journal. And this domination of the field of opera publication is aided by the presence of picture books like Heymont's, and by the Metoid character of, say, Opera Quarterly. The Met's publicity machine should be studied by everyone pretending an interest in promoting opera, and caring little enough about purposes higher than entertainment that they can offer their own publicity department a repertoire bill as easy to sell, meaning with as little new work in it, as the Met's has.
Whenever the microphone passed briefly through Colin Graham's hands I wished I could have heard him speak at greated length. Hearing him make a tidy observation about Kabuki Theater or give some terrific off-the-cuff suggestion that it is imporant to include young singers and yes, he even said: young composers! in the life of an opera house was enough to make him the Deus ex machina of an event otherwise saturated in polemics, and baked in ignorance.
And, I should add, served to a collection of opera professionals who were variously irresponsible and uninterested in, or responsible and angry with, the whole presentation.
In response to Haymont's tiresome complaining about the imaginary anti-intellectual audience, Graham said he would like to "Persuade young singers to attend other arts" events, and cited the spoken theater as a place where singers can "learn about all the things that actors do to deal with all the problems which have been dealt with by the composer." As I said above, the composer's own "reading" of a text is what makes opera the composer's art, and not, say, the impressario's. That Coates incidentally tends to avoid words at all does not mean his shows lack a "text" in the sense of a program, and even a sub-text, usually in the form of an aping of received ideas which betray the integrity of a proper liberalism. These texts and subtexts are often supplied by the slide demonstrations. I think it would be a mistake to think that the public is less clear about Coates's superficially abstract plots than it is clear about the more salient features of an opera's plot.
Graham's or my own observations about the facts and historical effects of good text setting would be academic if some of the persons surrounding Graham didn't need so badly to hear them. I was gratified that someone on the panel considered for a moment how we professionals might go about changing the deplorable condition of opera, opera, opera.
I believe that the real answer to the present plight of opera is plainly to admit that there are some really good modern pieces, and do them, and often. Let's hear the Sessions-Borghese opera Montezuma, or the Knussen-Sendak operas, or both, or all three in three successive seasons. Let's commission an opera from Frank Zappa, a far more interesting composer in his own right than the rock'n'rollers that Coates uses. Let's fulfill through enough promises of productuions Kurt Herbert Adler's quarter-century dream of getting Elliott Carter to write an opera, who only refrains from the genre due to justifyable skepticism about the world of opera impressarios. Let's do Bernard Rands' work in progress on the life of van Gogh. Let's commission an opera from Peter Lieberson, whose music is both sophisticated and capable of reflecting a really popular American Musical Theater influence. If they are done in a spirit of celebration, giving due pomp to composer and librettist, these types of projects will work.
But to even imagine such projects, impressarios would have to watch the whole field of contemporary music with interest.Obviously, they scarcely know what modern music is, or they wouldn't have John Adams on their panel.
Now, before I treat you to them, a word about my own comments on John Adams' comments. You should understand that, though I am writing with considerable acidity about the whole polemical panelation, I am a composer with little political power, and am therefore taking a risk to plunge in and say what I'm going to say. In fact, I have little more to my credit than a stack of scores; seven years of professional music making in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere; a repertoire list of some fifty premieres and commissions on unaccompanied non-tonal vocal works; experience as the founder of the Berkeley Opera Chorus; authorship of a successful musicianship training program used at the San Francissco Girls Chorus; and oh a resume otherwise crammed with activities and concern for my audience and my fellow composers --- in other words, I have nothing that will protect me from the cold fingers of John Adams' -- and his wife's -- political clout in the national grantgiving machinery.
Of all the deplorable conditions of modern music, the composer's in the worst state of all, even worse, be that imaginable, than the state of opera, since, to get grants, we must make music not for any public that we may be able to develop, but for those composers who are more powerful than we are. Or those impressarios who are only willing to risk doing works in impoverished anachronistic or illiterate styles, or those service organizations who would like to pretend that an artistic failure is a success because people are not overchallenged by its music and show up in droves. In short, a youngster like me has little to gain, nothing to preserve but the integrity of the art for which he speaks, and possibly something to lose by suggesting that John Adams has acheived his present position primarily through politics and polemics, and that his skills as a composer are dubious. And I would shy away from making such suggestions if Adams would only himself refrain from being polemical.
After all, a composer should write what he wants to write. But if he has to get somewhere through polemics and spreading ignorance and disinformation about other composers' styles, why then he is subject to a higher court.
Let us discuss a straighforward esthetics: every work makes its own bid for some kind and amount of attention. If a work makes a modest bid, and meets it well, it is a better work -- though not necessarily a work more useful to composers -- than a pretentious one that fails to live up to its bid.
According to this theory, then Candide, a genre-elevating work, is better than the Gypsy Baron, which is better than the Merry Widow, which is a better work than Cats, which is a better work than Tosca, which is a better work than Nixon in China, which is a better work than Akhenaten, which is the phoniest piece of quatsch imaginable outside of a university.
In trying to satisfy God, Bach satisfied many lesser beings too. But Adams does not succeed in creating better work than Rogers and Hammerstein. This is most unfortunate for those members of the audience who feel browbeaten into listening to John Adams' music. In a climate in which Nixon in China is somehow automaticall better for being an "opera" than the musical The King and I, it is no wonder that there is this phony "reevaluation" of the Broadway musical going on at the New York City Opera and elsewhere.
It does not seem to be enough for John Adams that he writes in one way, and other composers, in other ways. He tries to discredit "atonal" music, above all with the preposterous idea that it is less grateful for the voice than what he writes. He obviously doesn't know Wagner's vocal writing very well. As a sometime Lockean liberal, there is only one thing I will not tolerate, and that's intollerance. Intollerance like John Adams'.
Graham passed the microphone to Adams with considerable florish, preparing the way for real gems of wisom on the general subject of How Can We Get New Operas Performed. Adams' immediate comment was that "If they're good operas, they'll be performed."
To hear this, the hundreds of people in attendance made travel plans months in advance.
"I'm very much aware that the currency of opera has dropped in the twentieth century," said Adams without explaining what this ought to mean to a roomful of people who presumably are there because they believe in the art of opera. He went on to say that for this alleged drop in "currency," "I frequently blame the composers themselves." Now, I might agree with him here. But he hardly supported his claim in a reasonable way.
"Schoenberg set the tone... Schoenberg was a model for composers." Nevertheless, "Recently there's been a Renaissance of musical language." This statement, also unexplained, is meant to find its meaning in an assumption: that when the musical system Adams wants to pretend he uses, but in fact does not use, namely tonality, ceased to be used about a century ago, something precious and musical died, to which this recent "tonal Renaissance" has given rebirth. To judge from opera programming around the country, this ignorant assumption is one that is shared by most of the people associated with Opera America. So Adams did not need to explain further. Adams is a composer who doesn't like modern music, and he spoke to a group of people who don't like it either.
But these comments of Adams's are just barefaced polemics. The reality is, that according to current thought about the tonal system, meaning Schenker analysis and other forms of linear description of music, John Adams' music is no more tonal than a hollow log, since his music relies so heavily on repetition that it does not contain linear growth in its textures. There might be familiar harmonies and a superficial impression of melodic activity, but there is no formal-melodic thread in Mr. Adams' music.
If you do not know what I'm talking about, I hope you do not select repertoire at an opera house.
The absense of linear growth means a music is bad. It isn't behaving like music. It's boring to those who know how to listen to music.Such music is written expressly for people who don't know how to listen to music.It is written with their limitations in mind. Such limitations put certain audience members out of the running as competent listeners, but Mr. Adams has gone into business to make that sector feel fulfilled. Mr. Adams's music is only tonal in the most superficial definition of tonality, as a collection of linked triads. This is to say, that there is no "Renaissance" going on here. Only program notes about it.
"Atonal music is a problem for the voice," Adams declared. Because "Some kind of common language is needed... a lingua franca..." Are we to fail to notice that there is a step in logic missing here? Since when did tonality make music easy to sing for the sole reason that it's tonal? Once upon a time, "Music just sounded like pop music..." though it was an "Immensely elevated art form... I'm an American composer...pop music is second nature to me."
Now, anybody with a fondness for Schoenberg's music more genuine than Adams's is going to be alarmed with the comic-book reasoning Adams uses to leap this giant composer with a single bound. All his life Schoenberg had the most sentimental attachment to all sorts of popular music, and this fondness is forever bursting at the seems of his music. To name only one example, Schoenberg wrote Pierrot Lunaire -- the single most influential piece of chamber music in history -- on the model of the popular Berlin Ueberbrettl cabarets, from which he hailed as a compositional youth, and where he worked as his very first job as a composer. In point of modernist fact, Schoenberg's style left much to be desired in its reliance on old fashioned, "popular" rhythms, melodic shapes, forms, et cetera. Still, this can make it very possible to market Schoenberg's music, as was done in Santa Fe a few years ago in an excellent all-Schoenberg evening, as is done once in a while with Pierrot, and could be done with extravagant success with Moses und Aron and any number of other works. (Typically in his ignorance, Adams referred to Schoenberg's "opera" in the singular, as though Moses und Aron is the composer's only work in the genre.)
But what Adams means by "popular" music is merely that music which sounds somehow pop-ish, as though it might have wide appeal. I find that Adams is in fact betraying the popularity that has been entrusted to him, and for which he makes such a desperate bid.
Adams began by admitting that when he wrote Exxon in China, he had had "Very little experience with opera." Or with the voice.
Of the lessons John Adams could have learned about the voice before writing his Chicken Ninja, there is the item of the tutti unison of 150 or more composers, which included the tenors on a high B, in his curiously-titled Harmonium; this unison was inaudible over the instrumental din demanded by this elsewhere-praised "master of orchestration." When Adams was approached about the problem of a note screamed by 150 people being inaudible over his over-orchestration, he just suggested that the singers sing louder!
To gain the trust of groups like Opera America this composer explains that he participates in a popular Renaissance of tonality; to do this he even lays stress on the "pop." We aren't supposed to realize that his music isn't pop music, just Rakhmaninoff without the spirit, flesh, bones, or marrow. To gain intellectual credibility, and to try to obviate that higher court of appeals which Schoenberg's name immediately suggests, Adams pays brief and utterly hypocritical lip service to Schoenberg as a "model." To do this, he had presumptuosly and boringly entitled an orchestra piece after Schoenberg's textbook on harmony! Yet he overtly insinuates that Schoenberg wrote music that killed harmony, in styles that had nothing to do with a proper music-making! And he can banter that term of annoying disinformation, "atonal," a term which the author of the textbook Harmonielehre did not acknowledge, preferring the much more accurate and positive term "pantonal." As Schoenberg pointed out, we don't call van Gogh's canvasses "achromatic," simply because they partake of the entire color spectrum. Why then call contemporary musics "atonal," because genuinely modern styles (unlike Mr. Adams') partake of the entire tonal spectrum?
I'll tell you why: for reasons of politics and polemics. It is easy to believe violence of a drunk. It is easily to believe unpopularity of the "atonal."
Down with such antimodernist polemics! Up with pantonality and responsible, inventive creativity! Coates's rock operas, Adams's polemical Nixon, and Haymont's photo tabloid all submit to the very anti-intellectuals whom all but Adams deplores. In so submitting, they do bring the present audience ever closer to becoming an orthodox anti-intellectual one. Coates; Adams; Haymont; Opera America; they are all self-inconsistent, they all lack integrity. If Opera America wants popularity, it should cease producing operas.
To justify his failure to learn how to combine instruments with voices, our "master of orchestration" explains that he did not attend concerts during his apprenticeship, if that period of his be thought to be over. Not because he lacked the money, but because he had other priorities. I do like this; it is laudable honesty. It also gives great ammunition to his enemies, such as myself.
But how then can he expect us to greet with enthusiasm his explanation that the text and even the vocal lines of Nixies Chinois are inaudible because microphone technology "Is in its infancy?"
Which it isn't!
We are to think that this music is vocally grateful, when we know it's not? We are to think that this music is vocally grateful, because it is supposedly tonal? Since when has tonality, or any system, ever guaranteed gratefulness of vocalism? Or for that matter insured its ungratefulness?
Just whose technique is in its infancy here?
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December 23-26, 1988
Copyright 1988 by Christopher Fulkerson