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Music and History - Essay Example

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Music and History

Tower's works, moreover, evoke an energy, a use of color and texture which are uniquely her own, and which make them not only exciting to listen to, but continue the traditional lineage of Western art music (Scholes, 1979). Conductor Leonard Slatkin states that Tower's works come from the "roots" of the "traditional playing repertory. "He describes her work as being "a continuation of historical musical line, but late twentieth century work" (Slatkin, 1984, p. D3). As will be illustrated through reference to her works, with particular focus on Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, although Tower's music has strong ties to much of the music which came before her, through her use of orchestration, form and musical materials, her final product which combines these elements is not simply a repetition or imitation of what has been written, but an intertwining of these characteristics into the context of her own new musical work.
Tower's practical process of dea...
Her hands-on compositional process continued as she worked at the Greenwich Music School after she had graduated from Bennington, and with the Da Capo Chamber Players, a group which she co-founded, performed with and composed for from 1969 to 1984 (O'Brian, 1982; Tower, 1984; Humphrey, 1988). The sounds she heard were an ever present sound source for her own works. As she experienced music with the Da Capo players through study and performance of numerous pieces, these sounds came to be present in her own works, several of which were written especially for members of the ensemble whose performances and the sounds she heard them making in these performances were inspirational. Andre Emelianoff, a cellist from the Da Capo players for whom she wrote Music for Cello and Orchestra (1984), worked in close collaboration with Tower, allowing her to hear and work with the sounds of the instrument and the player making these sounds. She states, "We spent six months together meeting, working on bowing, on register. We really created this piece together" (Tower, 1984, n.p.).
Wings is an excellent example of how the sounds to which Tower was listening affected her composition. As Humphrey (1982) explains, there is nothing new or revolutionary in her writing a solo clarinet piece. Rather, this work clearly shows the influence of Messiaen's well known piece for solo clarinet, "Abime des Oiseaux," the third movement of the Quatuor Pour La Fin Bu Temps. Although Wings was written many years after Messiaen's work, Tower acknowledges her debt to Messiaen stating that "his use of slow time is astounding in that piece. It is really quite a brilliant piece, and it's [a] very risky piece because of its slow terrain" (Humphrey, 1988)
As well as drawing some of her ...Show more


Composers are a product of their environment and times. Even those who are described as ahead of their times' are a product of their environment and their music a reaction against, or a commentary upon, it. As such, musical compositions are influenced by a wide array of exogenous and internal, authorial factors, from the characteristics of the time to the composer's own reaction to them, including his/her perception of, and stand towards their musical heritage…
Author : hmarvin
Music and History essay example
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