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Rock and Its New Varieties
By GEOFFREY LINK
Chicago Tribune Service
That musical hybrid dubbed
rock. the offspring of Negro
blues. rhythm and blues. and
white rock 'n’ roll. now is three
years old and starting to show
signs of maturity.
Within the family of rock
music some distinct types are
For example. influenced by
electronic musicians like Karl-
heinz Stockhausen and John
Cage. some rock bands stretch
for freak effects or distortion.
Synthesizers capable of
producing sound never heard
before. also pre-recorded tapes.
exotic instruments and plain
gimmickry are enlisted by some
groups in the battle for a Sound.
Silver Apples. two men who
play a complicated oscillator
plus many instruments, is
perhaps the furthest out of the
pop electronic music bands. J imi
Hendrix has so successfully
harnessed feedback and other
electronic distortion that Rolling
Stone magazine chose his
“Electric Ladyland” as album of
the year. Steve Miller made
excellent use of pre-recorded
tapes in his mood»evoking
“Children of the Future” album.
and George Harrison recently
bought a Moog synthesizer which
he now is learning to play.
i e t
But meanwhile another group
is rocking towards jazz. The late
lamented Cream was headed in
that direction. And so is Blood.
Sweat and Tears. the Grateful
Dead and Led Zepplein. among
A third distinguishable
direction leads toward clasical
music. , Not just sympohony
orchestra backing for an
otherwise standard rock
piece—as the Beatles and the
Bee Gees have done lately—but a
definite trend toward
incorporating a classical music
structure with the usually less
complicated rock music.
The Who are at work on a rock
opera. Jerry Lee Lewis. an
oldie but goodie from the Fifties.
has finished a rhythm and blues
version of “Othello." The
Mothers of Invention include
operatic passages in some tunes.
Moody Blues worked out a
classicaHike form for their
album ”Days of Future Passed"
and recruited the London
Symphony Orchestra for the
The now-defunct Crome
Syrcus. author of the score for
the Jeffrey Ballet's "Astarte."
integrated elements of
symphonic music in their style.
Procol Harum‘s sound has been
termed ”Bach rock."
i t t
Ars Nova and the New York
Rock ‘n' Roll Ensemble are well-
grounded in classical music. The
Electric Prunes have written a
rock mass. And the New York
String Ensemble plays
transcriptions of baroque music
on electric guitars.
There are other indications
that pop music. already long-
haired in one sense. is going
classically long-haired in
another. Classical guitar sales
last fall advanced 10 per cent on
a year ago. according to a
Billboard survey. Columbia
Records “Bach to Rock“
campaign started last August
appears to be paying off.
The company‘s “Switched—on
Bach“ album. played on a Moog
synthesizer. is performing well
on record charts. ABC‘s
Westminister Records has
issued a New Generation Series
of classical offerings wrapped in
psychedelic packages titled “I
Dig Tchaikovsky" or I Dig
Mozart." but performed by
standard sympohony orchestras.
These are companies trying to
cash in on a new trend. but it is
the bands themselves that are
putting popular music through
Crome Syrcus. disbanded
several months ago. among rock
groups approached nearest to
classical music After the
success with the score for
“Astarte.” they worked on a
composition built on
Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
According to Ted Shreffler.
author of much oi the band's
music. it was a long piece titled
"Exploration of Self." which. he
said. “takes a person through the
seven stages of his growth from
infant to old man."
Since then The Who seems to
have picked up the lead. this
time toward opera. Peter
Townshend. the group's lead
guitarist. has written several
operas and the band has made
some hit songs derived from
them "Happy Jack." for
example. was from a Townshend
opera. and so was “I'm a Boy
The Who's latest opera is to be
called “Deaf. Dumb and Blind
Boy." according to Townshend
talking to Rolling Stone
“It’s a story about a kid that‘s
born deaf. dumb and blind and
what happens to him throughout
his life. The.. ..boy is played by
The Who the music entity He 5
represented musically by a
theme which we play which
starts off the opera and then
there’s a song describing the
deaf. dumb and blind boy." said
“But what it‘s really all about
is the fact that because the boy is
D. D and B. he’s seeing things
basically as vibrations which we
creating him as we play.
“Lyrically. it's quite easy to
do....but so much depends on the
music....Every pitfall of what
we're trying to say lies in the
music. lies in the way we play the
music. the way we interpret. the
way things are going during the
! Q 0
Robert Shelton, a New York
Times music reviewer, notes the
merging of some classical with
rock. but warns: “From the pop
standpoint. the trend toward
classical rock has the stern
limitations of available
musicians who can talk both
languages fluently enough."
This clearly is a drawback for
say. Frank Zappa of the Mothers
of Invention. it's no problem.
Zappa has written musical
pieces ranging from piano
sonatas to a major orchestral
work and acknowledges Edgar
Of course there is the
possiblity that the whole trend is
nothing more than a fad and will
die quickly like that Indian
music bent. Yet. because so
many of today's rock musicians
are well-grounded in music
theory and composition.
classical music inevitably has
some influence on rock.
Besides. most rock groups
already look long-hair. It‘s only a
translate as music....We are
novice rock musicians. But for.
step or two until they sound long-
ANAY LS i S ; music in review
by iohn penney
youth page staff
In the above article on music, Geoffrey Linke
says that some rock musicians seem to have
styled themselves after John Cage. I don‘t think
that this is possible. because Cage has a
philosophy of music that isn ‘t really musical at
Cage is an artist. He played with painting and
architecture before deciding to devote his life to
music. He studied with Schoenberg. and then set
off on his own. He has composed many works
for dancers — Merce Cunningham in particular.
Cage‘s music is best described in the liner
notes that Bernard Jacobson wrote for the
Nonesuch release of “Concerto for Prepared
Piano & Orchestra." composed in 1951. He said
that. to Cage. “Art is vigorous and useful just as
long as it continues to be irritating." That's
exactly what the music is; irritating. I think
that this is one reason why Cage could be
popular with an “irritated" generation such as
Cage has very little feeling for harmony. His
pieces therefore cannot be based on it. and are
instead based on complex rhythm patterns.
which sometimes seem so complicated that it
would take a mathematician to understand
I O t
These rhythms, coupled with the sharp
changes in dynamics that are prevalent in the
music. make everything that happens
completely unexpected. There may be a period
of silence — Cage considers silence a great tool
— and then all of a sudden there will be a loud
flurry of notes that shock you. One has to be
prepared for these shocks at all times. When
listening. then. you must necessarily become
very tense. and this tenseness builds up
excitement. and irritation.
Even with these seemingly erratic and
unrelated flurries of sound. the music seems to
hold together. because there is a rhythmic
structure on which the pieces are based. even
though you can‘t follow it.
The music of John Cage. then. is very
interesting and exciting. but by no means
beautiful. Listen to him. and maybe you‘ll find
that he's expressing all the feelings that you've
0 t .
One more comment about Linke‘s article. He
mentions that The Who are working on an
opera. There is already a phonographic pop
opera on sale in the stores. it was composed by
Tupper Saussy. He had always wanted to
compose an opera. but when he saw that much
of the beauty of opera lies in its technical
complexity. he decided to bag the idea. and
create something without these complications.
This he did. and the result is "The Moth
Confesses." by the Neon Philharmonic.
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The Neon Philharmonic is a chamber sized
orchestra consisting of members of the
Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Saussy plays
the piano and organ. and Don Gant sings the
The theme is desperation. Saussy handles it
very well. by having Gant songs expressing his
wishes to go home. escapism and despair. The
music itself sounds more like the soundtrack of
a Broadway musical than of an opera, but it is
well done. and accomplishes its purpose.
Single cuts from this album are played on the
radio and they hold up well without the rest of
the work but much of the beauty of it is lost.
Find this album. and listen to the whole thing.
You won‘t be disappointed.
Q i 0
Only one good album has come out recently.
but it has to be one of the all time greats. lt's
Tim Buckley‘s “Happy Sad." on Elektra.
Buckley is classified as a folk singer. but this
album contains some of the smoothest. most
beautiful progressive rock around. and it's in a
jazz vein. So here is an album that combines
rock. folk. and jazz. something which only the
Pentangle has been successful in doing in the
Buckley. of course. sings and plays the guitar.
but his back-up men. and their instruments. are
what really make this album what it is. Lee
Underwood. is a very good guitarist. John
Miller plays the acoustic bass. and has appeared
on a number of other albums by Buckley. David
Friedman plays the vibes. I hadn't heard of him
before running into this album. but I‘m
convinced that he is a great jazzman. His solos
add much to the album's appeal.
I don’t quite know where to begin describing
the music. The two best cuts are the two
longest: “Gypsy Woman." and “Love from
Room 109 at the Islander.“ which are 12 and 10
minutes long respectively.
On both of them. Buckley has a chance to
really let loose with his voice and on the guitar.
He hasn‘t come across before the way he does
here. and I think that he has finally found the
medium in which he is most comfortable.
"Gypsy Woman" has a gypsy type beat that is
very exciting. and Buckley gets so far into what
he is doing that the feeling jumps right off of the
turntable. This is one song that you'll want to
get up and move to.
“Love from Room 109 at the Islander" is
much softer. and more jazzy. Here Buckley
sings as he usually does. with a very lyrical
style. But the instrumentation seems to add a
whole new dimension and feeling of depth to the
music. The vibes are what really make this
This IS an album that IS a must for anyone who
likes music of any type
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