MUSIC IN THE FAMILY OF THE MUSES
by L. Tarasov.
- Leningrad, 1985. 159 pp.
by A. Vladimirov.
- Moscow, 1991. 191 pp.
ENTERTAINING MUSIC THEORY
by G.Vinogradov and E.Krasovskaya.
- Moscow, 1991. 191 pp.
Reviewed by Irina L. Vanechkina,
TeatralnayaStr., 3-3, Kazan, 420111, Russia.
In the Soviet Union, the publication of many interesting ideas on the boundaries of art and science was quite complicated. That is why a talented author's ideas could usually only be published in the form of entertaining stories for children. For example, G. Anpilov's book, "Physics and Music" (1962), devoted to electronic concrete music and to interrelations between cybernetics and music, was published 30 vears ago in such a way. It could not appear in any form through an "adult" publishing house at that time, although today it is still cited by experts and has been translated into major European languages. The three books reviewed here are also formally addressed to children, though much of their content is of interest to adult readers, too.
In the eight chapters of "Music in the Family of the Muses", L.Tarasov discusses the exclusive role of music in the arts, relevant to all of the basic arts, both simple and complex. Beginning with an analysis of the traditional connections of music to poetry and literature in simple forms (vocal music) and in complex ones (opera), the author then researches the mutual relations between music and dance in ballet. Of particular interest are the chapters "Musical Painting" and "Picturesque Music," in which the author considers interrelations between music and painting that led to the appearance of a synthetic art form of the twentieth century -- light music. Further, in a separate chapter, "How the Rainbow Sings," the author relates the history of the appearance of the first light-musical instruments, including material about the first musical work using light as an integral element -- "Prometheus" by Scriabin -- and its performances and the development of Scriabin's ideas in the Soviet Union.
The last two chapters are dedicated to the role of music in cinema and television. Being a professional television director and thus acquainted with its most minute details from the inside, Tarasov shares his interesting thoughts about the potential of musical programs and about working with outstanding actors. All the principal propositions of this entertaining and clearly written book are corroborated by numerous illustrations.
A.Vladimirov's book "Golden Strings", is devoted to sound as a physical and aesthetic phenomenon. In the introduction the author addresses the reader: "Do you know what I want to tell you about? About that which one cannot take into one's own hands, that which one cannot touch as one can a pencil or a plate And which, nevertheless, is everywhere... that which crackles, rustles, tinkles, hums, gurgles, creaks, chirrs -- sounds." The book includes a number of interesting stories relating to sound -- about the singing watches of the Egyptian Pharaohs, about cricket-guards, about shark rattles, etc. The spectrum of information presented about sound, its features and use by humans is very wide, so children will learn about reverberation, ultra and infra sound, hydro-acoustics, sound therapy, music's influence on the growth of plants and so on. Special sections of the book are dedicated to the music of the spheres, to "colour hearing," and to functional (applied) music. The book is fully illustiated.
The authors of "Entertaining Music Theory" -- the title of which refers back to the books "Entertaining Physics", "Entertaining Psychology", etc., previously published in the USSR -- have produced an unusual book on music theoró. It does not duplicate existing music manuals. Its distinguishing feature involves the fact that the authors evaluate all of the world's sound through the prism of the general law of symmetry. This makes the authors' references to linguistics, bionics, mathematics, physics, chemistry and sociology applicable. Reflections upon the law of symmetry are traced throughout the book in all elements of music -- in rhythm and meter, in intervals, in the system of mode-tonalily itself (including their modulation and transposition) and also in the location of notes in different keys, in the correlation of white and black keys on the piano, etc. The specific status of D (re) and A (la) flat as centers of symmetrical structures is noted. (Starting from the law of symmetry, the authors even offer an original application of minor scales -- without the use of the fourth finger). It is noteworthy that the authors do not limit themselves to theory -- they touch on problems of performance (playing) and also of apprehension of music, demonstrating subtle observations while comparing styles of different composers.
Using data from different spheres of knowledge, the authors have created a book that, while not easy to apprehend (even by adult readers), is attractive and fascinating, one that considerably widens the mental outlook of readers -- both students and teachers.