listening, day 1 – part 2

In which the author skips and jumps.

I spent about an hour listening to various musical samples on amazon.com. It started like this: while looking up Sparklehorse information for the earlier post, an M. Ward album was listed. The first track was a guitar version of the Beach Boys’ “You Still Believe In Me,” which made me think of John Fahey.

Looking at the various John Fahey albums I found the ones he recorded with a dixieland band, which reminded me, faintly, of William Grant Still’s ‘Afro-American Symphony.’  Sampling Still reminded me of Charles Ives, not because they sound anything alike – they don’t – but because both were, to my uneducated ear, very specifically American.

Ives led me to a recording of Henry Cowell playing his own piano music, which somehow connected to Roy Harris, a composer I know nothing about but who apparently had the good sense to write music people could listen to during a period when classical music didn’t care much about such things.

Harris led me to Ned Rorem, another composer who insisted on melody during the long night of serialism, (at least that’s how I hear that music) and his solo cello work, “After Reading Shakespeare.”

And that’s how a Saturday afternoon slips away.

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