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O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96, 1-2

The tones of air, I know not how they flow; where'er they move, all things melodious grow.
Faust PT II, Goethe


Lost World Tango

Two Lonely People



Blues for Zarathustra

Wings of the Morning



17 Solo Piano Improvisations

Music in Three Parts

House of Counted Days

Voyage to Arcturus

Ron Thomas performances, recordings, teaching, composition and essays.

Music: The Free Art

A Manifesto for the ‘Analysis for Composers’ Master Class
From Jacques Barzun, Berlioz Vol 2, P.73,74

Feeling as he did about systems and pedantry and knowing history, Berlioz naturally refused to limit the scope of either music or modern music.

“As for my own confession of faith, is it not in my works? In what I have done and what I have not done? What music is today, you know as well as I do; what it will be, neither you nor I can tell.... Music is ... like the antique Andromeda, divinely naked and beautiful, whose burning glances break into many colored rays by shining through her tears. Chained to a rock on the edge of a boundless sea, she awaits the conquering Perseus who will break her chains and destroy the Chimera named Routine.... I believe that by now the monster is getting old: his motions are not so energetic as of yore, his heavy paws slip on the edge of Andromeda’s Rock. And when the devoted lover of the sublime captive has restored her to Greece, at the risk of seeing his passion repaid with cold indifference, it will be vain for neighboring satyrs to laugh at his ardor and cry: ‘Leave her in chains! How do you know that once freed she will be yours? In bondage she is easier to possess....’ The loving lover wants not to wrest but to receive. He will save Andromeda chastely, and would even give her wings to augment her liberty.”

Berlioz declined to bind himself by a program and assume the role of leader of a school. His faith was clear from his deeds and parables and strong without the buttressing of a cosmic philosophy. Berlioz’ decision to stand on his accomplishments rather than on a platform appears as sound judgement now that the theorizing of the Wagnerian Futurists and all their avant-garde descendants appears with all its suicidal inconsistencies.... How could he, arguing for freedom, be a party to boxing up his art within a creed?

Human Beings: their hopes, purposes and emotions are not told about by music; music transfixes those hopes, purposes, etc. elaborates them, gives them enduring form and self-renewing vigor. Music is the equivalent of ... not an imitation of ... the lived experience.

Music: Transfixing, elaborating, giving enduring form and self-renewing vigor to ... movements of the human spirit. Jacques Barzun, 1971 (Critical Questions)

The “Music of the Future” cult set Wagner atop a pyramid of musical dinosaurs whom it declared extinct like ... Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber and ... Berlioz! To Princess Carolyne (Liszt’s companion [and no friend to Wagner!])

Berlioz replies,

“You propound in regard to music a paradoxical theory of ‘ancestors’ and ‘descendants’ which, if you will allow me to say so, is at once palpably absurd and a libel against me. It is as if you accused me with philosophical calm of being a liar and a thief. This made me indignant. I admire with passion many works by the descendants and I heartily detest many illustrious ancestors given over to what is false and ugly.... Times, periods, and nationalities are all one to me, and nothing would be easier for me than to prove it ... let us drop these arbitrary systems designed to forward a special cause....”

You see, Berlioz was free, and as Barzun tells us, we may be sure that Berlioz grasped the relation between his thirty years of singlehanded innovation to this recent burst of self-deceived futurists.

Debussy: Inventor of the transformable musical content.... He is to Wagner what the StarTrek’s Halodeck is to Expressionist painting.

I learned about “renewable and transformable musical space” [re-inventable, multi-dimensional space] from Bill Karlins and Howard Rovics. Later I encountered it directly from Stefan Wolpe. The Debussy-revolution opened up the way for this development.
’s ‘method’ is, in fact, ‘serial’ i.e., one new idea following another in sequence.

This is a logical development of the “free musical discourse” described and discussed by Berlioz. Even Schoenberg’s and Wolpe’s methods were refinements and extensions of Debussy’s way. Sound (capital S!) in Debussy’s work comes forward as a structural consideration partly in response to the absence of the institutionalized cliches of tonal-form-building concepts. And this too comes from Berlioz.

The formalism Debussy opposed was the prevailing institutional academic view that “Tonal Common Practice” was inviolable. This Pedant’s Textbook Scheme of Tonality was a theoretical fiction. Debussy unmasked and attacked this logically indefensible position. “Music Theory” as a compartmentalized subject is an offspring of Newton’s “mechanical universal law” fallacy later overturned by Einstein. It blinded even Schoenberg forcing him to embrace “system” where it was not needed. What in the world was wrong with Pierrot Lunaire anyway, Arnold?

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