THE LIBERATION OF SOUND: An Introduction to Electronic Music by Herbert Russcol

THE LIBERATION OF SOUND: An Introduction to Electronic Music

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A recent bibliography lists 1,562 books and articles on electronic music, 150 electronic music studios around the world and more than 4,000 compositions in the medium. Clearly the form is in tune and deserves a popular history and analysis. Russcol is an able popularizer -- admirable, given this difficult and jargon ridden music -- but his scholarship suffers from an excessive devotion to the music and its masters. Whereas he too briefly summarizes the last tonalists and their relationship to the breakdown of the diatonic scale, he exhaustively chronicles every event in the history of electronic music from the invention of the phonograph to the computer music of today. His initial assumption, widely accepted, that tonality is a dead musical language leads him to embrace its moot corollary, that technological progress is this century's most important product. The result is a deliberate confusion of science and art where technical know-how is trumpeted over those impotent tonalists bound to ""traditional law in blind belief."" In Russcol's glowing account of electronic music and its creators, all aesthetic values of the seven tone scale are jettisoned with the instruments that play it. T. S. Eliot believed that criticism should rediscover tradition. Russcol has reversed the principle -- he's tried to create a tradition where none exists. As a devotee and evangelist he is articulate and convincing but as a serious musical historian he doesn't even try. With a critical discography and a thorough non-critical listing, several appendices examining computer music technically and a bibliography.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1972
Publisher: Prentice-Hall