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The Ellington Century

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The Ellington Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780520245877
ISBN10: 0520245873
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Ellington Century is a wonderful journey through the world of music and art. If you are already an aficionado of Ellington's music, you will enjoy the author's informative and detailed analysis of the composer's work and musical influences. If you are less familiar, this book puts Ellington's music in perspective with the great ‘classical composers of the twentieth century. David Schiff's remarkable insight into the historical and musical parallels between these composers is a delight to read and his references are vast, from Schoenbergs Pierrot Lunaire and Stravinskys Agon to televisions Sesame Street. Schiff writes with a sense of humor and an enthusiasm for Ellington's music that comes out on every page.”—George Manahan, Music Director, American Composers Orchestra

“David Schiff points us forward, observing that ‘Ellingtons music asks us to see with our ears and hear with our eyes. Writing as a composer and scholar, he has a gift for making complex ideas strikingly clear. His insights move across a huge terrain of twentieth-century culture, as he builds bridges in his musical and cultural analysis where many have not seen a connection. Yet each musical work, each artist, is given his or her equal due. In this sense, he has met the spiritual and cultural challenge of Ellingtons life work.”—Marty Ehrlich, Composer/Instrumentalist, Associate Professor of Improvisation and Contemporary Music, Hampshire College

Review:

"Esteemed composer and musician Schiff (George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue) flexes his authorial muscles once again with a self-confessed 'bundle of love letters' to the late, great jazz pianist and big band leader Duke Ellington. In true jazz fashion, Schiff exults, 'I allowed myself to be disorderly and intuitive, as if I were improvising.' But Schiff is nevertheless rather methodical in walking the reader through Ellington's groundbreaking sound — counting bars, tapping tempos, expounding on transitions, and always reveling in the music. A gifted painter in his youth and an artist in every sense, 'Ellington called many of his compositions ‘tone parallels' or ‘portraits'; his music linked sounds and images.' Schiff compliments this notion with quotations from Copland, Schoenberg, Rilke, Rimbaud, and Zola to contextualize and highlight the 'complex web of sensory associations' and ultimately conceive a 'jazz panorama' made up of the technical elements of Ellington's unique style. Dissecting the form of perhaps his most famous 'mood' composition, 'Mood Indigo,' Schiff addresses the 'syntax' and 'imagery' of the piece; evoking 'love, tears, the railway.' Always musically rather than autobiographically focused (even links to Kandinsky are made on artistic terms, not social), Schiff plainly argues the accessibility of Ellington's 'Symbolist aesthetic.' Drawing parallels with the sophisticated, calculated compositions of Debussy, while still acknowledging the juxtaposition of improvisation and 'Arcane modernism,' Schiff's ode to Ellington is a joy. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Breaking down walls between genres that are usually discussed separately—classical, jazz, and popular—this highly engaging book offers a compelling new integrated view of twentieth-century music. Placing Duke Ellington (1899–1974) at the center of the story, David Schiff explores music written during the composers lifetime in terms of broad ideas such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. He shows how composers and performers across genres shared the common pursuit of representing the rapidly changing conditions of modern life. The Ellington Century demonstrates how Duke Ellingtons music is as vital to musical modernism as anything by Stravinsky, more influential than anything by Schoenberg, and has had a lasting impact on jazz and pop that reaches from Gershwin to contemporary R&B.

About the Author

David Alan Schiff is R.P. Wollenberg Professor of Music at Reed College. He is a composer, journalist whose articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times and the Atlantic, and the author of George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and The Music of Elliot Carter.

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Part I: Overture: Such Sweet Thunder

1. “Blue Light”: Color

2. “Cotton Tail”: Rhythm

3. “Prelude to a Kiss”: Melody

4. “Satin Doll”: Harmony

Part II: Entracte: “Sepia Panorama”

5. “Warm Valley”: Love

6. Black, Brown and Beige: History

7. “Heaven”: God

Notes

Bibliography

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

books, March 8, 2012 (view all comments by books)
Is there something about the century other than its music in the title choice? Is "Ellington Century" a metaphor for social history of 20th century, at same time it is a study of Ellington's music? Much went right in 20th century, such as his music, but where "voice" was not clear in music, nor clear in social policy, so much went wrong--or was painfully tolerated. Does Schiff chose this title because, except for results of rare clarity, 20th century was a series of accidents?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520245877
Author:
Schiff, David
Publisher:
University of California Press
Subject:
Music -- History and criticism.
Subject:
General Music
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20120231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1 in 1.04 lb

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Jazz
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Jazz » Biographies
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The Ellington Century Used Hardcover
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$36.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages University of California Press - English 9780520245877 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Esteemed composer and musician Schiff (George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue) flexes his authorial muscles once again with a self-confessed 'bundle of love letters' to the late, great jazz pianist and big band leader Duke Ellington. In true jazz fashion, Schiff exults, 'I allowed myself to be disorderly and intuitive, as if I were improvising.' But Schiff is nevertheless rather methodical in walking the reader through Ellington's groundbreaking sound — counting bars, tapping tempos, expounding on transitions, and always reveling in the music. A gifted painter in his youth and an artist in every sense, 'Ellington called many of his compositions ‘tone parallels' or ‘portraits'; his music linked sounds and images.' Schiff compliments this notion with quotations from Copland, Schoenberg, Rilke, Rimbaud, and Zola to contextualize and highlight the 'complex web of sensory associations' and ultimately conceive a 'jazz panorama' made up of the technical elements of Ellington's unique style. Dissecting the form of perhaps his most famous 'mood' composition, 'Mood Indigo,' Schiff addresses the 'syntax' and 'imagery' of the piece; evoking 'love, tears, the railway.' Always musically rather than autobiographically focused (even links to Kandinsky are made on artistic terms, not social), Schiff plainly argues the accessibility of Ellington's 'Symbolist aesthetic.' Drawing parallels with the sophisticated, calculated compositions of Debussy, while still acknowledging the juxtaposition of improvisation and 'Arcane modernism,' Schiff's ode to Ellington is a joy. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
Breaking down walls between genres that are usually discussed separately—classical, jazz, and popular—this highly engaging book offers a compelling new integrated view of twentieth-century music. Placing Duke Ellington (1899–1974) at the center of the story, David Schiff explores music written during the composers lifetime in terms of broad ideas such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. He shows how composers and performers across genres shared the common pursuit of representing the rapidly changing conditions of modern life. The Ellington Century demonstrates how Duke Ellingtons music is as vital to musical modernism as anything by Stravinsky, more influential than anything by Schoenberg, and has had a lasting impact on jazz and pop that reaches from Gershwin to contemporary R&B.
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