‘A Revolution In Sound’ looks at the influence of modern classical music, the avant-garde and free jazz on pop and pop culture, during the second half of the twentieth century.
In the mid-1960s, as pop music acquired a greater sophistication and maturity, artists began to make more ambitious musical and conceptual statements. In the search for new ideas, pop began to find inspiration along the spectrum of classical music â from Stockhausen to Sibelius â and from artists who inhabited the outer reaches of jazz, drawing even on the classical music of Northern India with its roots in the antique past.
The albums produced by The Beatles at their creative peak; ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’; almost everything by The Mothers of Invention; The Byrdsâ ‘Fifth Dimension’; The Pink Floydâs debut, ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’; The Grateful Deadâs ”Anthem of the Sun; the early works of Can, Jefferson Airplane and Soft Machine; all were enriched by the assimilation of techniques and procedures appropriated from the pioneers of art music.
Frank Zappa did more than anyone to open the door to the modernist world; his expansive music informed by Stravinsky, Webern, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and most notably Edgard VarĂšse, whose work Zappa encountered in his youth, and spent his life championing.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon increased their creative palettes by borrowing from the strange new musical universes of Stockhausen, Berio and Cage while George Harrisonâs life was changed by Ravi Shankar, to whose music he and the other Beatles were feverishly introduced by David Crosby and Roger McGuinn at a Benedict Canyon LSD party in 1965.
For the âFifth Beatleâ, producer George Martin, the passions were the French Impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel, from whom he claimed to have learned to âPaint in Soundâ; for Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead it would be the music of Charles Ives (âIt sounds like the inside of your head when youâre daydreamingâ). Brian Eno directly answered Erik Satieâs call for âmusic that would be a part of the surrounding noisesâ with his ambient Music for Airports, while Captain Beefheart, Robert Wyatt and Lou Reed would all surrender to the liberating spirit of Ornette Coleman.
In the realm of electronics and musique concrĂšte, the tireless experiments in tape-manipulation by Daphne Oram and Pierre Henry found expression in radio, television and on stage. In cinema, Stanley Kubrickâs masterful use of Bartok and Liszt vindicated his stated preference for the use of pre-existing music over original score; while in ‘Altered States’, Ken Russell blew our minds by taking the relationship between music and image to a new sensory level; aided by a wild electronic score that included Pierre Henryâs Veil of Orpheus.
The box set includes full 27 minute version of Henryâs Orpheus, the first major work of symphonic concrĂšte music is but one of the historic features to be found in this presentation. A Revolution In Sound also includes the premiere recording of Stockhausenâs monumental Gruppen for Three Orchestras, with Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna and Stockhausen himself conducting; Beechamâs beautiful 1955 account of Sibeliusâ ‘Incidental music from The Tempest’; an exhilarating recording of Stravinskyâs ballet ‘Agon’ by Hans Rosbaud with the SWGR, a hugely influential piece, a triumph for the composer; and from before the creation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the âRadiophonic poemâ, Private Dreams and Public Nightmares, a quite unprecedented collage of manipulated voices and sound effects assembled by Daphne Oram and Desmond Briscoe: a challenge for radio listeners in 1957. As the producer, Donald McWhinnie stated in his introduction, âYou may detest this programme, but I hope you wonât dismiss it. Certainly nothing like this has ever come out of your loudspeaker beforeâ