By Ken Emerson
Throughout the past due Nineteen Fifties and early Sixties, after the surprise of Elvis Presley and sooner than the Beatles spearheaded the British Invasion, fourteen proficient younger songwriters huddled in midtown Manhattan's mythical Brill construction and a warren of places of work a section farther uptown and composed the most beguiling and enduring entries within the nice American Songbook. Always Magic within the Air is the 1st thorough historical past of those well known songwriters-tunesmiths who melded black, white, and Latino sounds, built-in audiences ahead of the USA desegregated its faculties, and taken a brand new social realization to pop music.
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Extra info for Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era
68 a. Recomposition of opening phrase Adagio molto 68 ten. ten. 68 b. Measures 1–2 3 ten. ten. c. Recomposition of mm. 3–4 3 ten. d. Measures 3–4 ten. 22 • Essay Two ten. 5 ten. e. Recomposition of mm. 5–6 5 cresc. decresc. f. Measures 5–9 The foregoing sketch should indicate the extent to which not just hearing but also actual mishearing may contribute to musical meaning. The full significance of the passage can be grasped only by one whose ear is not only knowledgeable—recognizing all the allusions—but also willing—in this case, willing to be misled.
It consists of the fairly firm and static establishment of a given linear-harmonic level, with a characteristic sonority, followed by a rise to a climax, and finally a fall back to the original level and sonority. The climax is higher, louder, more dissonant than the beginning and end, and there is a clear sense of return. These characteristics persist regardless of the chosen key. Why could we not say the same of the Beethoven quartet movement? Because there the climax, on a consonant chord, can under one interpretation be heard as a tonic.
Or perhaps “experiential” is a better word. A tonic is not what can be analyzed as a tonic, but what is perceived as a tonic. Or felt as a tonic. Just what that means is one of the things I want to investigate. A more extreme example may make my approach clearer: the end of Also sprach Zarathustra. This piece can be heard naively as a huge piece in C, followed by a short piece in B, followed by a reminder of C. But if we want to put these fragments into some kind of unified relation, if we want to hear the work as a single composition, we try to relate C and B.