Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century by Kate Molleson - review by Igor Toronyi-Lalic,

Igor Toronyi-Lalic,

While My Bamboo Buzzer Gently Weeps

Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century

By

Faber & Faber 368pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

Three cheers for marginalisation! True, being cold-shouldered prevented the various female, minority ethnic and non-Western composers that feature in Kate Molleson’s new history of 20th-century music from fully accessing the fruits of the Western musical-industrial complex. But on the plus side, prohibiting them from accessing the fruits of the Western musical-industrial complex made most of Molleson’s ten outcasts more vital and creative.

Look at the beginnings of electronic music. Had there not been such a closed, male atmosphere within musical academia, would as many women – Delia Derbyshire, Else Marie Pade, Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros and so on – have fled to the relative freedom of the electronic studio and pioneered so much musique concrète? As Molleson acknowledges, there’s a liberation in being on the margins. You exist on a blank page, where you can misbehave, doodle, dream and fail.

Sound within Sound is a book about diversity – a diversity of aesthetics and ideas and above all possibilities. ‘You will find no single trajectory or grand chronology between these pages,’ she writes. The book is pointillist, highlighting the works of wild brilliance that have been overlooked through decades

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