"Beauty Beast" is a work in progress.
Originally premiered live by the Electric Diamond Ensemble in 1977, "Beauty Beast" was scored for Soprano (Sally Jo Anderson as Beauty), Lyricon Wind Synthesizer (as the Beast) 2 Crumar keyboards (a modified organ that was a predecessor to today's modern polyphonic synths) and percussion, The work was presented at Carnegie Recital Hall, Symphony Space and several new music venues in New York.
This video uses a recording done on a Teac 8-track analog tape recorder. All the parts are played with the Lyricon wind controller, Oberheim and Arp 2600 monophonic synths, Arp sequencer and the Crumar Orchestrator. Though, Sally Jo Anderson (the original Beauty) can be heard in the coda.
The video (as it now stands) was created between November 2012 thru April 2013 - using Adobe Premiere and After Affects.
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
Music Tolkien might have written if he'd used a
piano instead of a pen
by Bunny McBride
| To tell you the truth, I was just sitting there. Suddenly a brigade
of knights on horse back came charging toward me. There was no escape.
I sat stunned in my seat. A few yards before converging on me, these
men in armor were instantly transformed into a troupe of fairies -
fairies that spun and danced themselves into streams of light. By
the time they surrounded me I was quite pleased.
This sort of thing happens when Stuart Diamond and his Electric Diamond
Ensemble throw a concert - as they did recently In Manhattan's Symphony
Space and in Little Carnegie Hall.
The composition that sent visions of knights and fairies prancing
abut the concert hall was composer Diamond's "Dance of Merlin."
It followed "Lyric Images," which moments before had filled
the hall with imaginary skeins of yarn tumbling, Unraveling, looping
around the audience, passing between our chairs, tying us up in knots,
tossing us loose.
Imaginative, visual, linear music is what I'd call it - the kind of
stuff Tolkien might have come up with if he'd used a piano instead
Of a pen.
Diamond's music happens with keyboards, percussion (Michael Lauren),
and a Lyricon. The Lyricon is a still-rare instrument, usually associated
with jazz. Physically it looks like a flute fitted with a clarinet
mouth piece and wired into synthesizers. Phonically it can sound like
just about anything you want It to: harpsichord, flute, bassoon -
Yes, beast. And beast it was in Diamond's "Beauty and the Beast"
which, in its world premiere, crowned the concert in Symphony Space.
From Beast's first bellow the piece is established as the most remarkable
of the three compositions. It opens with Beast flailing in darkness.
His ferocity flies at you from every direction - so madly that you
expect Beast to crash into himself and smash piece and audience to
smithereens. Somehow, he doesn't. Enter Beauty (soprano Sally Jo Anderson)
with her wordless vocabulary that is alternately haunting and soothing,
tender and strong. When the unlikely duo moves from solos into duet,
Beast's ferocious troubling becomes tremulously gentle. The result
is some times heart-wrenching.
Diamond uses the electronic idiom in a way that makes you feel he's
taking you home by a new route. And whether you're the type who walks
home in wingtips, Adidas, or sandals, it's hard not to believe Diamond
can get you there. He's a mediator of sorts, a classical composer
who's ushering traditional Western music into the electronic age.
And he's been at it for decades.
Back in 1970, the atonal trend established among contemporary classical
composers In the '50s continued to cool music scores. But Stuart Diamond,
maverick or oblivious, was busily penning romantic, melodic compositions
- and plugging them into his synthesizers. The result was a music
that was indeed far out ("a wonderful trip into the asteroids,"
according to Variety), but in no way distant r detached.
Diamond likes being unusual, but not inaccessible. "I don't believe
a composer can live in an Ivory tower," the wild-haired composer
told me a few days after the concert. "Music must function as
entertainment before it can be great art. There's a dynamic relationship
between composer and audience, and if the audience isn't involved
you don't have a chance to do anything with your music."
It seems Diamond is an elusive nightingale out on a limb, he can't
be caged with the classicists, not with the disjointed mechanistic
bleeps and bloops still associated with serious electronic music.
The Diamond difference may have some thing to do with the intent behind
his composing. We talked about It in his Manhattan music studio -
a completely non-classical room spilling with masses of wires, buttons,
"My concern," says Diamond, pushing back his wire-rims with
his thumb and middle finger, "is to bring the audience to a philo
ophical position as a result of listening. I'm more concerned with
that than with grinding a stylistic ax. Once you've hooked an audience's
imagination you can take them on a journey in such a way that creates
certain images. You can bring them to various emotional effects, including
a feeling of transcendence. To be able to accomplish this is the art,
and that's what music is about for me."
While studying music at Haverford and Sarah Lawrence Colleges, Diamond
also studied philosophy. The more he talks the more it shows. "There
are several levels of what I'm trying to accomplish. The highest level
is an epiphanic notion. I'm not pretentious enough to say that I'm
touching people with God or that God has to speak through me, but
I think of great art very much as a healing thing. I think that some
change in perspective is valid and is what audiences seek. Even if
you're performing a tragedy, like "Romeo and Juliet," you
can help the audience walk away feeling enriched, aware of life.
"I try to be very positive in my statements. I used to write
negative pieces, then somewhere along the line I began to write positively
- just an expression of what I wish to express in general in my life."
Diamond says he's always been a romantic and melodic person. he started
playing wind instruments at age 9, and from that point on was very
conscious of line. At age 18 he began composing: "The first thing
I wrote was a title page: 'Stuart Diamond, Symphony No. 1. I never
got beyond the first movement of that one. It was dreadful, of course.
But it did have a strong melodic line."
After six years at Haverford and Sarah Lawrence, Diamond plunged into
New York's Lower East Side and took it by - well not exactly by storm.
In fact, his first two years were touch and go. "I played bassoon
professionally, and wrote music textbooks and magazine articles to
support my composing. What a way to spend my youth!" he chuckles,
slapping his forehead, crooking the wire-rims. "But things got
better. There I was, struggling to squeeze in a couple of hours of
composing a day when, out of the blue, I was discovered by the Criterion
Foundation. Criterion had been looking for composers different from
the academic tradition. A friend of mine played a tape of my music
for some foundation people and as a result they offered me total financial
support or several years. The grant came to me out of the sky. I hadn't
even applied for it. A little Cinderella experience."
Anybody who can take music and work fairy-godmother-type magic with
it like Stuart Diamond can deserves a little Cinderella experience.