Chavez’s foundation

I have never thought of Carlos Chavez as a writer of books, but apparently you can always be proven wrong. In his book “Toward a new music; Music and Electricity“, Carlos Chavez talks about perspective and physics in life and music, as well as other music based chapters such as music production and electrical instruments, all which culminate into the ideas presented in his book.

In his opening chapter, Carlos Chavez mentions the past and how it is now “history”, and he makes a slight hint that the public wasn’t “living” in the present as much as they should have been at the time. By this he means, that they were just not ready to try new things as composers were, he also mentions that sometimes the public is just not ready for a composer to be “recognized as an artist of today”. I find it very funny that he says this considering I have always thought what makes someone in history “great”, what is the reason for us to be studying them in musical textbooks or history books, or what actually make it “History”. We always say that these people have done something great, or achieve something only a few have tried. But have they truly achieved something great, or have they only bettered what someone else have already done or achieved?

In his chapter toward a new music Chavez immediately says that nothing is wholly new. He does a comparison of Bach to Vivaldi and how Bach will not be around if Vivaldi had not set the groundwork for him to achieve his status as a composer. This comparison reminds me of what came first the chicken or the egg, because if Bach was known as the “father of music”, what is to be made of the composers who came before, such as the Vivaldi. Does he not stand for anything?? Would Bach have written the way he did without his predecessor?

After talking about the evolution of instruments and sound amplification, Chavez mentions that “a composer who knew only the mechanism of the violin would be unable to write for orchestra or Opera”. What I believe Chavez is trying to say here is that I just because you know how something works does not mean that you know what it does or you know of its capabilities. I believe Chavez is trying to say is that it takes much more than just knowing the groundwork of how a mechanism or music for that matter works. as in you have to know how the music will be translated through the instrument in and ensemble, or through a sound amplification device be fore you can consider to composer music. Would you be able to drive a car if you only had the wheel? Everything must rely on something for its to exist in nature, the corporate world, and most definitely in music. Everything needs a foundation to grow upon, everything must happen for a reason

Many of the elements that Chavez uses and his book are really eye-opening, I am pleased to have read this, to understand a little bit more into the mind of Carlos Chavez, this was also one of the more enjoyable reads thus far. Although his book seems fairly straight forward in talking about music and its evolution I like that he leave us with still a few questions, maybe to have touched upon at a different time. Sometime later in history…


-John Guevara


One thought on “Chavez’s foundation

  1. fnewberry says:

    Chavez really did have a very broad view of music in history didn’t he?I think maybe his broad view really helped him in making contacts and understanding that his work would build an understanding of his music in the future.


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