"The Telecasters"

Essay by bttUniversity, Ph.D.A-, May 2003

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Musical Analysis of "The Telecasters"

"The Telecasters" is a part of the Shakespearean Suite that dates back from 1957, also known as Such Sweet Thunder. The Suite, a 12-part piece, generally is a set of collages that each portrays, musically, one of the well-known Shakespeare characters-like Othello (who appears in the title number), Cleopatra (in "Half The Fun"), Romeo and Juliet (in "Star-crossed Lovers"). The movement that I picked up for analysis, "The Telecasters" is not different from the other movements in this aspect:

"The Telecasters, represents the Three Witches (three trombones) and Iago (Harry Carney). While the programmatic premise may be tongue-in-cheek, its opposition of two dark colors demonstrates the principles of Ellingtonian counterpoint."

Due to the scales of the paper, I am not going to discuss issues that concern the general style of Strayhorn and/or Ellington in an attempt to generalize aspects of compositional writing, since this type of study might probably need, as a back-up, more and thorough (in both quantitative and qualitative senses of these words) attempts of analysis and documentation of the appearance of those stylistic aspects in the composer(s)'other repertoire.

In spite of that, however, whenever there are striking "tendencies" that I feel should be mentioned, (and there are quite a few of those) I will try to make relevant connections, both to my previous knowledge of Ellington/ Strayhorn pieces, and not so surprisingly, to eastern modes that seem to be of greater influence in the music of

Strayhorn and Ellington in the later years of their careers. These connections are mostly intuitive, and nevertheless, I am presenting them here, with the hope that, the "audial" grasp of the music, as well as the logic I present regarding the organization of the large structure in "The Telecasters" will become better and...