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So, you might ask, why leaving home in the first place?

Well, we‘re dealing with the
20th century and music, like all the arts, can not but reflect its own time. It’s been a
century of mass immigration and exile. And we’ll see what a profound effect that set
on music. But leaving home is also the dominant metaphor for a time in which all the
certainties, be they social, political or artistic that might grated.
Music itself left home in countless ways. It left behind structures and forms which
were becoming bossified and the predictable pictures and harmonies which were
that bad fellows. The comforting hierarchies of tonality, the safe foundation of rhythm
– all these things were no longer dependable.
Rhythm had long seemed something organic and regular, like footsteps or the
heartbeat not to be meddled with. But in the music which became the century’s
heartbeat, everything was to be questioned, all the certainties were up for grabs.
Rhythm is a cactual word, pulse, vibration, breathing even ripples on the water
surface. Now we’re looking at the time, when everything in the arts was going to
change and not only the arts but everything that effected the arts around it. This was
a time in which man’s internal rhythms were more effected by the outside world than
ever before. The actual speed with which life grooved changed at an unconscionable
rate at the beginning of the century. If rhythm had been measured before by the
heartbeat, by the pulse, with all its strange, cranky individual humanity – the 20th
century was a time in which rhythm would be measured in much more exact way.
It’s probably no accident, that Stravinsky’s Rite of spring, which is really the seminal
work of the 20th century in so many ways, happened in 1913 just before the greatest
conflagration that the world had ever known.

In some ways, rhythmic regularity was probably the thing most taken for granted by
listeners before this century. Our ears have become used to hear in patterns
repeated over and over again providing the underpinning for all the melodies and
harmonies of music we know well. It’s a little like the metal framework of a large
building. Once the plaster and painter on, we forget it’s there at all, but take that
framework away, the whole building falls down.
Now what Stravinsky did in the Rite of Spring was not to take away the underpinning,
but to remove any sense of predictable repetition.
For the audience of the premiere, it must have felt like the building was indeed falling
down.
Rhtyhm in western music before this century was usually written in either tuple or
triple meter. That is based on groups of two – my own composition – or in groups of
three. The repeated groups of two or three kept music ticking along. But one thing
the Rite of Spring never does, is tick along. It jumps, it leaps it hiccups and it stamps.
The twos and threes had thrown together without pattern, without balance – and

.suddenly we’re in a violent isometric universe.