Monday, February 13, 2017


I JUST FINISHED listening to Stephen Sondheim give a young Jaye Griffiths instruction on how to execute the song, "Send In The Clowns."

Great stuff.

Sondheim focuses on the role of each word in the lyric. Each word having the function of revealing the emotional state of the character, as well as serving to evoke emotion from the listener. One word in the line serves multi faceted functions. One word provides information about the interaction between the environment, the character and the listener.

I recognize Sonheim's purpose here, because it is similar to how I craft narratives. In a narrative, I may have a choice of stating, "It brings a tear to my eye." The fear is that this colloquial expression, may have lost its evocative power by being reduced to a sterile cliché.

The alternative expression would be, "I was nearly brought to tears..." In crafting the narrative sentence, of course, it is not intended to portray the narrator as crying. The act of crying would literally reach a resolve. Crying is resigning to a conclusion. It is the final episode of an emotional wellspring, boiling in an event that the narrator seeks to avoid. The continued boiling of emotions, the description of being on the edge of resolve, evokes a more powerful response from the reader, than it would be to conclude the episode with the act of crying.

Sondheim and I have the same eye in our understanding of the critical function of each word in a narrative or in lyrics to a musical.

Now do not jump all over me, accusing me of being presumptuous by equaling myself to Stephen Sondheim. The fact is that I am a demonstrated genius, who speaks on topics in which genius is based.

In other words, patronize me here, if you feel more comfortable.

In the video clip, Sondheim focuses on Jayes' interpretation of the word, "WELL...maybe next year." Sondheim explains that in song, the word 'Well" should be an "angry separation." Exclaiming in song,
"WELL..." and then coloring the expression, "maybe next year."

These are very subtle literary and lyrical skills to acquire. They require keen insight into language, linguistics and concepts in linguistics.

But, ultimately these are skills which distinguish great work from the very good work of others.
Ray Oliver
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Stephen Sondheim teaches a student from the Guildhall School of Music, London a fragment of 'Send in the Clowns'

Sunday, February 12, 2017


AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING powerful musical program being broadcast on the Arabic Music Program, on WDIY.ORG fm from Allentown, Pa and into Northern New Jersey through translators.
Powerful and moving music.

If you have studied at the college level, Introduction to Classical Music and more advanced music, you recognize the movements, the melody and the synthesis of sound to create full sound from few instruments. There is the pre-Renaissance concerto, created centuries before in Arabic and Lebanese music, where the vocalist sings to the instruments, violin or other instrument and they answer each other.

Leonard Bernstein stated that "music follows language."  He emphasized that music will follow the pronunciation, tone and inflections of its language.  Arabic developed more vowels than Hebrew acquired, after both Arabic and Hebrew were borrowed from the Phoenician Alphabetic language.

Selections in the program included music from Egypt and other regional Arabic music.

Full and emotionally moving groups of pleasant notes is the essence of music.

The vowel derived melody in the spoken words of Arabic, its ancient history from the arrival of the Phoenician Lebanese in their Canaan around 3000 BC is all brought together in the mesmerizing linguistic music of Palestine-Syria-Lebanon, now broadcasting from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Program selections included music from Egypt and other regional Arabic.

A beautiful and important music program today on WDIY.ORG
Ray Oliver
can be reached at: 973.856.8000 or cell phone: 862.276.1505

The author prides himself in having stood on stage with Joe Walsh and The James Gang, having stood next to the great jazz composer and conductor, Stan Kenton, during recording of an album and having been an early scout for the later emerging band, "Kansas." Oliver was introduced to Stan Kenton through his famed music professor, Rogers.
Oliver earlier served as an elected Governor to the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, New York Emmy Awards and served as Chair of the ATAS Emmy Awards Membership Committee.