Ruth White (composer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ruth White (born 1925) is an American composer known for her electronic music compositions. While most of her career was dedicated to educational recordings,[1] she is best known for being an electronic music pioneer, owing to her early explorations of sound using the Moog synthesizer. The back cover of her 1971 release "Short Circuits" stated that “Ruth White is considered among today’s most gifted arbiters of what is termed ‘the new music’".

Her early recordings “Seven Trumps From The Tarot Card And Pinions” (1968), “Flowers of Evil” (1969), and “Short Circuits” (1970) all featured surprising uses of the Moog synthesizer as well as other electronic musical equipment.[2]

Biography[edit]

Ruth White studied music and composition and received three degrees from Carnegie Tech in Pennsylvania. While she focused on classical training in Piano, she also studied violin, cello, harp, clarinet, and horn. Recognized as gifted early on, White eventually studied under American avant-garde composer George Antheil. White credits Antheil with making her fully aware of the principles of classical sonata form, which provided “the key to writing larger works that were logical and structurally sound”.[3]

White’s first studio was self-built in 1964, and was on display at The Fiske Museum for Musical Instruments in Pomona, California for a number of years. In 2008 these items were moved to The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, an institution which opened in April 2010.[4] With the creation of her own studio White developed her own brand of electronic music which explored new timbral and harmonic resources without renouncing the order and logic instilled by her classical training. Early on Ruth became intrigued by electronic music possibilities. According to “The Norton/Grove dictionary of women composers”

“White’s involvement in electronic music was precipitated by a belief that all experiments in traditional media from impressionism to atonality, polytonality and the like, were closed paths – that ‘this’ medium, with its fundamental key relationships, had been exhausted, had reached its zenith by the end of the nineteenth century, and, since then, its basic principles were being systematically destroyed. She also found much early electronic music ‘chaotic and senseless’, eventually concluding that those ‘unshaped and arbitrary sounds being made were noise and just that.”[3]

Early on in White’s career, her love of educational recordings was evident. Beginning in 1955 where she worked with Marilyn Horne and Richard Robinson on the recording “Lullabies From ‘Round The World”. In 1957 White was commissioned by the Los Angeles Board of Education to record music for the Physical Education department for all of Los Angeles County Schools. These recordings (5 box sets total) were called “Folk Dances from ‘Round the World”.[5] In 1967 White was commissioned by choreographer Eugene Loring (for the University of California) to create the music for a performance titled “Seven Trumps From The Tarot Card And Pinions". The event was a success, and revealed Ruth’s talent. The Los Angeles Times reviewed “Seven Trumps” as ” …a really exciting, organically musical, electronic score by Ruth White. Not only the soloists but all the participants seemed to draw heat from this score…”. Dance Magazine said “choreographed on contrasting planes, pinions comments on the wings of imagination and love, the shackles of philistinism, and always, Ruth White’s specially written and especially eloquent score heightens the drama of the dance while plumbing its depths …. “. Ruth’s musical recordings, (titled Seven Trumps From The Tarot Card And Pinions) from the show were also released on the increasingly experimental Limelight Records (1968).[6]

In 1969 Ruth White's involvement in the arts community grew when she was elected to the local Los Angeles The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) chapter. She remained active in the NARAS for years. In 1972 Ruth White was elected to the National NARAS board where she served as Vice President.[7]

In 1969 she recorded “Flowers of Evil”, a record based on French poet Charles Baudelaire’s volume of poetry “Les Fleurs du Mal”, reciting Baudelaire’s words over electronic music. The poems are accented eerily by White’s use of “electroaccoustic” music – more specifically the moog synthesizer. Once again White’s music was published on LimelightRecords.[8]

These recording were followed by “Short Circuits” (on Angel Records), and its French reissue “Klassik o’tilt” (on EMI), released respectively in 1970 and 1971. These releases marked a change in direction for White. While maintaining her aim to publicise the use of electronic music, she used these releases to show the possibilities of synthesizers in classical music.[2]

Perhaps because of these recordings, White, along with friend and fellow moog composer Paul Beaver, were invited to record with Tonto's Expanding Head Band. The idea for this recording was for each person involved to create a track, then send it to the next synthesist to add to the track. White was eventually however not involved. The album went on to gain legendary status, Zero Time. (1971, Embryo Records)[9]

In 1971 Ruth White took a different direction. She formed a film company through Cartridge Television properties (Cartridge TV or CTV). During this time she produced several stop animation films (then called “Analog Animation”) titled “Garden Of Delights For Kids No. 1″, and included her musical score for “Hush Little Baby”, “Hickory Dickory Dock”, “Space Trip” and “Adventures In Underland”. In 1971 her video “Steel” received an Atlanta Film Festival award.[10] Also in the early 1970s she founded (with Paul Beaver) The Electronic Music Association. The Electronic Music Association gave concerts “to introduce audiences to new electroacoustic works.” [11]

This love of music eventually led White back to education. Most of the rest of White's musical career was spent developing music teaching materials for children and getting technology into the classroom. In 1973 she was producing “multi media” projects aimed at getting children to read. White realized early on that TV had changed how children learned. The audio without video was dead. In 1973 she was quoted as saying, “In the future, audio without visual, except for dance records, will be worthless”.[12] It was in 1973 she invented the character Mr. Windbag, a character she continued to use through her educational recording career with her series “The Adventure Of Mr. Windbag”. Her accomplishments in education resulted in her earning a Parents' Choice Award (1983) and an American Library Association ‘notable recording’ citation. Her interests led her to begin a children’s books publishing company in Los Angeles. But her music was never far behind. Up through the late 1980s her personal studio was located upstairs from her publishing company.[13]

Discography[edit]

Year Title Format Special Notes
1947 Songs From Japanese Poets LP
1950 Palestinian Song Cycle LP
1955 A Certain Slant Of Light LP
1955 Rhythm Instruments With Folk Music From Many Lands Vinyl, 7″ x3 Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1955 Settings For Lullabies ‘Round The World LP Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Re-issued 1976, 1999, 2005)
1957 Folk Dances From ‘Round The World Vol. 1 Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1959 Folk Dances From ‘Round The World Vol. 2 Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1959 Folk Dances From ‘Round The World Vol. 3 Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1959 Folk Dances From ‘Round The World Vol. 4 Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1960 Folk Dances From ‘Round The World Vol. 5 Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1960 Good Neighbors; A Fiesta Of Latin American Folk Dances Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1960 The Rhythms Hour Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1960 Play Time-A Festival Of Rhythmic Dramatizations Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1962 The Fundamentals Of Music For Dancers Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1962 Motivations for Modern Dance Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1962 The Holiday Sampler: Activity Songs For Christmas Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1962 First Folk Dances LP x2 Rhythms Productions
1965 Motifs For Dance Composition Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1966 Music For Contemporary Dance (Vol 1) Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1967 Music For Contemporary Dance (Vol 2) Vinyl, 7″ x3 Rhythms Productions
1967 Adventures In Rhythms Vol 1 Vinyl, 7″ Rhythms Productions
1967 Adventures In Rhythms Vol 2 Vinyl, 7″ Rhythms Productions
1968 Seven Trumps From The Tarot Card And Pinions LP, Vinyl, 12″ Limelight
1969 Flowers of Evil LP, Vinyl, 12″ Limelight
1970 Short Circuits Vinyl, 12″ Angel Records
1971 Klassik o’tilt LP, Vinyl, 12″ EMI
1973 The Adventures of Mr Windbag in Metric Land Cass/Film Strip Educational Products
1973 The Peppermint Tiger: And Other Activity Songs LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1985, 1999)
1973 Down Lolipop Lane LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as cassette in 1985, 1999)
1973 Action Songs For Everyday Vol. 1 LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1973 Cotton Candy Castles: Activity Songs LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1985, 1999)
1973 Chocolate Choo Choo: And Other Activity Songs LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette in 1985, 1999)
1976 It’s A Happy Feeling; And Other Activity Songs LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1977 Fiddle-EE-fee LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1982)
1977 The Rhythm Makers LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1977 I’ve Got A Reason To Sing LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1987)
1978 Musical Math: Beginning Concepts Vol. 1 LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1978 Musical Math: Addition/Subtraction Vo1. 2 LP, Vinyl, 12” Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1978 Musical Math: Multiplication Vol. 3 (Reissued as a Cassette 1999) LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1979 Matematica Musical. Conceptos Basicos Volumen 1 LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1979 Matematica Musical. Volumen 2, Suma y Resta LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1979 Matematica Musical. Volumen 3, Multiplicacion LP, Vinyl, 12″ Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1979 Action Songs for Holidays And Special Days LP, Vinyl, 12″ / Cassette Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1980 Animals Are Wonderful LP, Vinyl, 12″ Rhythms Productions (Reissued as Cassette in 1984)
1980 Musical Reading LP, Vinyl, 12″ X 3 Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1995 Musical Reading: Alphabet, Vowels LP, Vinyl, 12″ / Cassette Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1980 Musical Reading: Consonants B through K LP, Vinyl, 12″ / Cassette Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1980 Musical Reading: Consonants L through Z LP, Vinyl, 12″ / Cassette Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions
1982 Singing Games LP, Vinyl, 12″ / Cassette Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1982 Listen and Read Box Set 5 Cass Rhythms Productions
1983 Sing Along with Mother Goose LP LP, Vinyl, 12″/Activity Book Tom Thumb Records/Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1985 Bubblegum Band Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1985 Big Rock Candy Mountain Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions (Reissued as a Cassette 1999)
1988 Mr. Windbag In Shape Land: Learn About Shapes (Reissued as a Cassette 1999) Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions
1988 The Adventures Of Mr. Windbag (The Line Country) Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions
1988 Mr. Windbag And The Magic Cup Learn About Quantity (More/Less) Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions
1988 Mr. Windbag And The Lollipop Race Cassette Tom Thumb/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Tom Thumb’s First Reader’s Kit: “Hear, See, Say & Do” Activities Box Set Rhythms Productions/Cheviot Corp-Audio
1999 Mr. Windbag in Shape Land: Learn About Shapes (Watch Me Grow Series) Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Mr. Windbag in Shrink Land: Learn About Size (Watch Me Grow Series) ‘ Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Mr. Windbag in the Line Country: Learn About Letters & Numbers Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Mr. Windbag and the Magic Cup: Learn About Quantity (More/Less) (Watch Me Grow Series) Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Mr. Windbag and the Birthday Party: Learn About Weight (Heavy/Light) (Watch Me Grow Series) Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions
1999 Mr. Windbag and the Lollipop Race (Watch Me Grow Series) Cassette Cheviot Corp-Audio/ Rhythms Productions

[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ruth White - Biography". RUTHFAN blog at WordPress.com. 
  2. ^ a b "Ruth White Discography". Discogs. 
  3. ^ a b Sadie, Julie Anne; Samuel, Rhian (1995). The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (digitized online by GoogleBooks). MacMillan. p. 494. 
  4. ^ "Musical Instrument Museum". 
  5. ^ "Carolyn Mitchill - Biography". Phantom Ranch. 
  6. ^ "Ruth White - Biography". Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Billboard Sep 15, 1973
  8. ^ "Ruth White". The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer page 14
  10. ^ Billboard Jul 17, 1971 page 21
  11. ^ ("Women composers and music technology in the United States: crossing the line" page 37)
  12. ^ ("Billboard" Jul 7, 1973 page 44)
  13. ^ (Women composers and music technology in the United States: ... - Page 37)

External links[edit]