Recently, a young woman who, although not a musician, has attended concerts regularly, said to me almost despairingly: "What can I do to grow to like modern music? I don't understand it. I have tried to listen to it, but it means nothing to me; in fact, it takes away much of my pleasure in going to concerts." She is one of many who love music, who know how to listen but do not know how to adjust themselves to the new conditions. They do not know how to exchange old ears for new.
Therefore, I offer this book, not as a scientific treatise on ultramodern methods of composition, but as an attempt to guide the rapidly growing army of listeners in concert halls and over the air, through some of the paths along which the music of the twentieth century is traveling. Nor is it intended to be biographical or critical, but principally explanatory.
To many, the present day music seems to break completely with the past, to have no logical connection with former accepted methods. While it must be acknowledged that we are in a stage of transitional upheaval, the change when reviewed step by step is not mere chaos, but presents a front of progressive and reasonable evolution.
The tracing of this sequence supplies material for the chapters which follow. They deal with innovations of the past; with the impressionistic methods of Debussy, Ravel, Griffes and others; with the appearance of new scales, melodic lines, and chordal combinations; with the extended boundaries of tonality and key relationships; with the new rhythmic freedom, the breaking down of accepted conventions, and the gradual framing of a new esthetic