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Alec Wilder$
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Philip Lambert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037603

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037603.001.0001

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The Music of Alec Wilder

The Music of Alec Wilder

An Assessment

(p.111) 6 The Music of Alec Wilder
Alec Wilder

Philip Lambert

University of Illinois Press

This concluding chapter evaluates Alec Wilder's music. Listeners are often struck by the tunefulness of Wilder's creations, whether a popular song or a concerto or sonata. Indeed, many of his melodies, in music of all types, easily satisfy one of his own standards of measurement in his book, American Popular Song (1972): that a good tune should be capable of standing alone, without accompaniment or any other contextualizing factors. At the same time, Wilder was equally devoted to a melody's harmonic setting. As he explained in American Popular Song, some effective melodies are “conceived in terms of harmony” and may not work so well in isolation. To his popular songs he brought the harmonic language of late romanticism. To his music for the concert hall he brought the language of jazz harmony. The personality and distinction of his musical language in general are as much determined by his chord constructions and progressions as by the melodies they support.

Keywords:   Alec Wilder, melodies, harmonic setting, American Popular Song, late romanticism, jazz harmony, popular songs, concert music

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