Segments in this Video

Composing Music (12:46)


Several composers describe their process of composition and personal style. American music is diverse and open; modern music can cause conflict with audiences. Hear portions of "Unto the Hills," "A Gift," "8 Lines," "Seven Desires for Guitar," "Cusp of Magic," "The Golden Flute," and "Symphony No. 1."

Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives (02:27)

Stravinsky's work was acknowledged, supported, or challenged. The "Rite of Spring" was recognized after Walt Disney put it in a film. Ives felt Stravinsky was too repetitive.

Aaron Copeland and John Cage (07:13)

Copeland wrote the music for the gunfight scene in "Billy the Kid." Cage allowed personal freedom to create music. Experts discuss perceptions of modern music, the 12 tone process, and the academic approach to music.

Minimalist Music (06:40)

Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young created simple music based on patterns. Musical boundaries began to dissolve; experts share opinions on minimalist and romantic composition. Hear portions of "Baba O'Riley," "Einstein on the Beach," "Nixon in China," and "Bye Be Butterfly."

Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center (02:22)

Milton Babbitt and his friends began the center. Babbitt created several pieces with the RCA synthesizer. Hear a portion of "Composition for Synthesizer."

Elliott Carter and Steve Reich (06:02)

Carter's first interest in music was contemporary; "String Quartet" is one of his most difficult compositions. Reich used recordings of a Pentecostal preacher to create musical loops; he experimented with pattern and sound.

Playing Intervals (05:48)

Terry Riley reflects on minimalism and the process of repeating patterns. Tan Dun describes composers as feeling machines who deal with memories and passions. Music is a difficult art form.

Musical Direction (07:49)

Composers discuss their early interest in music, desire to compose, connecting with the audience, and string quartets. Hear portions of "Illumination Rounds," "Unto the Hills," "String Quartet #1," "The Cusp of Magic," and "Angels."

Musical Writings (04:14)

Evelyn Glennie discusses her mindset when performing. Many composers want to write for the symphonic world. Music is a journey that speaks for itself.

Credits: Beautifully Scary: Contemporary Music in America (02:06)

Credits: Beautifully Scary: Contemporary Music in America

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Beautifully Scary: Contemporary Music in America

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film explores the trends in contemporary music in America over the last half of the 20th century and beyond. Interviews with some of the most influential American composers reveal the circumstances that shaped modern classical music today, and the creative visions that have emerged from it. The film features some of the innovative work being done through short sequences from a variety of ensembles. Interviews with leading performers of this music also reveal the impact that it has had on the fabric of modern American culture.

Length: 61 minutes

Item#: BVL155957

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.