Schoenberg warned a century ago, during that twilight zone between Wagner and Stravinsky, that the tempered scale was used up—its melodies worn out, its thematic variations a close-order drill going nowhere. Of course, jazz proved him dead wrong by revitalizing all the verities with blue harmonies, rhythmic force, and melodies of expressive and exuberant originality. Still, he was right about European classicism, a not insignificant field at the time, and his solution, serialism, forced his adherents to disavow habits and conventions. This produced a whole new musical world, though not many hits. Meanwhile, jazz thumbed its nose at the worrywarts and had a high old time for 50-plus years, until it, too, began to ruminate about habit and convention, opening the gates to rock 'n' roll, which filled the hit-making gap. Now, at the dawn of a hip-hopping new century, one can't help but notice that the tempered scale once again seems used up—its melodies worn out, its thematic variations a close-order... More >>>