Music: Rhythmic Engineering

When Joseph Schillinger, an energetic little Russian, bustled into the U.S. to teach his "scientific method" of music composition, he hit it just right. The harassed jazz composers and arrangers on the frenzied production lines of Tin Pan Alley, Hollywood and the radio studios were looking for somebody just like him. George Gershwin became a steady customer; so did his buddy, Oscar Levant. Soon many able musicians (Jesse Crawford, Benny Goodman, Vernon Duke) were juggling rhythms and harmonies into endless combinations. Long-haired music schools eschewed Schillinger and all his works: their students had plenty of time to court the muse.

Last week,...

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