July 17, 2007

Yeagley berates other composers to promote himself

(Part III of Yeagley’s fake opera claims)
from the Bad Eagle journal

David Yeagley “When I say I wrote the first classical music for American Indian flute, I mean that I have written and recorded music for the flute which is classical in content... The famous Louis Ballard... wrote a piece called "Why the Duck Has a Short Tale." It isn't identified or described as a flute concerto” (7-16-07).

"Why the Duck Has a Short Tale"

Despite Yeagley’s limited google searches, Ballard's "Why the Duck Has a Short Tale" is indeed a composed classical work for Indian flute, indicated in the printed music. Ballard’s writing for Indian flute was not pentatonic, nor some Indian style flute melody. As Louis always pointed out when asked: “The music I write is 100% Louis W. Ballard music.”

In the 1980s, I saw an advertisement from the Flinn Foundation annual report, that boasted of the first American Indian flute concerto having been composed in classical style. My curiosity was raised, so I called Louis to ask him if he knew of any previous such concertos. Lou said he knew of an earlier one from 1969, and he immediately faxed me a copy of his Phoenix Symphony program of “Why the Duck Has a Short Tale,” which clearly shows the work as an Indian flute concerto.

Sorry that web searches do not provide for such detail as one receives from composers directly, but there you have it nonetheless; the web lackey method of doing hasty research cannot provide that same level of attention to detail.

"Ritmo Indio"
David Yeagley[Ballard] wrote a piece called "Ritmo Indio," which did include an American Indian flute, but not as focus... the flute part is insignificant, and isn't listed in the instrumentation. It uses only the natural pentatonic scale inherent. The music for the flute is therefore not "classical" at all. The ensemble music is more on the Contemporary side, rather than classical in style. Again, writing for classical instruments does not mean the music is classical. Classical refers to content, nature, character, etc., not the instrumentation” (7-16-07).
Actually, as I have performed the Indian flute part in "Ritmo Indio," I must say that it is listed in the instrumentation; Yeagley is obviously looking at something other than the printed score which clearly lists the instruments including Indian wood flute, a “flageolet” style Indian wooden flute. Again, "Ritmo Indio" does not center around a pentatonic scale, and it is 100% Louis W. Ballard in character, not traditional American Indian; and, the Indian flute part is completely written out in printed notation the same as any other classical flute part.

Classical vs. Contemporary

What’s even more puzzling about Yeagley’s false claims above is the “contemporary” versus “classical” comment, because Yeagley himself is a contemporary composer, also not composing in “classical” style. In addition to his list of requirements for classical music, Yeagley’s omitting an important component — pitch. More than “content,” “nature,” and “character” (whatever Yeagley means by using those nonmusical terms), it is pitch that largely determines classical music, major and minor tonality and the chordal progressions accepted by those classical parameters.

In fact, almost all of 18th Century counterpoint CENTERS on pitch and harmonic development as a foundation. Therefore, by Yeagley’s own declaration of a self-created new harmonic theory, he is well outside the accepted norm for “classical” pitch development, and his music is nowhere near classical.

David Yeagley “Classical music, as a term, represents the highest order of musical activity. It is the top term. Therefore, it is highly abused and regularly usurped. People want to think they have the value, without the work” (7-16-07).
Classical is not the “top term;” classical music is not the highest order of music in some imaginary stratosphere. Classical music is merely a circumstantial type of music produced with a set of parameters particular to a specific era in history. It has no superior intrinsic position and is of no greater importance than is any other type of great music.

Yeagley is trying to “usurp” a higher and mightier glory for his classical (nonexistent) brotherhood than is warranted. It is not others who are usurping, it is Yeagley crying the victim again (“classical music is under attack from those trying to tear it down,” that sort of Yeagley malarkey). Yeagley loves to cry ‘victim’ whenever he feels his meager pontificating is shown to be a fool’s errand.

Circumscribing & Castigating
David YeagleyDeMars' music is not really classical either, but in the pop style of John Williams and the movie score venue--all luscious and sensual, but without musical gray matter. Entertaining, but without intellectual interest. It certainly represents no "classical" music for the Indian flute. If the New York Philharmonic were backing up Nakai, it wouldn't mean he was playing classical music. He can't” (7-16-07).
Actually, DeMars doesn’t compose pop style, but in a constructed method of his own design that he calls a “tapestry” method, by weaving the musical material around as if one were creating a fabric of sound. As I also know DeMars personally and am familiar with his techniques, I must say Yeagley is greatly diminishing DeMars’ efforts and creativity with a rather reductionist censure. In truth, DeMars’ accomplishments in classical music far outshine Yeagley’s.

Additionally, R. Carlos Nakai is very practiced playing classical music on Indian flutes as his many recordings show. He performs written music for American Indian flute often, in various settings and with many classical ensembles. Nakai’s first instrument (before flute) was classical trumpet; he reads and writes ‘written’ music in the classical sense. I suspect Yeagley is simply spewing sour grapes (above) after his visit with Nakai in Arizona a couple years ago was rather unfruitful for Yeagley. Rather than agreeing to perform Yeagley’s flute music, it appears that Nakai has declined to take up any opportunities that Yeagley offered.

It should be noted however, that Nakai is classically trained and does perform “classically” on his flutes, and Yeagley has misrepresented and disparaged Nakai’s abilities and accomplishments.
Jealously once again is showing in Yeagley’s demeanor. Just like Yeagley’s green-faced loathing of Redford’s Sundance Institute (which dismissed Yeagley’s entry into their competitive film scoring program), Yeagley is simply spewing ‘sour grapes’ towards a superior Indian flutist with classical chops that exceed his own.

Discounting the Deeds of Others
David Yeagley “Unfortunately, for all Ballard's serious accomplishments, he never showed any real interest in other Indian composers until the last three years of his life. In fact, he was averse to the idea of an Indian composers cadre. He made no effort to encourage young Indians to become composers. He simply went about his own work, quite successfully” (7-16-07).
On this comment above Yeagley is way out of his league, both professionally and historically. Louis Ballard was a great educator; one of Ballard’s more famous accolades was teaching music at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, in the early 1960s. There he formed Indian marching bands, Indian classical choirs, and taught many American Indian students, such as well known musician/composer Joy Harjo and others.

As a dedicated educator, Dr. Ballard researched and assembled his comprehensive anthology “American Indian Music for the Classroom,” first published as a six-album set with textbook by Canyon Records and later released under a new name, "Native American Indian Songs," as a double-CD set with textbook under Ballard’s own Wakan label. Ballard was a supremely accomplished educator of Indian youth, and was in fact a mentor to me as well.

Yeagley’s damning words for Dr. Ballard’s legacy are especially revolting, especially for those of us who knew him to be a generous and gentle teacher in addition to a gracious and accomplished composer. Yes, Dr. Ballard recently passed away. I still retain Lou’s first letter to me (1979), with his characteristic encouragement typed at the letter’s conclusion, all in capital letters, “BE BRAVE, WRITE WELL AND LIVE LONG!” Dr. Ballard was a consummate educator, mentor and friend.

Inappropriate Self-Aggrandizing

However, while the rest of Indian Country was mourning Dr. Ballard’s recent passing, Yeagley intentionally and continually blogged about Anna Nicole Smith not once but many times in a row. Not a single word about Dr. Ballard. Even after Yeagley was chided by another American Indian composer, Raven Chacon, for ignoring Dr. Ballard, Yeagley quickly dismissed Chacon’s concern and continued with his Anna Nicole rant for several additional days. Still no mention at all of Dr. Ballard.

In this exchange (below), we clearly see that Yeagley’s pursuit of Anna is ostensibly disgusting, considering that Dr. Ballard had just passed away (pay attention to the dates):
David Yeagley “Anna Nicole Who?: By public demand, Bad Eagle must comment on the passing of Anna Nicole... Bad Eagle has presented much commentary on women and womanhood, and it seems that Anna Nicole qualifies for at least a mention... All she has was a body, at least in the beginning. She birthed two children that we know of, but, any woman can do that... Revelation 22:15 says the whoremongers are outside the gates. Heaven is not theirs... However 'willing' the woman is found to be, she is the man's responsibility. It's like abortion” (2-11-07).

Raven Chacon
David, Perhaps you didn't check your email. Louis Ballard has passed on. Much more newsworthy to Native America than Anna Nicole Smith” (2-11-07).

David Yeagley “Raven, I got your first email about Ballard. I'm going to prepare a memorial essay for him. These things can't be rushed. Also, BadEagle has a lot of forums on Indian matters. Have you checked them out? Our idea here is that what Indians think about the world is important! Fancy dancin', eh?” (2-11-07).

David Yeagley “I don't think Anna (Vicki)'s mother loved her at all. Women who love their children don't push five fathers in their face. I don't hink [sic!] Anna loved her children, either” (2-12-07).

David Yeagley “Anna Nicole's Valentine: Who's the father? This is the legacy Anna Nicole Smith... Let the white race take a good look at this. If it were a black woman, or any woman of "color," there would be no such concern, no such life, and no such story, no matter how many fathers, or how much doubt about each... And we haven't even gone in to the matter of that blubbery body that developed after Vickie's porn debuts” (2-14-07).

David Yeagley “Anna Angst Syndrome: ...Everything about her story was foul... The soul of every human being is outraged, whether the anger is fully conscious or not. The story will continue, ad infinitum, because it calls forth ...the natural rage for right” (2-15-07).
The “memorial essay” that Yeagley flippantly promised to Raven Chacon was never written, but Yeagley made sure to promote his blog forums to Chacon. Nothing like a little self-promotion in a time of tragedy. Then Yeagley went right back to blogging about Anna. No memorial. No consideration. No honor. Only misdirection and obfuscation.

Playing the Victim Card

Playing ‘the victim’ yet again, Yeagley attempts to defend his erroneous claims by throwing mud at every other American Indian composer for not recognizing Yeagley’s fantastical accomplishment of being the “first” composer to write chromatically for Indian wood flute.
Like clockwork, the martyr complex resurfaces in Yeagley’s rants, attempting to set himself up as the great misunderstood composer that no other Indian composer has the capacity to comprehend.

Yeagley eagerly contrasts all other American Indian composers against himself and apparently we all fall short, for "this" reason or "that" one. Her music is not “really” classical, or his music is too “popular” to be classical, etc. All extremely narrow boxes that Yeagley alone has defined, precisely to weed out everyone but himself. Yeagley is "the first" you see; the first to compose chromatically for the wood flute.
David Yeagley “When I said I wrote the first classical music for American Indian flute and orchesta [sic!], I meant just that... Unlike other people who play or write for the Indian flute, my music involves all the notes, not just the pentatonic scale inherent. Therefore, it is the first classical music written for the American Indian flute, and the first recorded” (7-16-07).

More to American Indian "Classical" Flute Than Meets the Eye

It is unfortunate for Yeagley that he does not know the music field very well, before attempting to define and write about it. For example, R. Carlos Nakai plays flutes chromatically (not limited to pentatonic scales) and has done so for quite a number of years — long before Yeagley conveniently “turned Indian” for his own musical exploitation and commercialization.

Vince Redhouse also plays flute chromatically, rather well in fact. Vince’s expertise illustrates yet another example of Yeagley’s erroneous claims of writing the only chromatically played Indian flute music. The audio CD that Vince sent me stands in direct opposition to Yeagley's uniformed claims. There are other examples of classical (and chromatic) American Indian flute players as well.
David Yeagley “James Pellerite was the only flutist I knew that was then able to play the American Indian flute in a classical manner, as a classical instrument” (7-16-07).
Apparently, Yeagley is not too savvy about the availability of American Indian flutists in the classical music field. I, too, have been performing chromatically-sophisticated compositions on American Indian flute since 1987. I have even performed Chopin on my wood flutes; as proof I offer an American Indian flute arrangement of Chopin’s final piano Nocturne that I performed at the Joyce Theater in New York city.

As a comparison, first listen to a traditional Lakota Song on wood flute using a non-chromatic (diatonic) scale. Then, listen to the fully chromatic (12-tone) playing of the Chopin Nocturne on Indian wood flute. The two examples are easily identified as American Indian flute music, but the Chopin Nocturne is clearly being played chromatically. Quite simply, Yeagley’s claims to exclusivity in this arena are not true. Whatever opinion one has about Yeagley's compositions, he was certainly not the first to compose chromatically for Indian flute.

Padding a Resume & Being Found Out Is No Fun

Do I believe his outrageous claims of prowess about
his so-called first's in flute music, grand operas, and exclusive harmonic theories? Absolutely not. Yeagley’s approach is a classic case of tearing others down to try building himself up. Yeagley mischaracterizes George Quincy as a non-classical composer; Quincy’s too “popular” you see, but it turns out Quincy is a classical composer after all. Nakai cannot play written (chromatic) music according to Yeagley, but it turns out that Nakai really can.

The only way, it seems, that Yeagley can toot his own horn is by dressing down the career accomplishments of seasoned composers such as Dr. Ballard, R. Carlos Nakai, George Quincy, Raven Chacon, and myself. It appears that even funerals will not deter Yeagley’s self-idolizing behavior.

Yeagley’s victimhood approach, combined with his extremely “boxed” and outdated views of so-called ‘classical music’ are probably why Yeagley remains a marginal figure in the field of contemporary composition at best. Maybe a little less mudslinging at other composers and a bit more study of composition might better suit Yeagley’s budding career. But he so loves to play the unappreciated martyr, we will probably just be shaking our heads at Yeagley's malicious antics far into the future.