Contemporary Music Lecture 4

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					 Contemporary Music Lecture 4
• To look at work of 60s generation of British
  composers that came out of the experimentalism
  and minimalism in the 60s and 70s.
• All were involved to some extent with Cardew,
  the Scratch Orchestra and the Portsmouth
• Best read about in Michael Nyman’s Experimental
  Music, Cage and Beyond.
• To look at what they did in the 60s and 70s and
             Who were they
• In America the group was lead by Cage – but
  included Morton Feldman, La Monte Young, Earl
  Brown and Christian Wolff
• First Generation of American Minimalists – Steve
  Reich, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Ben Jonson.
• In Britain the experimentalists and minimalists
  were never clearly separated – led by Cardew the
  generation included Michael Nyman, Gavin
  Bryars, Michael Parsons, Chris Hobbs
    Definitions of Experimental
• Cage quote – evolving processes to bring about
  acts `the outcome of which are unknown’
• 1. Chance determination processes – e.g. Music of
• 2. People processes – performers go through
  material at his own speed – Cardew’s Great
  Learning – Portsmouth Sinfonia
• 3. Contextual processes – actions dependent on
  unpredictable outcomes
• 3. Repetition processes – Riley’s in C
• 4. Electronic processes -
• Cage’s Harpsichord
             Unique Moment
• All processes produce configurations that are
  impermanent and unique to that moment.
• No performance can be repeated – the outcome
  will always be strikingly different.
• Recordings of such works are no more than
  postcards of the events.
• Fluidity of composer/performer/listener roles –
  breaking away from the standard
  sender/carrier/receiver information structure of
  other forms of Western Music.
               Fluxus Events
• Cage’s 4’33’’ the starting out.
• Focus on the theatrical event – Happening at
  Black Mountain College.
• Development of a school of artists interested in the
  performance aspects of musical events. Marcel
  Duchamp an inspiration.
• George Brecht best known – e.g.Comb music and
  Drip music. (others – La Monte Young and T.
• Most Fluxus occurred in the early sixties on
  American Campuses.
              Electron Music
• Reich’s Pendulum Music – also an electronic
  piece and an early minimalist piece. One of many
  pieces of the time that used feedback.
• Bryars interested in this from the first – hidden
  systems in particular. E.g. 1-2-3-4- (1971).
• Many of such pieces developed into `gradual
  music processes’ which developed slowly over
  time. Creating loops – which may be lengthened
  little by little so that the reverberation time
  produced a complicated process that could be spun
  out over time.
  Cardew in the UK – New takes
       on Indeterminacy
• One direction of indeterminacy in the late sixties
  was towards accessibility by non-musicians – this
  contrasts with the early sixties when it was
  dominated by an elite of mainly professional
• Notations gradually adapted from the specific to
  the generalised graphic scores.
• Cardew’s scores form 1961-70 show desire to
  nurture performers. Ideals and aspirations at the
            Scratch Orchestra
• A pool of performers and composers – notation
  developed to engage the people. Notation to
  stimulate the performer.
• Treatise 1963-7. Totally graphic ‘the sound should
  be a picture of the score not the other way round’.
• The Great Learning 1968-71. Based on 4 books of
  Confucian religion.
• Example of paragraph 2: the available resources
  are divided up into a number of groups – each has
  a drummer, lead singer and other singers. The
  drummer begins by playing any the 26 notated
  rhythms and he it over and over again like a tape
vailable resources are divided up into a number of groups – each
            Scratch Orchestra
• The need to bring a large number of non-specialist
  people together as doers rather than watchers – for
  paragraph 2 of the great learning, led to The
  Scratch Orchestra.
• Co-founder by Cardew, Skempton and Parsons.
  Draft constitution.
• Embodiment of educational, musical, social and
  ethical ideas. `It fosters communal activity, ti
  breaks down barrier between private and group
  activity, between professional and amateur – it is a
  means to sharing experience’. 1970.
            More Scratching
• Each member in rotation starting with the
  youngest had the option of designing a
  concert – location, duration, contents, etc-
  in which as many of as few as were able or
  interested took part.
• Main activity between 1969-1970. Hugely
  influential in ideas of community music
  making and improvisation.

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