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Contemporary Music Lecture 4

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Fluidity of composer/performer/listener roles breaking away from the standard ... A pool of performers and composers notation developed to engage the people. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Contemporary Music Lecture 4


1
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 Sinfonia.
  • Best read about in Michael Nymans Experimental
    Music, Cage and Beyond.
  • To look at what they did in the 60s and 70s and
    since.

2
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
  • gt

3
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
    Changes
  • 2. People processes performers go through
    material at his own speed Cardews Great
    Learning Portsmouth Sinfonia
  • 3. Contextual processes actions dependent on
    unpredictable outcomes
  • 3. Repetition processes Rileys in C
  • 4. Electronic processes -

4
Happenings
  • Cages Harpsichord

5
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.

6
Fluxus Events
  • Cages 433 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.
    Kosugi)
  • Most Fluxus occurred in the early sixties on
    American Campuses.
  • Most interest was in audience as a social
    situation.

7
Electron Music
  • Reichs 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.

8
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 musicians.
  • Notations gradually adapted from the specific to
    the generalised graphic scores.
  • Cardews scores form 1961-70 show desire to
    nurture performers. Ideals and aspirations at
    the fore.

9
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
    loop for the duration of each of the vocal
    periods. This consist of 25 pentatonic phrases
    of 5 or 6 notes each, each note, together with a
    word or words of the text, being held for the
    length of the breath. The lead singer beings his
    new note after all the singers have finished the
    previous note, and it is picked up by the other
    singers. When the whole phrase is finished the
    drummer moves to another rhythm and the process
    is repeated.
  • The function of the music is to clear the space
    for spontaneous music making.
  • Leading on to free Jazz improvisation AMM and
    MEV.

10
  • 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
    loop for the duration of each of the vocal
    periods. This consist of 25 pentatonic phrases
    of 5 or 6 notes each, each note, together with a
    word or words of the text, being held for the
    length of the breath. The lead singer beings his
    new note after all the singers have finished the
    previous note, and it is picked up by the other
    singers. When the whole phrase is finished the
    drummer moves to another rhythm and the process
    is repeated.

11
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.

12
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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