Experimental Music Cage and Beyond – Michael Nyman (1972)


“… Nyman is a composer directly influenced by, and practicing within the culture of late twentieth century minimalist music. Nyman’s career is laden with examples of working with filmmakers on soundtracks [especially Peter Greenaway] to create a symbiosis of moving image and music. He has also composed a huge repertoire of music for strings and more recently, operas. Nyman’s work is audibly influenced by the canonistic nature of baroque music. This book clearly indicates the significance of John Cage’s presence in the beginnings of post war experimental music. Nyman starts chapter one with analysis of Cage’s 4’33’’, the undeniably experimental work which requires the performer only to sit at the piano for the duration specified in the title of this work. Nyman quickly gets to the point of identifying a difference between experimental and avant-garde music, which can be summarised in two quotes from Cage and Stockhausen (Nyman 1999 p.29). Cage suggests here and in other parts of Nyman’s book that he attempts to create experiments or situations within his work, and that the work can begin to exist in the mind of the audience as a consequence. Stockhausen is referenced for the avant-garde and describes how he accepts that experiments should be allowed to happen as long as the results do not clash or set components off balance thereby leading the composer to fail in creating harmony. In chapter four, Nyman gives a good review of Fluxus actions with respect to sound and music. He offers many examples of George Brecht’s pieces of written instruction. He compares Cage’s instruction works to Brecht’s and suggests that Cage allows all performers equal involvement allowing for differences in their abilities. … In the first half of chapter seven Nyman reviews American minimalism in light of developments in New York at the hand of La Monte Young and his Theatre of Eternal Music. He also explains that by the early 1960s; Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass and La Monte Young were about to begin to limit the very high levels of indeterminacy with which they had been working. Nyman explains that Young was attracted to the work of Anton Webern in terms of it’s use of tones that are held across octaves throughout large portions of Webern’s work. …”
Concerning Temporality in Music
W – Michael Nyman
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[PDF] Experimental Music Cage and Beyond, [PDF] Experimental Music Cage and Beyond

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