Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 11 | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University
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  • Introduction: Not Necessarily “English Music”: Britain's Second “Golden Age”
    Nicolas Collins
  • The Scratch Orchestra and Visual Arts
    Michael Parsons
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    The Scratch Orchestra, formed in London in 1969 by Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton, included visual and performance artists as well as musicians and other participants from diverse backgrounds, many of them without formal training. This article deals primarily with the earlier phase of the orchestra's activity, between 1969 and 1971. It describes the influence of the work of John Cage and Fluxus artists, involving the dissolution of boundaries between sonic and visual elements in performance and the use of everyday materials and activities as artistic resources. It assesses the conflicting impulses of discipline and spontaneity in the work of the Scratch Orchestra and in the parallel activity of the Portsmouth Sinfonia and other related groups. The emergence in the early 1970s of more controlled forms of compositional activity, in reaction against anarchic and libertarian aspects of the Scratch Orchestra's ethos, is also discussed.

  • Cardew as a Basis for a Discussion on Ethical Options
    Coriún Aharonián
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    The author discusses the relationship between the music and the politics of Cornelius Cardew, placing it in the context of his background and the period in which he worked. As a socially committed composer trained in elite and avant-garde conventions, Cardew struggled to create a music “for the people.” The results, if contradictory, have nevertheless proven to be of enduring value for his contemporaries and successors.

  • The New English Keyboard School: A Second “Golden Age”
    Sarah E. Walker
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    The author discusses the musical trajectories of several avant-garde English composers, in particular their increasing attention to works for piano. She analyzes the historical roots of this new movement and its relation to the experimental tradition from which it developed, finding continuities perhaps not often recognized or understood.

  • The Arrival of a New Musical Aesthetic: Extracts from a Half-Buried Diary
    Eddie Prévost
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    The author recounts the origins and growth of London's “newmusic” scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s and some later developments issuing from it. He describes some outstanding ensembles, collaborations and events of the period from his vantage point as a participant in such improvisational ventures as AMM, the Scratch Orchestra and the London Musicians' Cooperative.

  • Imaging Music: Abstract Expressionism and Free Improvisation
    Matthew Sansom
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    The author defines free improvisation, a form of music-making that first emerged in the 1960s with U.K. composers and groups such as Cardew, Bailey, AMM and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. The approach here considers free improvisation as creative activity, encompassing its artistic agenda on the one hand and the process-based dynamic of its production on the other. After considering the historical location of free improvisation within Western music history, the article explores free improvisation as analogous with Abstract Expressionist art. This comparison enables a fuller understanding of the activity's conceptual basis and the creative process it engenders.

  • Between Now and Then: The Auto-Interview of a Lapsed Musician
    Ranulph Glanville
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    The author reflects on his experiences in the English experimental music scene of the 1960s and early 1970s, describing the limitations and possibilities he and his colleagues encountered and the results that followed from them. He also discusses the connections and discontinuities between this musical work and his current career in cybernetics. This discussion takes the form of a dialogue between his past self, the experimental composer, and his present identity as a researcher in cybernetics.

  • Plus ça change: Journeys, Instruments and Networks, 1966–2000
    Lawrence Casserley
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    The author has been using electronic means in performance since the late 1960s. In this article he compares his work in the 1970s and 1990s from both technical and philosophical viewpoints. How do these two periods differ? How are they similar? He concludes that, partly due to recent technological developments, he has been able in recent years to explore more deeply and broadly the aims that he established in the earlier period.

  • On Stuart Marshall: Composer, Video Artist and Filmmaker, 1949–1993
    Alvin Lucier
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    Alvin Lucier reminisces about his former student and colleague Stuart Marshall. Marshall's sound works investigated such phenomena as the threshold of hearing and the displacement of sound environments, through scores that combined participants and equipment in incongruous ways, with instructions based on seemingly contradictory statements, creating unexpected groupings and responses.

  • Gentle Fire: An Early Approach to Live Electronic Music
    Hugh Davies
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    The author describes the circumstances of the formation and development of the live electronic music group Gentle Fire, in discussing aspects affecting elecronic music in general and those particular to the ensemble. He stresses Gentle Fire's distinctive approaches toward collaboration and technology, giving particular attention to its unique group compositions. Collaborations with contemporaries are also discussed. Finally, the author addresses the factors leading to the dissolution of the group.

  • Making It Up as You Go Along
    Stuart Jones
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    The author reflects on his career as an experimental musician, both in the early improvisational group Gentle Fire and in later work, including his membership in British Summer Time Ends and Kahondo Style. He discusses some of the common threads running throughout his work, such as surreal juxtapositions, random processes and constant invention and transformation.

  • Remembering How to Forget: An Artist's Exploration of Sound
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    This article is an introduction to the work of electronic sound artist Scanner, which explores the place of memory, the cityscape and the relationship between the public and the private within contemporary sound art. Beginning with a historical look at his CD releases a decade ago, the article explores his move from his cellular phone works to his more collaborative digital projects in recent times. With descriptions of several significant performance works, public art commissions and film soundtrack work, the piece explores the resonances and meanings with the ever-changing digital landscape of a contemporary sound artist.

  • AudiOh!: Appropriation, Accident and Alteration
    Janek Schaefer
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    The major theme of the author's work as a sound artist and musician has been the appropriation and alteration of sound and its existing reproduction systems. The three projects discussed here use familiar devices in ways that both usurp and extend their inherent characteristics and imperfections. As ideas, these projects all re-examine the use of the ready-made, be it with objects or with sounds. The author's piece entitled Recorded Delivery appropriated a sound-activated Dictaphone to trace the journey of a parcel through the post. His invention of the Tri-Phonic Turntable allowed him to manipulate and accidentally discover “new” sounds buried within any vinyl terrain. Lastly, for his Wow 7″ project, he cut the music eccentrically onto the record surface to induce fluctuations in the sound playback and thus fundamentally alter its audible and visual nature.

  • Rorschach Audio: Ghost Voices and Perceptual Creativity
    Joe Banks
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    The author considers research into allegedly supernatural “Electronic Voice Phenomena” (EVP) in light of both anecdotal reports and formal experimental studies of related aspects of human auditory perception. He offers the primary hypothesis that an understanding of the relevant aspects of psychoacoustics provides a complete explanation for most EVP recordings, and a secondary hypothesis that an informed understanding of these processes is as relevant to the emergent field of sound art as studies of optical illusions have been to the study of visual art.

  • Not Necessarily Captured, Except as a Fleeting Glance
    David Toop
  • Performants (1971)
    Simon Emmerson
  • Wedged into Release (1971)
    Frank Perry
  • Piece For Cello and Accordion (1974)
    Michael Parsons
  • Four Aspects (1960)
    Hugh Davies
  • Part 3 (1968)
    Terry Day
  • The Judith Poem (1973)
    Bob Cobbing
  • Music for Three Springs (1977)
    Hugh Davies
  • Plum (1973)
    Lol Coxhill
  • Toy Piano (1975) AND Voice (1974)
    Steve Beresford
  • Duet for One String Banjo and Water Cistern (1971)
    Ron Geesin
  • Group Composition VI (Unfixed Parities) (1974)
    Hugh Davies
  • Nona Meyeah Teay (1967)
    Ranulph Glanville
  • Pharoah's March (1970)
    Mike Cooper
  • Pilgrimage from Scattered Points on the Surface of the Body to the Brain, the Inner Ear, the Heart and the Stomach (1970)
    Bryn Harris
  • Geese (C. 1974)
    Peter Cusack
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LMJ 11 CD Companion

Contributors' Notes


Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 11

December 2001