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American Experimental Music 1890–1940
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  • 48 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 252 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.44 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521424646 | ISBN-10: 052142464X)

From the end of the nineteenth century a national musical consciousness gradually developed in the USA as composers began to turn away from the European conventions on which their music had hitherto been modelled. It was in this period of change that experimentation was born. In this book, the composer and scholar David Nicholls considers the most influential figures in the development of American experimental music, including Charles Ives, Charles Seeger, Ruth Crawford, Henry Cowell, and the young John Cage. He analyses the music and ideas of this group, explaining the compositional techniques invented and employed by them and the historical and cultural context in which they emerged.

• Provides important and clearly written information for course work in modern American music • Covers major composers and works of the period • Should have student market in paperback


Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: the new and the experimental; 2. In Re Con Moto Et Al: experimentalism in the works of Charles Ives; 3. 'On Dissonant Counterpoint': the development of a new polyphony, primarily by Charles Seeger, Carl Ruggles and Ruth Crawford; 4. New Musical resources: radical innovation in the music of Henry Cowell; 5. 'The Future of Music: Credo': the development of a philosophy of experimentation in the early works of John Cage; 6. Conclusion: unity through diversity; Select bibliography; Appendix: musical editions and selected readings.

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