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Experimental Music
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  • 67 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 218 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.43 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 780/.9/04
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: ML197 .N85 1999
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Music--20th century--History and criticism
    • Political science--Comparative method
    • Ethnic relations--Political aspects
    • Nationalism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521653831 | ISBN-10: 0521653835)

Michael Nyman's book is a first-hand account of experimental music from 1950 to 1970. First published in 1974, it has remained the classic text on a significant form of music making and composing which developed alongside, and partly in opposition to, the post-war modernist tradition of composers such as Boulez, Berio, or Stockhausen. The experimentalist par excellence was John Cage whose legendary 4' 33'' consists of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence to be performed on any instrument. Such pieces have a conceptual rather than purely musical starting point and radically challenge conventional notions of the musical work. Nyman's book traces the revolutionary attitudes that were developed towards concepts of time, space, sound, and composer/performer responsibility. It was within the experimental tradition that the seeds of musical minimalism were sown and the book contains reference to the early works of Reich, Riley, Young, and Glass.

• The author is a very well-known composer, especially of film music (The Piano, The Draughtsman's Contract etc.) • Originally published in 1974 by Studio VISTA, Cassell and Collier, MacMillan • This book has been out of print since 1980 and copies of the original are much sought after • It is still the only detailed account of this music, now seen to be so influential on music of the present day • Foreword by the composer Brian Eno, former member of Roxy Music and producer for David Bowie and U2


Foreword Brian Eno; Preface to the second edition; 1. Towards (a definition of) experimental music; 2. Backgrounds; 3. Inauguration 1950–60: Feldman, Brown, Wolff, Cage; 4. Seeing, hearing: Fluxus; 5. Electronic systems; 6. Indeterminacy 1960–70: Ichiyanagai, Ashley, Wolff, Cardew, Scratch Orchestra; 7. Minimal music, determinacy and the new tonality; Discography Robert Worby.


'Nyman's book remains a privileged window into that strange world, and its republication will be a boon to a new generation.' BBC Music Magazine

'… a welcome reissue of the book … Above all, Experimental Music is a useful source book for a period of radicalism in musical practice in which the rule was to break the rules.' Music Teacher


Robert Worby

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