Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 November 2012
In the winter of 1950–51 Morton Feldman composed a series of pieces titled Projections in a new notation of his own invention. The first-known graphically scored works of the postwar era, the Projections were immediately championed by Feldman's friend John Cage in the language of his budding philosophy of non-intention, a framework of thought largely alien to Feldman. In later years, Feldman instead explained the Projections through the discourse of abstract-expressionist painting, substituting its model of willful creative action for Cage's Zen-inspired doctrine of aesthetic indifference. Yet the story behind his graphic notation is more tangled still, for its sources included both Edgard Varèse and Stefan Wolpe, composers whose spatialized vision of sound influenced Feldman's new conception of the creative act. An examination of the origin and reception of the Projections offers insight into the forces that catalyzed experimental notation in postwar New York and the rationales that were ultimately ascribed to it.