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The Rise and Fall of “Indie Classical”: Tracing a Controversial Term in Twenty-First Century New Music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2018

Abstract

In its inaugural 2007 press release, New York–based New Amsterdam Records announced its mission to “foster a sense of connection among musicians and fans in this ‘indie classical’ scene.” New Amsterdam's publicity apparatus brought “indie classical” into widespread media circulation, but by 2013 the label had ceased using the term. In the intervening years, the meaning of indie classical had been hotly contested by the community of musicians it was meant to champion. Drawing on more than fifty interviews, archival research, and reception history from traditional publications and new online sources, I recreate the rise and fall of indie classical as it transpired over a decade. Tracing the background of the composers and performers who first labeled themselves as indie classical, unveiling the origins of the term and how it was disseminated, and examining the debates that surrounded it and its subsequent decline reveals how the aesthetic discourse of new music is constructed in the twenty-first century.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Music 2018 

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References

References

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New Amsterdam Records. Private collection, digital.Google Scholar
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Unless otherwise noted, interviews were conducted in person.Google Scholar
Andres, Timo. Interview with author, January 9, 2015.Google Scholar
Aomori, Hideaki. Interview with author, November 16, 2014.Google Scholar
Argue, Darcy James. Interview with author, October 9, 2015.Google Scholar
Bresnick, Martin. Interview with author, December 18, 2015.Google Scholar
Brittelle, William. Interview with author, September 5, 2014.Google Scholar
Burhans, Caleb. Interview with author, April 18, 2015.Google Scholar
Burke, Patrick. Interview with author, September 29, 2014.Google Scholar
Cabezas, Gabriel. Interview with author, April 23, 2015.Google Scholar
Camerieri, C. J. Interview with author, November 16, 2014.Google Scholar
Daugherty, Michael. Phone interview with author, November 25, 2015.Google Scholar
Gordon, Michael. Interview with author, January 21, 2016.Google Scholar
Greene, Jayson. Interview with author, November 2, 2015.Google Scholar
Greenstein, Judd. Interview with author, April 26, 2015.Google Scholar
Hammond, Michael. Interview with author, August 14, 2014.Google Scholar
Hammond, Michael. Interview with author, March 5, 2015.Google Scholar
Hearne, Ted. Interview with author, October 15, 2015.Google Scholar
Jensen, Clarice. Interview with author, April 18, 2015.Google Scholar
Kahane, Gabriel. Interview with author, March 23, 2015.Google Scholar
Kozinn, Allan. Interview with author, November 11, 2014.Google Scholar
Lang, David. Interview with author, January 19, 2016.Google Scholar
Laplante, Travis. Interview with author, January 26, 2015.Google Scholar
Lee, Andrea. Interview with author, November 16, 2014.Google Scholar
Little, David T. Interview with author, December 7, 2015.Google Scholar
Marks, Matt. Interview with author, September 21, 2015.Google Scholar
Mazzoli, Missy. Interview with author, November 10, 2015.Google Scholar
McBane, Matt. Interview with author, September 19, 2015.Google Scholar
Mizrahi, Michael. Interview with author, November 6, 2015.Google Scholar
Moore, Lisa. Interview with author, December 18, 2015.Google Scholar
Morgan, Gayle. Interview with author, December 22, 2015.Google Scholar
Nordstrum, Kate. Interview with author, January 18, 2016.Google Scholar
Nova [formerly Worden], Shara. Phone interview with author, March 7, 2014.Google Scholar
Nova [formerly Worden], Shara. Interview with author, April 25, 2015.Google Scholar
Phillips, Joseph C. Jr. Interview with author, December 1, 2015.Google Scholar
Reynolds, Todd. Phone interview with author, January 25, 2017.Google Scholar
Rockwell, John. Interview with author, March 5, 2015.Google Scholar
Ross, Alex. Interview with author, December 16, 2015.Google Scholar
Ryan, Norman. Interview with author, November 2, 2015.Google Scholar
Sadigursky, Sam. Interview with author, November 9, 2015.Google Scholar
Savelson, Kenny. Interview with author, December 8, 2015.Google Scholar
Schaefer, John. Interview with author, December 2, 2015.Google Scholar
Schick, Steve. Phone interview with author, December 21, 2015.Google Scholar
Sirota, Nadia. Interview with author, November 17, 2014.Google Scholar
Snider, Sarah Kirkland. Phone interview with author, March 22, 2014.Google Scholar
Snider, Sarah Kirkland. Interview with author, April 26, 2015.Google Scholar
Sopp, Alex. Interview with author, November 18, 2014.Google Scholar
Supko, John. Interview with author, September 3, 2014.Google Scholar
Swartz, Steven. Interview with author, March 6, 2015.Google Scholar
Swed, Mark. Interview with author, October 22, 2015.Google Scholar
Wolfe, Julia. Interview with author, February 28, 2016.Google Scholar
Young, Jeffrey. Interview with author, November 22, 2014.Google Scholar
Ziporyn, Evan. Interview with author, January 5, 2016.Google Scholar
Billboard Google Scholar
Boston Globe Google Scholar
The Guardian Google Scholar
I Care If You Listen Google Scholar
Los Angeles Times Google Scholar
NewMusicBox Google Scholar
New York Magazine Google Scholar
New Yorker Google Scholar
New York Times Google Scholar
Pitchfork Google Scholar
Time Out New York Google Scholar
Village Voice Google Scholar
Washington Post Google Scholar
Greenstein, Judd. http://juddgreenstein.com. No longer available; archived through Wayback Machine.Google Scholar
Lafferty, Maura. http://mauralafferty.com. No longer available; archived through Wayback Machine.Google Scholar
Bernard, Jonathan. “The Minimalist Aesthetic in the Plastic Arts and in Music.” Perspectives of New Music 31, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 86132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blake, David. “Bildung Culture: Elite Popular Music and the American University, 1960–2010.” PhD diss., Stony Brook University, 2014.Google Scholar
Blake, David. “Musicological Omnivory in the Neoliberal University.” Journal of Musicology 34, no. 3 (Summer 2017): 319–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonds, Mark Evan. Absolute Music: The History of an Idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carter, Tim. “Artusi, Monteverdi, and the Poetics of Modern Music.” In Musical Humanism and Its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Claude V. Palisca, edited by Kovaleff Baker, Nancy and Russano Hanning, Barbara, 171–94. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Dessen, Michael. “Decolonizing Art Music: Scenes from the Late Twentieth-Century United States.” PhD diss., University of California at San Diego, 2003.Google Scholar
Drott, Eric. “The End(s) of Genre.” Journal of Music Theory 57, no. 1 (2013): 145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drott, Eric. “Spectralism, Politics, and the Post-Industrial Imagination.” In The Modernist Legacy: Essays on New Music, edited by Heile, Björn, 3960. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009.Google Scholar
Hesmondhalgh, David. “Indie: The Institutional Politics and Aesthetics of a Popular Music Genre.” Cultural Studies 13, no. 1 (1999): 3461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
James, Robin. “Is the Post- in Post-Identity the Post- in Post-Genre?Popular Music 36, no. 1 (January 2017): 2132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, Timothy A.Minimalism: Aesthetic, Style, or Technique?Musical Quarterly 78, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 741–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levy, Janet. “Covert and Casual Values in Recent Writings about Music.” Journal of Musicology 5, no. 1 (Winter 1987): 327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lewis, George. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
George, Lewis. “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives.” Black Music Research Journal 16, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 92122.Google Scholar
Moore, Andrea. “Neoliberalism and the Musical Entrepreneur.” Journal of the Society for American Music 10, no. 1 (2016): 3353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Palisca, Claude V.The Artusi–Monteverdi Controversy.” In The Monteverdi Companion, edited by Arnold, Denis and Fortune, Nigel, 127–58. London: Faber, 1985.Google Scholar
Phillips, Joseph C. Jr., “The Music Composition ‘Miscēre,’ the History of Mixed Music and New Amsterdam Records in the Contemporary New York City Mixed Music Scene.” MM thesis, Stephen F. Austin State University, 2011.Google Scholar
Piekut, Benjamin. “Actor-Networks in Music History: Clarifications and Critiques.” Twentieth-Century Music 11, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 191215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piekut, Benjamin. Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Potter, Keith, Gann, Kyle, and ap Siôn, Pwyll, eds. The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music. Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013.Google Scholar
Robin, William. “A Scene Without a Name: Indie Classical and American New Music in the Twenty-First Century.” PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016.Google Scholar
Ross, Alex. Listen to This. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.Google Scholar
Schaefer, John. New Sounds: A Listener's Guide to New Music. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.Google Scholar
Whitesell, Lloyd. “White Noise: Race and Erasure in the Cultural Avant-Garde.” American Music 19, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 168–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wolfe, Julia. “Embracing the Clash.” PhD diss., Princeton University, 2012.Google Scholar
Taylor, Stephen S. The End of New Music. Brooklyn, NY: American Beat Films, 2007. DVD.Google Scholar
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