You are on page 1of 3

Experimental Music and Audio Art -The essential reading list Nicolas Collins October 2013 This is a short,

highly subjective list of core reading for those interested in quickly picking up a decent grounding in experimental music and audio art. Several of the books include audio CDs. Before and After Cage an introduction to 20th Century music Alex Ross The Rest Is Noise Listening to the Twentieth Century Good history of 20th Century music useful for those who need to know what happened B.C. (before Cage). More comprehensive than 20/20. William Duckworth 20/20 20 New Sounds of the 20th Century A selective history of music of the 20th Century, heard through 20 landmark compositions, from Debussy, Joplin and Stravinsky to Cage, Lucier and Laurie Anderson. A good companion to Oceans of Sound. Experimental Music Cage and beyond (listed in rough historical sequence) John Cage Silence The classic starting point. Kenneth Silverman Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage Does a great job of explain Cages working method, esp. in a visual art context. Larry Austin and Douglas Kahn, editors Source Music of the Avant Garde, 1966 1973 Facsimile edition of the magazine of score and writing by fringe composers. Michael Nyman Experimental Music Cage and Beyond If you are going to read only one book on new music, let this be it. A superb overview of the evolution and influence of Cages ideas up to the mid-1970s. Thom Holmes Electronic and Experimental Music (2nd Edition, 2002) Brings Nyman into the 21st Century, with lots of well-selected first-person statements culled from extensive interviews.

David Toop Oceans of Sound Essentially a history of the concept of ambient music, tracing it back to the influence of Indonesian music on French composers such as Debussy and Ravel in the late 19th Century. William Duckworth Talking Music Conversations with Five Generations of American Experimental Composers As a Southerner, Duckworth is a gifted and disarming interviewer. From John Cage to John Zorn, this is the best oral history of late-20th Century music, and it follows his 20/20 neatly. Alvin Lucier Reflections/Reflexionen Interviews with, and scores by, one of the most revolutionary, articulate composers working today. Derek Bailey Improvisation Interviews and observations on improvisation in music ranging from free improvisation to Baroque music to Indian ragas. George Lewis A Power Stronger Than Itself -- The AACM And American Experimental Music Brilliant history and analysis of the African-American avant garde. Georgina Born Rationalizing Culture Entertaining anthropological analysis of IRCAM, the French music research center. John Zorn, editor Arcana Essays by a number of musicians who established their reputations in the 1980s. Some are tiresome, but some most notably those by George Lewis and Fred Frith are excellent. John Lely & James Saunders Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation Good collection of prose scores, with analyses. Austin, Kahn & Gurusinge, editors Source: Music of the Avant-garde, 1966-1973 Scaled-down facsimile collection of most of the material from this important periodical of scores and interviews.

Sound Art and Critical Theory Douglas Kahn Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts The book that started the sound art theory wave. Jonathan Sterne The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction Picks up where Kahn leaves off. Christopher Cox and Daniel Warner, editors Audio Culture Readings in Modern Music Massive collection of essays by 57 artists and critics from Luigi Russolo to DJ Spooky, covering music and sound art. Seth Kim-Cohen In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sound Art The latest angle on Sound Art. Recording history, future and impact Mark Katz Capturing Sound How Technology Has Changed Music Excellent history of the influence of recording on music composition, performance and consumption. David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard The Future of Music Manifesto for the Digital Revolution From an unlikely source (Berklee press) comes a far-reaching analysis of the impact file sharing on music. Simon Reynolds Retromania Pop Cultures Addiction to Its Own Past On the tyranny of recent history in Pop music. Miscellaneous Leonardo Music Journal Each volume of this annual journal features a different theme (David Tudor, English Music, Pleasure, etc.), a dozen or more articles by artists from all over the world about their own music, and an audio CD.