Sound Commitments

Sound Commitments : Avant-garde Music and the Sixties

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The role of popular music is widely recognized in giving voice to radical political views, the plight of the oppressed, and the desire for social change. Avant-garde music, by contrast, is often thought to prioritize the pursuit of new technical or conceptual territory over issues of human and social concern. Yet throughout the activist 1960s, many avant-garde musicians were convinced that aesthetic experiment and social progressiveness made natural bedfellows. Intensely involved in the era's social and political upheavals, they often sought to reflect this engagement in their music. Yet how could avant-garde musicians make a meaningful contribution to social change if their music remained the preserve of a tiny, initiated clique? In answer, Sound Commitments, examines the encounter of avant-garde music and "the Sixties" across a range of genres, aesthetic positions and geographical locations.
Through music for the concert hall, tape and electronic music, jazz and improvisation, participatory "events," performance art, and experimental popular music, the essays in this volume explore developments in the United States, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Japan and parts of the "Third World," delving into the deep richness of avant-garde musicians' response to the decade's defining cultural shifts. Featuring new archival research and/or interviews with significant figures of the period in each chapter, Sound Commitments will appeal to researchers and advanced students in the fields of post-war music, cultures of the 1960s, and the avant-garde, as well as to an informed general readership.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 17.78mm | 385.55g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 9 halftones, 17 line illustrations
  • 0195336658
  • 9780195336658
  • 1,515,599

Review quote

a wide-ranging survey, and a valuable one...Deftly editied by Robert Adlington...throws a revealing light on a movement with too many manifestos in 'a decade that saw some of its most singular and provocative manifestations'. * Michael Quinn, Classical Music * This book encapsulates how and why popular music engages with politics and it is an illuminating read ... [an] original, enjoyable and very readable book. * Guy Osborn, Times Higher Education *
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About Robert Adlington

Robert Adlington is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Nottingham. He has written extensively on contemporary classical music, including monographs on Harrison Birtwistle (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Louis Andriessen (Ashgate, 2004). His current research explores music and politics in Amsterdam between 1966 and 1973, and has resulted in book chapters and articles in Journal of Musicology and Cambridge Opera
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Table of contents

List of contributors ; Introduction: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties ; 1. Avant-garde-Some Introductory Notes on the Politics of a Label ; 2. "Demolish Serious Culture!": Henry Flynt and Workers World Party ; 3. Forms of Opposition at the 'Politiek-Demonstratief Experimenteel' Concert ; 4. Aesthetic Theories and Revolutionary Practice: Nikolaus A. Huber and Clytus Gottwald in Dissent ; 5. "Music is a Universal Human Right": Musica Elettronica Viva ; 6. The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich's Come Out ; 8. ONCE and the Sixties ; 9. "Scream Against the Sky": Japanese Avant-garde Music in the Sixties ; 10. After the October Revolution: The Jazz Avant-garde in New York, 1964-65 ; 11. American Cultural Diplomacy and the Mediation of Avant-garde Music ; 12. From Scriabin to Pink Floyd: the ANS Synthesizer and the Politics of Soviet ; Index
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