Dec. 11, 2012 by Olivia Drake
Wesleyan University Press’s Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music by Alvin Lucier was named an “Overlooked Book” of 2012 by the Slate Book Review. Lucier is the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, emeritus.
In the article published Nov. 28, the Slate Book Review critics suggested “20 great books you never heard about—but should’ve.”
Slate editorial assistant J. Bryan Lowder writes, “Gleaned from Lucier’s long-taught contemporary music course (No. 109) at Wesleyan, Music 109 is, indeed, Lucier’s notes, clippings from a lifetime spent making, performing, and, most importantly, listening to the ‘classical’ music of our era. For John Cage and other post-WWII composers, what was in question was the arresting, awe-inspiring possibilities of sound itself. Why bother with full-blown symphonies when just as much beauty may reside in more intimate forms—amplified brain waves, for instance, or a darkened room filled with bat-like sonar clicks. Even four minutes and 33 seconds of so-called silence can have its own kind of harmony. Music like this rewards a childlike spirit of curiosity, an appreciation of nuance, and an openness to surprise; it is often deceptively simple, and unfortunately, as Lucier writes, ‘simple things often get misunderstood.’ For those with the ears to hear, however, Lucier’s warm prose will sound a few notes of welcome clarity.”