In this insider’s view, composer and performer Lucier brings clarity to the world of experimental music as he takes the reader through more than a hundred groundbreaking musical works, including those of Robert Ashley, John Cage, Charles Ives, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, Christian Wolff and La Monte Young.
Lucier explains in detail how each piece is made, unlocking secrets of the composers’ style and technique. The book as a whole charts the progress of American experimental music from the 1950s to the present, covering such topics as indeterminacy, electronics, and minimalism, as well as radical innovations in music for the piano, string quartet and opera.
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.”
For 40 years, Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, emeritus, has pioneered music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.
On Nov. 4-6, the Music Department and Center for the Arts celebrated Lucier’s remarkable musical career and contributions. Lucier retired in June 2010. Photos of the event are below. (Information provided by Andy Chatfield, press and marketing manager for the CFA)
Patrons explore the exhibit "Alvin Lucier (and His Artist Friends)" during the opening reception in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Nov. 5. The exhibit, curated by Andrea Miller-Keller, includes audio recordings, video, scores and album/CD artwork of musical compositions; selected works by other artists that have inspired or been inspired by Lucier's work, or exchanged ideas with the composer in meaningful ways; and memorabilia and ephemera of historical interest in the life and career of Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, emeritus. The exhibit is on display through Dec. 11.
For 40 years, Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, has pioneered music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.
His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra in which, by means of close tunings with pure tones, sound waves are caused to spin through space.
On Nov. 4-6, the Music Department and Center for the Arts will celebrate Lucier’s remarkable musical career and contributions. Lucier retires this June.
The celebration will be held over Homecoming/Family weekend. It will include a symposium, concerts and Zilkha Gallery exhibition titled, “Alvin Lucier and His Artist Friends,” curated by Andrea Miller-Keller.