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Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voiceby Kyle Gann
Synopses & Reviews
"This is an indispensable piece of living history, documenting an absolutely crucial moment in the development of 21st century music. For many of these pieces and composers, Gann's discussion is the only record we have. The criticism is at the highest level: careful yet uncompromising, historically informed, erudite, and well-expressed."—Robert Fink, University of California, Los Angeles
"A highly intelligent and vividly engaged depiction of the new music scene over the last several years. The music Gann discusses is some of the most important being produced today, as well as the least attended to by scholars and the media. The 'you are there' feel of these articles conveys the intellectual and artistic rigor behind the music, as well as the passion and commitment of its makers. The writing is polemical, emotional, advocatory; Gann is often provocative, and always honest and forceful."—Evan Ziporyn , Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clarinetist and Composer, Bang On A Can All-stars
"The late 1980s and the 1990s were probably the most contentious years in the history of American music, especially in New York. The Soho News had folded. The New York Times had opted out. During this time, Kyle Gann was consistently the most interesting, reliable and honest reviewer in all of New York. Everybody read him. Probably every composer mentioned in this book would want to "correct" what has been said about her or his music. But you can't argue with Kyle. His opinions are too deeply felt. He is too well-studied. He writes too well. And he is too smart."—Robert Ashley, Composer
"No one else could have written this marvelous book. No one else has been so completely immersed in "new music" as has Gann for some twenty years—and moreover likes it. No other music critic is so courageous, communicative, compelling, and candid (if now and then contentious)—or writes such consummately crystalline, convincing prose. Hurrah! Huzzah!!"—H. Wiley Hitchcock, Distinguished Professor of Music emeritus, CUNY, and founding director, Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College
"Aficionados of experimental music of the late 20th century will revel in Gann's excellent collection of Village Voice columns from the late 1980s and 1990s on New York City's vibrant downtown venues. Getting his start in writing criticism for several Chicago newspapers in the early '80s, Gann was hired as music critic for the Voice in 1986, churning out weekly dispatches on the city's cutting-edge music, composers and concerts, of which about 100 samples out of over 500 are included here. As provocative as Lester Bangs's rock writing and as uncompromising as Nat Hentoff's jazz and blues work, Gann's writing is strong and powerful as it covers such diverse subjects as sampling, popular tastes, multiculturalism, renegade operas, the demise of 12-tone music, commercial minimalism and serialism. Whether writing on the political correctness of art or the sometimes elitist aesthetics of performance music, Gann does not mince words (or bite his tongue). Although he regrets that some of his longer pieces are not included, he does himself proud with his probing chats with such pioneers as Robert Ashley, Glenn Blanca, Philip Glass, Leroy Jenkins, Fred Ho and Yoko Ono. Gann's astute collection deserves to be savored." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This collection represents the cream of the more than five hundred articles written for the Village Voice by Kyle Gann, a leading authority on experimental American music of the late twentieth century. Charged with exploring every facet of cutting-edge music coming out of New York City in the 1980s and '90s, Gann writes about a wide array of timely issues that few critics have addressed, including computer music, multiculturalism and its thorny relation to music, music for the AIDS crisis, the brand-new art of electronic sampling and its legal implications, symphonies for electric guitars, operas based on talk shows, the death of twelve-tone music, and the various streams of music that flowed forth from minimalism. In these articles—including interviews with Yoko Ono, Philip Glass, Glenn Branca, and other leading musical figures—Gann paints a portrait of a bristling era in music history and defines the scruffy, vernacular field of Downtown music from which so much of the most fertile recent American music has come.
A collection of the best essays by Kyle Gann, the music critic of the Village Voice, who has specialized in writing about new music for the past 18 years.
About the Author
Kyle Gann is music critic for the Village Voice and Associate Professor of Music at Bard College. He is the author of American Music in the Twentieth Century (1997) and The Music of Conlon Nancarrow (1995).
Table of Contents
Preface: New Music and the Village Voice
Introduction: The Importance of Being Downtown
Shouting at the Dead: Robert Ashleys Neoplatonist TV Operas
The Part That Doesnt Fit Is Me: Yoko Ono, the Inventor of Downtown
Midtown Avant-Gardist: Philip Glass Sails Columbus into a Clash of Keys and Cultures
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