NEH logo
[Return to Query]

Products for grant FT-58584-11

FT-58584-11
No More Songs: Henry Cow and British Experimental Music, 1968-1980
Benjamin Piekut, University of Southampton

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-58584-11

Another Version of Ourselves: The Enigmas of Improvised Subjectivity (Article)
Title: Another Version of Ourselves: The Enigmas of Improvised Subjectivity
Author: Piekut, Benjamin
Abstract: This short text takes up some questions having to do with acts of self-definition, collective authorship, and expression, and how they are rehearsed, examined, and denied—in short, put into motion—by means of musical performance. To improvise is to work with known materials and techniques, moving them in the direction of uncertainty. When you improvise with others, you bring your skills and your musical personality to the encounter. You use them to participate in an exchange, and that exchange issues something new, something that could not be foreseen—and that is open improvisation, at least according to one widespread and common-sense understanding of the practice. But I will explore another variant, one that embarks on its journey toward uncertainty by pulling apart personality and rendering it into a site of ongoing investigation. Both of these understandings of improvisation convert certainty into uncertainty, one by stretching or risking the self in a situation of surprise, and the other by disas- sembling or nullifying the self in order to get free of it. I want to think about these fascinating problems in relation to George E. Lewis’s influential pair of descriptive tools, the Afrological and the Eurological. This schema of postwar spontaneity remains useful and productive, I will suggest, when it is reanimated in analytical scenarios that might disrupt the work of disentanglement that it is often called upon to perform. My thinking on the subject of non-self-expressive improvisation has been informed substantially by research on the rock band Henry Cow, whose improvisational practice and interpretations of it will form the main contribution of this text.
Year: 2018
Primary URL: http://liminalities.net/14-1/enigmas.pdf
Primary URL Description: Link to PDF of the article.
Access Model: open access, peer reviewed
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies
Publisher: Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies

Pigeons (Article)
Title: Pigeons
Author: Piekut, Benjamin
Abstract: The author shares his experience researching an elusive piece of music, reflecting on the possible causes of quirk historicism and the possible consequences of the postcritical turn.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: http://rep.ucpress.edu/content/132/1/112
Primary URL Description: Representations journal website
Secondary URL: https://people.as.cornell.edu/sites/people/files/Piekut%20Pigeons.pdf
Secondary URL Description: Faculty website
Access Model: Subscription, peer reviewed
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Representations
Publisher: Representations

Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-garde: Experimental Music in London, 1965–75 (Article)
Title: Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-garde: Experimental Music in London, 1965–75
Author: Piekut, Benjamin
Abstract: John Cage’s brand of experimentalism underwent a transformation when it was imported into the UK in the 1960s. There, in contradiction to the American’s well-known preferences, indeterminacy became twisted up with jazz-derived free improvisation, owing to discourse that stressed performer freedom and creativity while downplaying notions of non- intention and discipline. The authors of these commentaries created the discursive conditions for a mingling of avant-garde traditions, but the material conditions owed more to the efforts of Victor Schonfield, whose nonprofit organization, Music Now, acquired Arts Council subsidies on behalf of a stylistically heterogeneous avant-garde that included artists working with both improvisation and indeterminacy. Schonfield also invited important guests from overseas, including Ornette Coleman, Musica Elettronica Viva, the Sonic Arts Union, the Instant Composers Pool, Christian Wolff, Sun Ra, the Taj Mahal Travellers, and, in 1972, John Cage himself. In the greater ecology of experimentalism that Schonfield created, improvisation became a kind of contact zone where musicians came together from a number of directions, among them free jazz, score-based indeterminacy, text-based intuitive music, Fluxus-inspired instruction pieces, and even psychedelic rock freak-outs. Music Now produced over 80 concerts between 1968 and 1976, when the organization folded.
Year: 2014
Primary URL: http://jams.ucpress.edu/content/67/3/769.article-info
Primary URL Description: UC Press website
Secondary URL: https://people.as.cornell.edu/sites/people/files/Piekut%20Indeterminacy%20Free%20Improv.pdf
Secondary URL Description: Faculty website
Access Model: Subscription, peer-reviewed
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of the American Musicological Society
Publisher: Journal of the American Musicological Society (Univ of Calif. Press)

The Multiple Politics of Henry Cow: Chris Cutler in interview with Benjamin Piekut (Book Section)
Title: The Multiple Politics of Henry Cow: Chris Cutler in interview with Benjamin Piekut
Author: Cutler, Chris
Author: Piekut, Benjamin
Editor: Adlington, Robert
Abstract: Interview between musicologist Benjamin Piekut and former Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler.
Year: 2013
Primary URL: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/red-strains-9780197265390?cc=us&lang=en&
Primary URL Description: Oxford website
Secondary URL: https://people.as.cornell.edu/sites/people/files/Piekut%20Cutler%20Interview.pdf
Secondary URL Description: Faculty website
Access Model: book
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book Title: Red Strains: Music and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc
ISBN: 9780197265390


Permalink: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/products.aspx?gn=FT-58584-11