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Experimentalism Otherwise

The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits (California Studies in 20th-Century Music #11)

Benjamin Piekut


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (4/4/2011)


In Experimental Otherwise, Benjamin Piekut takes the reader into the heart of what we mean by “experimental” in avant-garde music. Focusing on one place and time—New York City, 1964—Piekut examines five disparate events: the New York Philharmonic’s disastrous performance of John Cage’s Atlas Eclipticalis; Henry Flynt’s demonstrations against the downtown avant-garde; Charlotte Moorman’s Avant Garde Festival; the founding of the Jazz Composers Guild; and the emergence of Iggy Pop. Drawing together a colorful array of personalities, Piekut argues that each of these examples points to a failure and marks a limit or boundary of canonical experimentalism. What emerges from these marginal moments is an accurate picture of the avant-garde, not as a style or genre, but as a network defined by disagreements, struggles, and exclusions.

Praise For Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits (California Studies in 20th-Century Music #11)

“Richly deserving superlatives, [Experimentalism Otherwise] is a memorable, exciting, rigorous, and beautifully written book of considerable importance.”
— Edward Crooks, University of York

“This is an important book, and should be part of every academic music library.”
— Clemens Greeser

“Objective, insightful prose”
— All About Jazz

“An original and important book. . . . Impressive in its scope. . . . A concise and focused account.”
— Thomas Fogg

“Experimental Otherwise crafts a surprisingly strong narrative.”
— Dave Cantor

University of California Press, 9780520268517, 296pp.

Publication Date: April 4, 2011

About the Author

Benjamin Piekut is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Cornell University.