By Kyle Gann

“This publication explores the lifestyles and works of Robert Ashley, one of many top American composers of the post-Cage new release. Ashley’s concepts started within the Sixties while he, besides Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman, shaped the Sonic Arts Union, a bunch that became conceptualism towards electronics. He was once additionally instrumental within the influential as soon as crew, a theatrical ensemble that toured greatly within the Sixties. in the course of his tenure as its director, the as soon as competition in Ann Arbor awarded many of the decade’s pioneers of the appearing arts. fairly recognized for his improvement of tv operas starting with excellent Lives, Ashley spun a protracted sequence of comparable text/music works, occasionally termed “performance novels.” those huge items were in comparison with Wagner’s Ring Cycle for the vastness in their imaginative and prescient, even though the fabrics are different, frequently incorporating noise backgrounds, vernacular song, and hugely dependent, even serialized, musical configurations.

Drawing on vast study into Ashley’s early years in Ann Arbor and interviews with Ashley and his collaborators, Kyle Gann chronicles the lifestyles and paintings of this musical innovator and offers an summary of the avant-garde milieu of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies to which he was once so critical. Gann examines all 9 of Ashley’s significant operas thus far intimately, besides many minor works, revealing the fanatical buildings that underlie Ashley’s song in addition to inner most references hidden in his opera librettos.”

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Again, on came taped sound—different, this time, and seemingly related to the titter. More silence. Someone, angry, stood up to stomp out of the hall. A burst of angry tape music! And so on, the audience actually cuing the music by its own actions and reactions. ” he cried. ” someone asked, but the question was swallowed up in a double salvo of taped sounds. The work ended when the stopwatch reached a certain point. ”18 Thirteen years later Ashley would write that the piece “is about that divided consciousness I feel at concerts.

David and Gordon were in the other room doing something, and we brought ’em in and said, how about this for an idea? ” The four toured together for eleven years. They never actually performed together; each person would play his own music, and the others were available to turn knobs, adjust the electronics, and help with logistics. Aside from playing at American schools all over the East and West Coasts, they toured cities in Europe from Stockholm to Zagreb in April and May 1969 and had another European tour two years later, plus a 1974 performance at Festival d’Automne in Paris, where Ashley would first work with Joan La Barbara.

22 Ashley credits her with exercising considerable influence over him. One summer she ran into him as he was delivering ice. When school resumed, she told him that delivering ice was an unacceptable job for a musician. ” She said, “You can’t deliver ice and be a musician. ” For the remaining summers of his undergrad years, Ashley delivered mail, relieving local postmen when they went on vacation; doubtless his father’s connections proved helpful. Assistant Professor Fishburne, M. , was listed in the school catalogue only from 1949 to 1956, and from there vanished from history.

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