dear david goldberg

i’m in the very early stages, couple of days so far, at thinking about this. no doubt you’ll have much to contribute!

‘genre’ is such as devastating category, obviously, but has there been a term to designate the opposite? i mean, across wide spans of musics and sound traditions? that focuses specifically on the wide panoply of intersectional musics/sounds? that we are all aware of, but hasn’t been properly researched or given it’s due beyond subcategories within a broader context? it seems to me quite surprising how broad and inclusive they gave actually, historically, been. what i want to suggest goes beyond the various accepted categories of fusion or world, etc. both of those are important but subcategories of what i’m trying to articulate. i’m trying to articulate something that crosses wide swathes of what dick higgens in 1966 first articulated as ‘intermedia’. and maciunas diagrammed in his expanded arts graphic, also 1966. but both of those are only subsets of what i’m trying to get at. there are subsets as much as Woodstock was for R&R.

so, i’m roughing out the term, –hinge, to attempt to at least give a name to such. the problem, again obviously, is that SO much music actually fits that category, how does one refine it in a useful/compelling way?

to do that would obviously, once again, require several volumes, each with multiple subsections. nonetheless, i think this is a worthy endeavor, but the q is: how to pitch it polemically to a public that can only think in terms of commercial categories? is it possible to direct them to the deep roots and routes of the music they love?

but more than that, how to make an attempt to actually trace, historically, the surprising interconnectedness of ‘genres’ that at first listening, seem miles apart? but aren’t, and never were? to the extent that ‘rock&roll’ would be seen to be as something that never actually existed. nor did ‘jazz’, by the same logic. [and yeah, things get really dicey here…] so the historical moments when musics form seeming very different genres interconnected for the first time? and then, and this is important to me at least, then set off a wave of similar experiments.

so, let’s take, for one minor example, the influence of varese on cage, boulez, stockhousen, la monte young, john cale, terry riley, velvet underground, nico, zappa; and takehisa kosugi, john paul jones [of zed leppelin], sonic youth, radiohead and sigur ros…

that ‘discourse formation’ is still unacknowledged and remarkable.

there is a verifiable line of intersectional connectivity between all the above. this is just the lineage i’m focused on at the moment since i’m writing about merce cunningham. but i’ve been tracing other similar lineages between a wide number of musicians at, but without calling it –hinge. i have been referring to it in several posts as ‘musical consciousness beyond borders’.  but i think –hinge is a much more immediate and less abstruse term.

so what i’m suggesting is delineating musical discourse formations, in the foucauldina sense… but not in anyway beholdened to him. just as a lift-off concept as a point of departure for making a polemic/provocative argument against commercial genre boundaries.

so see my blog for very, very rough attempts to sort this out. i’m thinking of it as the latest version of power and poetics via sound. though in my posts, i try to cite live performances as much as recorded albums. so the AV aspect of P&P is alive and well. and damn youtube is so damn limited.

more radically, what i’m proposing with –hinge, is that there are no individual bands or even albums. just as there have never simply been ‘subjects’ of any kind. just as that no ‘director’ of any kind of production, film or otherwise, should be able to take full credit for anything; there are only collective performances that require for their production, a wide array of producers…

and there is a paradigm for this perspective that had a literally 50 year run in the 20th century: and many will think i’m absurd to claim this: but… the greatest marxist artists in the US, when viewed through their labor practices, and not only through through their inadequately understood ‘aesthetic’ practices, were john cage and merce cunningham, along with their 50 years of collaborators. what one hears, and sees, in both their performances, is ‘free labour’, in an achieved, collective, artistic utopia.

my very rough and no doubt inadequate definition of –hinge is: any music that qualifies as hinge, must in some way, ’significantly put into association’, and therefore hinge, at least two quite different musical ‘networks’.

and now that i’ve written this to you, i’d add: delineate a musical discourse formation, in the foucauldina sense, as aspires at least, to radical political labor in and as, art.



dear david goldberg

sound –hinge

sound –hinge: any music that qualifies as hinge, must in some way, ’significantly put into association’, and therefore hinge, at least two quite different musical ‘networks’. –hinge must delineate a musical discourse formation, in the foucaudian sense. such as that, that is verifiable in the following:

the influence of varese on cage, boulez, stockhousen, la monte young, john cale, terry riley, velvet undregrond, nico, zappa; and takehisa kosugi, john paul jones [of zed leppelin], sonic youth, radiohead and sigur ros…

not sure that is a an adequate definition, but it’s a start.

note: a great deal of the sound posted below in this notebook of reflections qualifies, but wasn’t then designated as –hinge.

The avant-garde sound introduced in the album— Marble Index —a stark contrast with her folk pop debut, Chelsea Girl—was the result of the combination of Nico’s droning harmonium and somber vocals, and producer John Cale’s musical arrangements, which were inspired by modern European classical music.

  1. “The Seth Man” (December 2001). “Nico – The Marble Index”. The Book of Seth. Unsung. Head Heritage Ltd. Retrieved August 8, 2015.

2. Dalton, David; Fields, Danny (June 24, 2002). “The Marble Index”. Gadfly Online. Retrieved August 11, 2015.

3. “The Marble Index”. Retrieved 13 May 2016.

Nibelungen: (in Germanic legend) any of a race of dwarfs who possess a treasure that confers unlimited power on its owner.

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic avant-rock band from Reykjavík, who have been active since 1994. Known for their ethereal sound, frontman Jónsi’s falsetto vocals, and the use of bowed guitar, the band’s music incorporates classical and minimal aesthetic elements. Featured below though, is the bands collaboration with Icelandic fisherman, poet, singer,  Steindór Andersen.

4. SBrown, Helen (28 June 2008). “The Gods play games with Sigur Rós”. The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2012-11-03.

5. “sigur rós – discography » steindór andersen / rímur ep”. Retrieved 2009-01-06.

6. “sigur rós – discography » heima”. Retrieved 2008-12-01.

7. Magazine, Daniel Durchholz Special to Go!. “Experimentation is still paying off for Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Ros”. Retrieved 2017-06-20.[8][9]


In 2001, Sigur Rós christened their newly completed studio by recording an EP called Rímur with an Icelandic fisherman named Steindór Andersen. The EP contains six songs, all of which feature Steindór Andersen reciting traditional Icelandic rímur poetry.

bad graphics? added by person who upload this? unknown. but it does feature the voice of Steindor Andersen, solo.


sound –hinge

against interpretation via genres: hinge–[music]: a proposal for a new category of music

(there is no listening to the most brilliant music of the 20th and possibly, of the 21st, without listening to its influences, which have very deep, experimental roots outside of the commercial category of the intellectually offensive categories of rock&roll, R&B, even ‘jazz’. not to mention, ‘classical’. etc. )

in fact, there are no ‘pure’ categories. all the musicians most of us love, blend all the known categories, so, isn’t incumbent upon us to listen to their influences and deep roots?

my position is that we must. otherwise, we sell short our beloved musicians.

so i propose a new category of music called: hinge.

musics that draw in influences that that ‘genres’ can’t possibly describe. that draw on seemingly unrelated musical territories. like that of john cale and terry riley. and there are so many more of this type of musical ‘fusions’ across widely separated musical domains, that in fact, better represent how music actually is composed and gets played.

‘rock & roll’, in fact, doesn’t exist as people like griel marcus think. so marcus and company make us unable to really listen to the complexity of the music we love. and that dishonors the intelligence of musicians, and, the listener, simultaneously.

john cale and terry riley

cale went on to join the velvet underground, and riley, onto his own variety of ‘minimalist’ inspired music that isn’t really, ‘minimalist’.

against interpretation via genres: hinge–[music]: a proposal for a new category of music

la monte young: hinge

la monte young, a composer/artist/poet groundbreaker across media and genres… was a student of schoenberg and stockhausen, as well of cage.. is considered the inventor of the genre of minimalism. terry riley was his student. some consider him the most influential musician/artist of the second half of the 20th century because he inspired so many different artistic fields that took hold in his wake.

be that as it may, here’s the first ever work of minimalism. young was into drone from an early age based in part on the sound of electrical transformers he heard as child in Idaho.

beginning in 1960, he befriended George Maciunas and became a central member of Fluxus. young edited the influential An Anthology of Chance Operations, designed by maciunas. yoko ono hosted a number of his performances in her studio. young was the inventor of ‘event compositions’ that would then influence ono’s series, grapefruit, and the entire field of performance art. young composed the score for cunninghams dance, winterbranch, “2 sounds” performed by young and terry riley, which is now considered one of cunningham’s masterpieces, and raised havoc through europe and the world, in part because of his composition.

Young’s, Compositions 1960, are a set of pieces written in 1960 . These pieces are unique in the sense that he heavily emphasizes performance art, through extra-musical actions.

#2 (“Build a fire”)


Build a fire in front of the audience. Preferably, use wood although other combustibles may be used as necessary for starting the fire or controlling the kind of smoke. The fire may be of any size, but it should not be the kind which is associated with another object, such as a candle or a cigarette lighter. The lights may be turned out.

After the fire is burning, the builder(s) may sit by and watch it for the duration of the composition; however, he (they) should not sit between the fire and the audience in order that its members will be able to see and enjoy the fire.

The performance may be of any duration.

In the event that the performance is broadcast, the microphone may be brought up close to the fire.

#10 (to Bob Morris)

Draw a straight line and follow it.

#15 (to Richard Huelsenbeck)


This piece is little whirlpools out in the middle of the ocean.

with his wife, Marian Zazeela, he founded the Theatre of Eternal Music collective that included a number of people, including john cale and terry riley . they would hold 6 hour and longer performances…

and therefore to terry riley via young/zazeela and pandit pran nath. the following is some rare, documentary footage of young, zazela, riley and nath getting ready to perform:

note in riley’s avowed comments below, his origin in the jazz of chet baker and continuing through pandit pran nath, though he should also have acknowledge young and zazeela who brought him to nath.

it’s cut off in the youtube image below, but below the subtitle, ‘the tamburas of pandit pran nath’, the album states: ‘an homage’.

la monte young: hinge

early Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pauline Oliveros: hinge

well, it’s only fair, despite his legendary self-diefication, to include him in comparison/collusion with the previous posts on avant-garde 20th century ‘classical’ music, isn’t it? there was something unfortunately, hubristic about his drive. unfortunately, i don’t have his collection of theoretical writings with me here in merida, otherwise, i’d quote from them. they are quite brilliant, and represent perhaps the 3rd or perhaps 4th of the coeval threads extant during the formative period of the 50s. cage vs boulez vs stockhausen vs, as the 4th thread, brown. for those who are wondering, minimalism came later.


however, pauline oliveros’s work, Sound Patterns, 1961, predated some of KS’s compositional techniques, winning her the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1962, and rightly so. oliveros often improvised with the Expanded Instrument System, an electronic signal processing system she designed, in her performances and recordings. she was asked to compose the music of one of cunningham’s central work, Canfield, 1969, the choreography of which was based on using for its chance operations a particular form of the card game of solitaire invented by one John Canfield. The premiere of Canfield took place in Tesla’s hometown in the then Yugoslavia, so oliveros entitled her composition: ‘In Memoriam Kikola Tesla, Cosmic Engineer’. [not available on youtube] Carolyn Brown, in her extraordinary 600 page account, Chance and Circumstances: twenty years with cage and cunningham,  describes oliveros’s work thusly:

[her score] consisted of three pages of instructions for the musicians. Tesla once – so the story goes – adjusted an oscillator to the resonance of his studio and nearly brought the building down. In Canfield, the musicians’ ultimate task was to discover the resonant frequency of the building in which the dance was performed but not to go so far as to bring the building down… They had a series of steps to follow, including describing – in an immediate and personal way, via walkie-talkies and the public-address system – the actual performance of space, comparing it to other spaces; recording the conversation and the environment as they explored the theater, including backstage, the basement, the lobby; and finally playing back the accumulated reportage, plus the accumulated sound material along with the oscillator-generated resonant-frequency sounds.

(p. 531)

[Brown later in her book describes the typical audience response to this musical work – it was typically mayhem…  but cage as music director, and in sync with cunningham, never gave in to audience responses and always remained faithful to oliveros’ work.]

so while the following works are not her In Memoriam, they fairly represent the type of work she was doing at that time.

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 11.52.57 PM

early Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pauline Oliveros: hinge

musica elettronica viva: late 60s, early 70s: hinge

by the time of Musica Elettronica Viva’s first performance in 1967, cage and tudor, boulez and stockhousen, and a bit later, mumma and oliveras and lemont young among others, had been been raising havoc with music/sound since the early 50s. it should be noted, however, that their music reached the widest audiences through their musical accompaniment through the dance performances of merce cunningham’s dance company; which drew audiences from a remarkable array of constituencies: those expecting ballet, those expecting modern dance, members of the avant-garde 20th century music crowd, a remarkable wide panoply of artists from what has come to be called the neo-avant-garde [post WWII]. so audiences tended to regularly clash attempting to outdo each other with boos [and often much worse expressions] and bravos, often creating scandals equally as riotous as Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring in 1913.

the Musica Elettronica Viva [MEV] consortium, consisting of several musican and shifting over the decades, included Alvin Curran, Richard Teitelbaum, Frederic Rzewski, Allan Bryant, Carol Plantamura, Ivan Vandor, Steve Lacy, and Jon Phetteplace.  They performed to riotous acclaim in 1967, 1969, and early 1970s, and intermittently ever since.

I include three of their early performance here; which, to our ears in 2018 will not be shocked. But it should be noted that an even earlier forebear was Edgar Varese, and his significant influence on Frank Zappa, also composing and performing in temporal parallel. All to say, the standard divisions and seemingly well delineated genres of rock&roll, avant-garde classical, jazz, experimental and electronic music, in retrospect, are far from being so clearly bounded. today’s well know categories such as noise, industrial, electronica and the like seem commercially tame, and tainted, in comparison to those forging uncompromising paths beyond and outside of traditional ‘musical’ expectations after Schoenberg.

and while there is no doubt that MEV was given ‘license’ to compose and perform as they did by Cage, they cannot be reduced to the ‘Cagean’ school of chance operations. they were equally influenced by, and this is not well known, Earle Brown’s invention of ‘indeterminancy’, otherwise known as ‘open form’, which Brown was the first to invent and develop over the course of his remarkable career; beginning with his Folio in 1952, as commented on in a post below. chance operations and indeterminancy should not, at all, be confused.


musica elettronica viva: late 60s, early 70s: hinge

musical consciousness across borders 3: and associated sculptural events by John Roloff: hinge

George Lewis has long been active in creating and performing with interactive computer systems, most notably his software called Voyager, which “listens to” and reacts to live performers. Vijay Iyer’s 1998 dissertation, Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound: Embodied Cognition in West African and African-American Musics, applied the dual frameworks of embodied cognition and situated cognition to music.

and to recall from previous posts:

the following is also by Vijay Iyer:

and to recall from previous posts: the sculptural work of John Roloff:


as john as written about this work:

In Metabolism and Mortality/O2, the oculus image has transformed into molecular status, outward vision is now subsumed by an inward looking devotion to geo-chemical/thermodynamic processes and history.

Sited along what was the of the drip line and furthest lateral extent of a large, now dead beech tree on the Tyler campus are the project’s two principal elements: the Furnace and the Greenhouse. These two instruments symbolically represent the beech tree’s past life and current death systems on a macro-molecular level and as an elemental protagonist in the larger narrative of the work. Furnace and Greenhouse were envisioned as ions of an oxygen molecule (O2) separated by the primal and arboreal forces of entropy and dissolution but are still united and activated by similar thermal processes: the Furnace by ignition of fossil fuels developed by the photosynthesis of sunlight in ancient forests and their subsequent geologic distillation, and the Greenhouse by the collection and entrainment of contemporary solar energy. The solar heat within the Greenhouse is measured differentially from the outside atmosphere by it’s internal thermometers (a span of as much as 50o F. between the inner and outer environments has been noted).


musical consciousness across borders 3: and associated sculptural events by John Roloff: hinge