Sound commitments: avant-garde music and the sixties

Adlington, R., ed. (2009) Sound commitments: avant-garde music and the sixties. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780195336658 (paperback) 9780199868551 (e-book)


During the 1960s many avant‐garde musicians were intensely involved in the era's social and political upheavals, and often sought to reflect this engagement in their music. This volume examines the encounter of avant‐garde music and ‘the sixties’, across a range of genres, aesthetic positions, and geographical locations. Rather than providing a comprehensive survey, the intention is to give an indication of the richness of avant‐garde musicians' response to the decade's defining cultural shifts. Many of these musicians were convinced that aesthetic experiment and social progressiveness made natural bedfellows. Yet this stance threw up some sharp dilemmas. For instance, how could institutional and governmental subsidy for recondite music continue to be justified in the context of demands for democratised decision‐making in cultural affairs? How was the cultural baggage of established performance institutions (such as concert halls, symphony orchestras, and broadcasting organizations) to be reconciled with a radical critique of bourgeois values? Most fundamentally, how could avant‐garde musicians make a meaningful contribution to social change if their music remained the preserve of a tiny, initiated clique? The contributors address music for the concert hall, tape and electronic music, jazz and improvisation, participatory ‘events’, performance art, and experimental popular music, and explore developments in the United States, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Japan, and parts of the so‐called ‘Third World’. Each chapter draws on new archival research and/or interviews with significant figures of the period.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item