tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Breaking the Sound Barrier - A Critical Anthology of the New Music

Breaking the Sound Barrier - A Critical Anthology of the New ... by Gregory Battcock
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Feb 06, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: music

Gregory Battcock was a primary NYC art world critic (if only in terms of being widely published) - somewhat in the same league as Lucy Lippard. I think I read one other bk by him: "Minimal Art". I only have a vague memory of reading that & the vague memory includes thinking that it was somewhat intellectually superficial. Of course, such a review as this is even more intellectually superficial so such a comment on my part shd be taken w/ a grain of salt.

I did write notes in "Breaking the Sound Barrier" & they're none-too-flattering: In the front I wrote: "This book is full of 'music' & 'shoulds' - E.G. "Music should be logical" - the very "nihilism" that many of these people argue against in their desperate attachment to their concept of "music" serves as a good reminder of "why" I do what I do-do.." On the top of the contents page I wrote: "All in all an interesting book if only because it demonstrates so amply how bogged down in "intellectual" garbage most of these people are.."

Looking thru the contents now, I wonder if Battcock even had much of an interest in the subject or whether he was just making a living by cranking out another art-world pot-boiler. Probably the latter. There are a few interesting people in there who might ordinarily be NOT included in such an anthology: Dick Higgins, eg. On the other hand, there are at least 2 composers (whose names I won't drop) who I personally feel are 2 of the most dismal academic hacks I've ever run across AND I LIKE ACADEMIC CLASSICAL MUSIC.

There's an article by Cornelius Cardew. Cardew wrote a bk called "Stockhausen Serves Inperialism" that I forever regret not having picked up a copy of when I had the chance. Cardew was the main founder of the "Scratch Orchestra" - one of the most interesting collaborative projects that I know of. As such, I always have an interest in what he has to say. However, politically he was a Maoist - a variety of authoritarianism that I find just as objectionable as all the rest of them. Anyway, I wrote a note next to Cardew's listing in the Table of Contents: "Oi Veh! Do I disagree! But it's still a good article anyway!"
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