Sunday, May 15, 2011


Alvin Lucier is retiring from from Wesleyan this spring after 41 years of teaching. There will be a big tribute conference this Fall, and at some point I want to write more, but the composer Nicolas Collins has uploaded a particularly interesting and moving homage: the notes he took when enrolled in Lucier's course "Introduction to Electronic Music" as a freshman in 1972.

Check them out.

I took essentially the same course from Lucier, twenty-seven years later, also a first year student who in the proper liberal arts fashion was casting his net widely for interesting things to study. (We also apparently lived in the same dorm, according to the cover of the notebook.) I've never been good at taking notes, so I'm loving being able to revisit this material. It's a tremendous document, giving an authoritative history of the American post-war avant-garde from an insider's perspective, and with a wealth of detailed insight. It's all the more astounding when you remember that this class was in 1972, well before there was an established narrative of this music--Nyman's book, which he assigned us in 1998, wouldn't be published for another two years, for example. For those of us interested in the historiography of experimental music, it's a must-read.

[via @soundblog via @wayneandwax ]