Modernism and Music in Canada and The United States

Authored by: David Cecchetto , Jeremy Strachan

The Modernist World

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415845038
eBook ISBN: 9781315778334
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696162

10.4324/9781315778334.ch59

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Abstract

Musical modernism in Canada and the United States is most notable for the ways it restages musical practice as a means of engaging the question: of what does music actually consist? To pursue this question, we discuss the Canadian and American postserialisms of which the indeterminacy pioneered by John Cage is emblematic, but which also include graphic scoring, minimalism, happenings, and other practices that substitute an emphasis on process for European serialism’s engagement with the biases built into conventional notation. From there, we discuss jazz and improvisation, where we suggest that ‘music’ is taken to reside primarily in its practice such that compositional creativity is inseparable from the ability to perform. Finally, we consider technical innovations in the study of sound as a physical phenomenon, showing how electronic innovations are enabled by acoustic experiments with alternate tunings and just intonations that predate them. Taken together, these three lines of thought by no means exhaust what musical modernism is in Canada and the United States, but they point towards contributions to modernism in general that are emphasized by practitioners in both countries.

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