Thursday, July 10, 2008

All on Tape

The Standing Room (here) smartly combines a meme with a nice report on the publication party for the book The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, edited by David W. Bernstein. (There are links to additional photos of the event to which a number of Tape Music Center founders participated. Once young radicals, now senior radicals, these folks -- in the generation of my own teachers -- seem to be doing so well, and seem to be having so much fun, that I'm definitely starting to look forward to my own codger-years).

La Monte Young, another radical musician with Bay Area roots, likes to say that "if you can remember the '60s, you weren't really there." While some memories are definitely fading, the bits and pieces that do emerge are fascinating, and much of the music -- on tape, after all -- has survived, and both memories and the audible evidence continue to challenge and inspire. The Tape Music Center -- like its near-contemporary, the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in Ann Arbor and, to some extent, the earlier Project for Magnetic Tape in New York -- was a cooperative effort among experimental musicians and artists in other media, and both an aesthetic and practical alternative to existing professional institutions. The Tape Music Center (which eventually morphed into the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College -- which, with a benevolent academic host, remains a leading experimental studio) was one of the central axis points for the radical music tradition in the west, and both the music made their and the working aesthetic continues to influence and -- in the best sense of the word -- agitate. (In addition to Mills, the studios at UCLA and UCSD have direct roots in San Francisco, albeit roots from which they have traveled rather far and ignore, perhaps, at their aesthetic peril!) In my small library of electronic music wonders, two pieces from the Tape Music Center, Ramon Sender's Desert Ambulance and Pauline Olivero's Bye Bye Butterfly are keepers, works that reward listening again'n'again.

Read more about the Radical Music here.

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