a guide to the ruins: early
On Dissonant Counterpoint: In the early 1920s - a new, more systematic experimentalism was already coming to the fore. The key figure in its development and dissemination was Charles Louis Seeger.
Henery Cowell: At least two newspapers sent sports writers to review his concerts and the London Times' music critic called him the world's loudest pianist.
Cowell's idea, called simply New Music, eventually developed into an entire group of enterprises.
Demonstration of the Rhythmicon.
In the pit, under the direction of Henry Cowell, intellectual young men and young ladies beat drums, shook rattles, banged gongs, tinkled bottles, and ever and anon drew forth in long, loud complaint the wail of fire sirens. On the stage eight or ten women dancers in scanty fantastic costume visualized the orchestra's rhythmic racket in movement. Busy and imperturbable, they writhed on the floor, punched and pestered the empty air, fluttered and dashed about singly and in phalanx.
Cowell to San Quentin.
The work of Cage at this time has often been seen as aligned with that of a West Coast Group or Californian Percussion School alongside Cowell, Harrison, William Russell, the early investigator of microtonal scales Harry Partch, and later Alan Hovhaness. Early in 1941 Cage and Harrison together organized a concert at the California Club in San Francisco, and decided jointly to write a percussion piece, using Cage's rhythmic structure as the unifying feature.
The seven compositions recorded on this disc date from the pioneer Thirties and early Forties, when American music was making gigantic strides toward the honored place in the world arena which it occupies today. The percussion ensemble was new then, and its exploitation was a major challenge to composer and auditor alike.