Downtown Music I: Bibliography and Resources


Laurie Anderson
Robert Ashley
David Behrman
Glenn Branca
Anthony Braxton
Joel Chadabe
Rhys Chatham
Philip Corner
Julius Eastman
Henry Flynt
Jon Gibson
Philip Glass
Daniel Goode
Peter Gordon
Tom Johnson
Guy Klucevsek
George Lewis
Garrett List
Annea Lockwood
Alvin Lucier
Meredith Monk
Charlie Morrow
Gordon Mumma
Phill Niblock
Pauline Oliveros
Charlemagne Palestine
Elaine Radigue
Steve Reich
Arthur Russell
Frederic Rzewski
Bob Telson
Blue Gene Tyranny
David Van Tieghem
La Monte Young


The Kitchen (673 Broadway; 59 Wooster St.)
Experimental Intermedia Foundation (224 Centre Street)
Roulette (228 West Broadway)
Alternative Museum (28 E. 4th St.; 17 White St.)
Washington Square Methodist Church (135 W. 4th St.)
Dia Art Foundation (141 Wooster Street, 6 Harrison Street, 155 Mercer Street)
WBAI Free Music Store (359 E. 62nd Street)
Brooklyn Academy of Music

Selected Bibliography

Duckworth, William. Talking Music: Conversations with John Cage, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, and Five Generations of American Experimental Composers. New York: Schirmer, 1995.
Interviews with John Cage, Conlon Nancarrow, Milton Babbitt, Lou Harrison, Ben Johnston, Pauline Oliveros, Christian Wolff, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Glenn Branca, and John Zorn.

Gann, Kyle. Music Downtown: Writings from The Village Voice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
Gann's writings are especially interesting for his discussions of the aesthetics of downtown music.

Johnson, Tom. The Voice of New Music. Eindhoven: Apollohuis, 1991.
Johnson was the Village Voice's pioneering new music critic during the 'seventies, the years the downtown scene was being defined. This copious collection of articles is musical history as it happened.
Free downloadable PDF available at

Potter, Keith. Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
An in-depth study of the music of the four pillars of American minimalism.

Rockwell, John. All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century . New York: Da Capo Press, 1997 [1983].
New York Times music critic Rockwell profiles 20 American musical artists who represented (in the critic's 1983 world view, at least) the various strains of "new" American music. Rockwell devotes chapters to a number of artists central to downtown music: Frederic Rzewski, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, David Behrman, and Talking Heads. Chapters on Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter provide background on the American composition establishment that downtown composers reacted against, and the one on Cage discusses one of the downtown composers' most important influences.

Selected Discography

Various Artists. New Music New York 1979: From the Kitchen Archives. Orange Mountain Music, 2004.
Outside of this anthology, downtown new music is best represented by recordings of works by individual composers.

Web Resources

Kyle Gann's Downtown Music Encyclopedia Article
This is the text of Gann's original article, before Wikipedia emendations.

American Mavericks
This website was created as a supplement to a 13-part public radio series on the maverick tradition in American Music. The site contains a wealth of information in both text and audio formats. The original one-hour programs are available as streaming audio. Of special relevance to downtown music are the following programs:
Show 7 - "If Jackson Pollock Wrote Music." Covers the New York school - Cage, Feldman, Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff (important precursors).
Show 8 - "To Repeat or Not to Repeat, That Is the Question" (minimalism vs. serialism).
Show 9 - "The Do-it-Yourself Composer" (self-sufficiency as a career strategy).
Show 13 - "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" (rock music as an influence).
Interviews with Glenn Branca, Alison Knowles, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Robert Ashley, Joel Chadabe, Jackson MacLow, Phill Niblock, Philip Glass, Terry Riley can be found at the following page:

New Music Box
The web magazine of the American Music Center features interviews with and articles about and by contemporary American composers. The New Music Jukebox offers audio files and scores of works by many downtown composers. There's also an excellent streaming radio station.

Living Composers Project
This site indexes links to the homepages of living composers, including most of the important downtown composers. Where no site is available, short biographies are given.

Texts About Fluxus
This site includes a number of articles by some of the movement's major artists, including Philip Corner, Dick Higgins and George Brecht.

Philip Corner Profile (originally published in The Wire)

Phill Niblock Interview

Rhys Chatham, "Composers Notebook"
The composer reflects on the '70s and '80s.

Charlemagne Palestine Interview

Robert Ashley Interview

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