Experimental improvisation practise and notation 1945-1999. An annotated bibliography (2002f). Pdf edition. 2019.

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Please see also addenda: Experimental improvisation practise and notation. Addenda 2002-: Pdf edition.

(Deutsches Resumée - siehe bitte unten)

(Resumé en Francais, voire ci-dessous svp.)

This is an attempt to make a broad and comprehensive mapping of existing material, the vast majority being in printed form, concerning experimental improvisation practise. Bibliographical research has taken place over time, and the methods employed and steps taken are accounted for in each category. It deals with both editions and quotings of open compositions and with writings related to these - and with writings related to free improvisation. The bibliography comprises more than 670 entries most of which are annotated, a number of these annotations being summaries of their content. Before the "appendix section" containing the bibliographical information, there is a "text section" providing general comments to all the categories and their subdivisions.

Under the heading of "Variable works and aural scores. Editions or published?", lists of published Danish works, of aural scores, of anthologies and a list of relevant composers (both Danish and international) can be found. This composer's list was devised as a strategic means to act as comprehensively as possible and at the same time avoiding the arbitrariness of being able to list only a fraction of the huge body of material involved. The mapping of materials of these kinds is further pursued in setting up lists of material not independently published but quoted elsewhere - both in extenso and in part and one of unpublished material exemplifying some nevertheless essential and partly influential works by Danish composers. - These lists are at the basis for a discussion of publisher's policies in these matters and the role of unpublished material.

The heading of "Writings" has the largest number of entries. The category of "notation" reveal the existence of several approaches: there are both writings related to music history and to description of works, as well as catalogues of notational symbols. This is supposed to reflect a conflict between traditional and experimental compositional practise, those retaining references to entire works and history representing the innovative endeavours. - The category of educational material with its subdivisions refers to target groups of all kinds and ages.

A central category within "Writings", "writings on improvised music", has more than 265 entries. Both in articles and books, a number of writings attempt to survey various parts of the field aiming at a general perspective. Periodicals especially devoted to free improvisation are valuable ressources, in addition to the more general ones that deal with this subject only more occasionally. Separate from the more general sub-category mentioned above, there is another one going more into details with "Documentation, reports and discussion concerning specific improvisors, groups, works, events, tendencies".

Turning to open composition, sections follow dealing with selected composers of importance to this: Stockhausen, Zorn, Brown and Wolff. The Brown section narrows down its scope to one selected, graphically notated work with a verbal introduction, December 52 and its performance history.

Turning back to free improvisation, some topics could be grouped into their own sub-categories. "General philosophy, aesthetics, music theory and music analysis" documents variety and a large number of writings. A sub-category dealing with psychology of this specific music form is also presented, and the "Writings on improvised music" category ends with "Miscellaneous writings", which often deal with mixed topics, which can include both those mentioned above and others.

Remaining categories include one describing "General accounts of music history, dealing thoroughly with themes concerning new notation forms and/or improvisation", bibliography, a list of "Exhibitions of new notations and their catalogues", and, on a non-comprehensive basis, the neighbouring area of music therapy and selected recordings. There is finally a shortlist of selected, recommended literature.



Die Bibliographie enthält mehr als 675 Posten, darunter viele annotierte, oft mit Resumées der Inhalte. Sie ist in englischer Sprache verfasst, viele deutschsprachige Publikationen sind jedoch repräsentiert. Themkreis ist experimentelle Improvisations- und Notationspraxis 1945-99, wie sie sich sowohl in freier Improvisation als in offenen Werken manifestiert.

Stichwörter: experimentelle Musik, offenes Werk, grafische Notation, graphische Notation, musikalische Notation, musikalische Aufführungspraxis, freie Improvisation, Musikpädagogik, Geschichte der Musik, Musikästhetik, Musikanalyse, Musikphilosophie.



La bibliographie contient plus de 675 postes, entre eux beaucoup qui sont annotées, souvent avec un resumé des contenus. Elle est écrit en Anglais, elle comprit cependant aussi quelques publications francais. La thématique se define autour les pratiques expérimentales de l'improvisation et notation expérimentale 1945-99, improvisation libre comme aussi les oevres musicales ouvertes.

Mots typiques: musique expérimentale, l'oevre ouverte, notation musicale, notation expérimentale de la musique, notation graphique de la musique, pédagogie de la musique, pratique de l'execution musicale, improvisation libre, histoire de la musique, esthétique de la musique, analyse de la musique, philosophie de la musique.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherIntuitive Music Homepage
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • bibliography
  • free improvisation
  • notation (music)
  • graphic notation (music)
  • experimental music
  • open work
  • music history
  • music aesthetics
  • philosophy of music
  • game pieces


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