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Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice Paperback – February 13, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aficionados of experimental music of the late 20th century will revel in Gann's excellent collection of Village Voice columns from the late 1980s and 1990s on New York City's vibrant downtown venues. Getting his start in writing criticism for several Chicago newspapers in the early '80s, Gann was hired as music critic for the Voice in 1986, churning out weekly dispatches on the city's cutting-edge music, composers and concerts, of which about 100 samples out of over 500 are included here. As provocative as Lester Bangs's rock writing and as uncompromising as Nat Hentoff's jazz and blues work, Gann's writing is strong and powerful as it covers such diverse subjects as sampling, popular tastes, multiculturalism, renegade operas, the demise of 12-tone music, commercial minimalism and serialism. Whether writing on the political correctness of art or the sometimes elitist aesthetics of performance music, Gann does not mince words (or bite his tongue). Although he regrets that some of his longer pieces are not included, he does himself proud with his probing chats with such pioneers as Robert Ashley, Glenn Blanca, Philip Glass, Leroy Jenkins, Fred Ho and Yoko Ono. Gann's astute collection deserves to be savored. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"This is an indispensable piece of living history, documenting an absolutely crucial moment in the development of 21st century music. For many of these pieces and composers, Gann's discussion is the only record we have. The criticism is at the highest level: careful yet uncompromising, historically informed, erudite, and well-expressed."—Robert Fink, University of California, Los Angeles

"A highly intelligent and vividly engaged depiction of the new music scene over the last several years. The music Gann discusses is some of the most important being produced today, as well as the least attended to by scholars and the media. The 'you are there' feel of these articles conveys the intellectual and artistic rigor behind the music, as well as the passion and commitment of its makers. The writing is polemical, emotional, advocatory; Gann is often provocative, and always honest and forceful."—Evan Ziporyn , Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clarinetist and Composer, Bang On A Can All-stars

"The late 1980s and the 1990s were probably the most contentious years in the history of American music, especially in New York. The Soho News had folded. The New York Times had opted out. During this time, Kyle Gann was consistently the most interesting, reliable and honest reviewer in all of New York. Everybody read him. Probably every composer mentioned in this book would want to "correct" what has been said about her or his music. But you can't argue with Kyle. His opinions are too deeply felt. He is too well-studied. He writes too well. And he is too smart."—Robert Ashley, Composer

"No one else could have written this marvelous book. No one else has been so completely immersed in "new music" as has Gann for some twenty years—and moreover likes it. No other music critic is so courageous, communicative, compelling, and candid (if now and then contentious)—or writes such consummately crystalline, convincing prose. Hurrah! Huzzah!!"—H. Wiley Hitchcock, Distinguished Professor of Music emeritus, CUNY, and founding director, Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520229827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520229822
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Mark D. Mantel on July 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I come to this book with a bias, both knowing Kyle form my time in NYC, reading him regularly, and being an American composer, but it is a bias that proves useful. This book captures the essence of what making, for lack of a better term, modern music is about NOW and what composers, performers, and whole very exciting and blurry lines between them are; as well as defining who and what our audience is and could be. It is an essential guide for any young composer today
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By Sandra L. Tabachnick on January 16, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a musician, I find this book very informative about trends in the classical music world of the 1980s and '90s in New York. It's a compilation of articles that the author, Kyle Gann, wrote for the Village Voice and it's language and ideas are quite different from what you might find in, let's say, the New York Times. The book is about the downtown classical music scene that was performed in lofts and other unusual places. It tells of composers that you wouldn't see at the time in uptown glitzy concert halls, like Yoko Ono, Steve Reich and Morton Feldman. It's gritty and honest, no sugar coating. Besides being informative, the book has other bonuses. Since Gann is also a composer, he is able to write about complex music trends with authority, clarity and humor.
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