Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music

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For the last twenty years The Wire has fearlessly bypassed fashion in it's search to expose the most innovative, radical, and compelling music from every genre all across the world. As listeners have grown increasingly eclectic and adventurous in their tastes, The Wire has emerged as the most authoritative source on modern music.

In Undercurrents some of the best music writers of our time uncover the hidden wiring of the past century's most influential music. Ian Penman discusses how the microphone transformed the human voice and made phantom presences of great singers such as Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, and Brian Wilson. Christoph Cox demonstrates how the pioneers of live electronic music, the West Coast ensemble Sonic Arts Union, redefined virtuosity for the electronic age. Philip Smith and Peter Shapiro examine Harry Smith's Smithsonian Anthology of American Folk Music, which led to a massive reappraisal of musical values that went far beyond the folk music revival.

Music explored in Undercurrents ranges through avant rock, jazz, hiphop, electronica, global music, and contemporary "classical."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826464507
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 12/15/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The Wire is a collectively-owned magazine based in London. Publisher Tony Herrington says, "We don't sees ourselves as outside commentators but very much as part of a community of musicians and listeners."

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 1
Introduction: The Hidden Wiring 3
Recording Angels: The Esoteric Origins of the Phonograph 15
On the Mic: How Amplification Changed the Voice for Good 25
The Jerrybuilt Future: The Sonic Arts Union, Once Group and Mev's Live Electronics 35
Worship the Glitch: Digital Music, Electronic Disturbance 45
The Eternal Drone: Good Vibrations, Ancient to Future 59
Slapping Pythagoras: The Battle for the Music of the Spheres 71
The Ragged Trousered Anthologist: The Secret Worlds of Harry Smith 81
The Solar Myth Approach: The Live Space Ritual: Sun Ra, Stockhausen, P-Funk, Hawkwind 99
Humans, are they Really Necessary?: Sound Art, Automata and Musical Sculpture 117
Automating the Beat: The Robotics of Rhythm 131
The Autobahn Goes on Forever: Kings of the Road: The Motorik Pulse of Kraftwerk and Neu! 141
Rock Concrete: Counterculture Plugs in to the Academy 153
Deck Wreckers: The Turntable as Instrument 163
Destroy All Music: The Futurists' Art of Noises 181
The Limits of Language: Textual Apocalypse: Merz, Lettrism, Sound Poetry 193
The Music of Chance: Musical Dice Men from John Cage to John Zorn 209
Smiling Faces Sometimes: Soul Music's Grinners Versus the Backstabbers 223
Frames of Freedom: Improvisation, Otherness and the Limits of Spontaneity 233
Generation Ecstasy: New York's Free Jazz Continuum 249
Bibliography/Discography 265
Contributors 273
Index 275
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