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Christian Wolff$
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Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037061

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037061.001.0001

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Let Playing Be Composition and Composition Playing: 1969–1974

Let Playing Be Composition and Composition Playing: 1969–1974

(p.45) 4 Let Playing Be Composition and Composition Playing: 1969–1974
Christian Wolff

Michael Hicks

Christian Asplund

University of Illinois Press

This chapter marks another threshold in Wolff's musical career: Burdocks. Drawing performative techniques from the improvisatory Scratch Orchestra and heterophonic textures inspired by an African field recording, Burdocks was Wolff's first work intended for a large ensemble. It was his first multimovement work in which each movement had distinctly different instructions on how and what to play. And it was his longest in actual (not just conceptual) performance. In addition, Wolff also had to contend with competing political ideologies between his two mentors, John Cage and Cornelius Cardew, the founder of the Scratch Orchestra. Yet the chapter argues that Wolff's musical “transitional point” came not so much in Burdocks or political intent, but in a new approach to melody that began with a series of piano pieces he wrote in 1969–1970.

Keywords:   Burdocks, Scratch Orchestra, John Cage, Cornelius Cardrew, political ideologies, political music

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