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EARLE BROWN : composer

Earle Brown, a major force in contemporary music and a leading composer of the American avant-garde since the 1950s, died on July 2, 2002 at his home in Rye, New York. He was associated with the experimental composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Christian Wolff who, with Brown, came to be known as the New York School.

Earle Brown influence on the avant-garde community has been philosophical as well as tangible and practical. His conducting techniques and experiments with time notation, improvisation, and open-form compositional structure have become part of contemporary compositional usage. Among Brown most frequently performed and reinterpreted works is DECEMBER 1952, the score of which is a stark, abstract series of floating rectangles, a musical equivalent to a Calder mobile. His early influential orchestral scores include Available Forms 1 and Available Forms 2, and his musical friendships were legendary, from Bruno Maderna who conducted first performances of many of Brown works to jazz musicians such as Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan.

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December 1952 is perhaps Brown’s most famous score. It is part of a larger set of unusually notated music called FOLIO. Although this collection is also misconstrued as coming out of nowhere historically, music notation has existed in many forms—both as a mechanism for creation and analysis. Brown studied what is now called Early Music, which has its own system of notation, and was a student of the Schillinger Method, which almost exclusively used graph methods for describing music. From this perspective FOLIO was an inspired, yet logical connection to be made—especially for a Northeasterner who grew up playing and improvising jazz.

December 1952 consists purely of horizontal and vertical lines varying in width, spread out over the page; it is a landmark piece in the history of graphic notation of music. The role of the performer is to interpret the score visually and translate the graphical information to music. In Brown’s notes on the work he even suggests that one consider this 2D space as 3D and imagine moving through it. The other pieces in the collection are not as abstract. Since each is dated individually, one can see that Brown wrote the very abstract December 1952 and then moved back towards forms of notation that contain more specific musical information.

web: earl brown / wiki


score source : works / 4 systems


get an article The Notation and Performance of New Music by Earl Brown from 1964 > in .pdf format > form here <


inspirations : Alexander Calder / mobile sculptures


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