Pritchett on Cage

James Pritchett has been adding to his blog series on Cage, now in six episodes: . This is a very useful addition to the thinking about John Cage’s work and ideas. Too often recent scholarship has stepped back from Cage’s spirituality as motivation for his work, preferring instead to focus on the nuts-and-bolts of his compositional technique. Pritchett, an expert in the philosophy and musical elements in Cage’s work, brings rich detail to his exploration. Very highly recommended.

New series of blogs on Cage

Cage fanciers will be thrilled with this new series on James Pritchett’s blog. Pritchett is one of the great writers on Cage: author of The Music of John Cage, and of the Grove Dictionary entry on him. Pritchett has written a lot on Feldman and others on this blog. Well worth checking out. See

Pictures of the Scratch Orchestra

Being the Experimental Music Catalogue, one of our favourite topics is that of the Scratch Orchestra, an experimental ensemble founded by Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons, and Howard Skempton. After all, the founder of the EMC, Chris Hobbs, was the designer of their first concert, at Hampstead Town Hall, in November 1969. Over recent years, more pictures of the Scratch Orchestra have emerged, showing them realising Improvisation Rites, Scratch Compositions, and Scratch Music of all sorts. But Frank Abbott, a member of the SO in 1972, has just uploaded a set of pictures of the Scratch Orchestra at play.

Here they are on a trip to the Munich Olympics, having fun in and around a swimming pool.

Frank Abbott was asking for confirmation of names and the exact trip. These are the names, as best we can find out (thanks to Dave Smith for identification. There are tales to tell about this trip and the people in it, but first we’d like to pin down these people, so if you know them, do let us, or Frank, know.

UPDATE: Bryn Harris has kindly added to our knowledge on these pictures: ‘Just to advise that the location was the swimming pool adjacent to our camp site at Solbad Hall, Tirol, to which we moved straight after Munich in summer 1972’. It certainly looks like you all were having fun, Bryn!

Picture 1: + Walter Cardew?

Picture 2: +Horace Cardew?

Picture 3: Tim Mitchell’s child?

Picture 4: same?

Picture 5: Tim Mitchell’s wife or a friend of John Tilbury

Picture 6: John Tilbury

Picture 7: Barbara Pearce

Picture 8: Chris May

Picture 9: John Bangs

Picture 10: Kevin Richards

Picture 11: Stella Cardew

Picture 12: Pete O’Sullivan

Picture 13: Catherine Williams

Picture 14: Cornelius Cardew

Picture 15: John Bangs

Picture 16: Unknown

Picture 17: Bryn Harris

Picture 18: Carole Finer

Picture 19: Dave Smith

Picture 20: Jenny Robbins

Picture 21: Dave Russell

Picture 22: Ian Ward

Picture 23: Wahid?

Picture 24: Hugh Shrapnel

Picture 25: Lisa Major

Picture 26: Penny Jordan

Picture 29: Alec Hill

On debate

In his useful PostClassic blog, Kyle Gann has taken up the question of whether today’s composers debate, or if they are too cool to do so. In the course of his blog entry, he talks about the fights of the 1980s between Uptown and Downtown, serial and minimal. It’s here:


Hobbs and Budd on the wireless

It’s amazing what one comes across when idly surfing the web. For one thing, although we know Music from Other Minds Friday radio show on KALW and love what Richard Friedman and Charles Amirkhanian does with it, we have missed a lot of these programmes. Luckily, these days we can get to them any time, such as this show, 308: Mostly Rare, from 11 May 2012: , which features (along with a bit of Delius, Hauer and Stephen Montague), two excerpts from Marty Walker’s old Advance album. There’s Hal Budd’s In Delius’ Sleep (1974), played by Walker (Bb clarinet) and Barney Childs (piano and percussion) and Chris Hobbs’ Recitative (1979), played by Walker (bass clarinet), Childs (celesta), Virginia Anderson (percussion), and Hobbs (vibraphone). If you haven’t heard these two pieces from the 1970s, it’s worth a listen.

Cardew Treatise article

Virginia Anderson’s 2006 article, ‘”Well, It’s a Vertebrate”: Performer Choice in Cardew’s Treatise‘ is viewable on her page on

It’s in draft form and lacks examples from Cardew’s Treatise and other pieces due to copyright issues. But you can see it (and a number of Virginia’s other articles) on these pages, and decide to read these articles in their original settings (this article, for instance, is in the Journal of Musicological Research).