Hobbs Word Pieces 1966–1970

This should be fun. Chris Hobbs, the composer and founder of the Experimental Music Catalogue, has put together a collection of all of his Word Pieces, and is offering them in pdf format through the EMC. And for free.

This collection represents most of Chris Hobbs’ compositions in the years 1966–1970, and all of the ones that he wrote in verbal text notation (also called text or instruction pieces). Most of these pieces were published with pieces by Hugh Shrapnel, Phil Gebbitt, Gavin Bryars, and Robert Ashley, in the popular EMC Verbal Anthology.  Other Word Pieces appeared in the Visual and Scratch Anthologies. But the EMC in those days published music in typescript. But Chris decided to set his entire output from those years in computer fonts.

Chris first wrote One Note 1966 in common musical notation, but its finished version is in text notation. It has the same sparseness as La Monte Young’s early minimalism in its limited pitch and plentiful rests. As such, One Note 1966 is the first ‘minimal’ or static minimalist piece in British music. Other pieces, such as Song 1 and Song 2 — in which the text is presented as graphic, or pictorial, notation — benefit from the greater degree of precision offered by the computer typescript. There are pieces here for instrumental ensembles, for electronics, even those that are more conceptual.

If you like the historical feature of a facsimile document of the original publication, we offer the Verbal Anthology in our EMC Catalogue List. We have been unable as of yet to gain permissions to reproduce the entirety of the Scratch Anthology of Compositions and the Visual Anthology, so this is the only place to get these pieces. One piece, Can you hear me mother?, was written for the small journal Crab Grass, and is published here. One, Now, Karl, play some of your own music, has never been published before.

Chris specifically asked that we offer these pieces in this format for free. What he wants is to have some dialogue about music, and to get these pieces out to those who want to play them. All you have to do is to send us an email to questions**experimentalmusic.co.uk (for the **, substitute @), and we will send you the pdf. I’d also suggest that if you enjoy these pieces, and especially if you decide to play one, get in touch with Chris—chobbs**experimentalmusic.co.uk —and let him know!

Author: Virginia

Virginia Anderson is a writer who messes with the EMC Blog. She specialises in the study of experimental, minimalist, and free improvisatory music. She also plays clarinet, and has recorded on Zanja, Advance, and Rastascan Recordings, specialising in new works for Eb clarinet and free improvisation.

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