The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde

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Press:University of California Press University of California Press; 1 Pap edition (July 8, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-7-8
Author Name:Bernstein, David W. 编


This book tells the story of the influential group of creative artists—Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, Ramon Sender, William Maginnis, and Tony Martin—who connected music to technology during a legendary era in California's cultural history. 
An integral part of the robust San Francisco “scene,” the San Francisco Tape Music Center developed new art forms through collaborations with Terry Riley, Steve Reich, David Tudor, Ken Dewey, Lee Breuer, the San Francisco Actor's Workshop, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the Ann Halprin Dancers' Workshop, Canyon Cinema, and others.
Told through vivid personal accounts, interviews, and retrospective essays by leading scholars and artists, this work, capturing the heady experimental milieu of the sixties, is the first comprehensive history of the San Francisco Tape Music Center.

From the Inside Flap

"Who knew, prior to this lovingly detailed account, that five musical discontents could construct what amounted to a cultural particle accelerator in a small San Franciscan house? This book allows readers a window onto the confluence of artistry, innovation, drugs, sexuality, poverty, resourcefulness and, most importantly, the sense of fun that permeated the air during those years."—Richard Henderson, critic for The Wire magazine"As I devoured this vibrantly detailed history of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, I found myself wishing repeatedly that I'd been born a couple of decades earlier, so I could have been present for a string of historic events: the debut of the Don Buchla synthesizer, the premiere of Terry Riley's In C, Ramon Sender's Tropical Fish Opera, Pauline Oliveros's multimedia concert at the Trips Festival. 
The heroes of the Center were in the business of realizing unimagined possibilities, and they did much to shape the legendary culture of San Francisco in the later sixties."—Alex Ross"Hats off to David Bernstein for flooding a dark corner of recent musical history with new light, as warm as it is brilliant."—Richard Taruskin, author of The Oxford History of Western Music"This high-voltage oral history takes us straight back to the West Coast epicenter of experimental music in the early 1960s, where synthesizers and tape loops met light shows and LSD, and Merry Pranksters hung with the masters of minimalism.
Reading it is like visiting a foreign country and realizing you were born there."—Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

About the Author

David W. 
Bernstein is Professor of Music and Head of the Music Department at Mills College.
He is coeditor, with Christopher Hatch, of Writings Through John Cage’s Music, Poetry, and Art and Music Theory and the Exploration of the Past.


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Comment List (Total:9)

  •     The book is a valuable addition to the history of Experimental and Electronic Music, though I found it slightly dry in places.What really stood out for me was the accompanying DVD, which provides very high quality documentation of a sort of 'reunion' concert. Watching it I wished I'd been at the show, and I was delighted to have such a good resource to recommend to my students. The DVD also allowed me to hear pieces I had previously only read about, as some of the performances/tape pieces included are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere.
  •     A wonderful examination of an important period in electronic and electroacoustic music. All of the people involved are pioneers and have had a major influence in musical composition, recording and thinking. Comes with a DVD performance of Pauline Oliveros.
  •     Great documentation and interviews with major figures from the scene, including Oliveros, Subotnick, Sender, Buchla and an especially interesting interview with visuals pioneer Tony Martin.The book is accessible for the general reader, and essential if you're interested in any of these musicians or the early history of electronic and tape music -- and also the birth of (west coast) modular synthesis.It also has good detail about the challenges of running an independent artistic enterprise on virtually no budget, and when working at the very edge of what the media and general public considered music to be. It becomes clear that building a functional, independent electronic music studio at this time was no small feat, given that this was still a time when most electronic music creation was confined to academic and government institutions.The DVD of the reunion concert is a nice bonus, but unfortunately it looks pretty bad -- only a few camera angles, poorly framed shots from distance, etc.
  •     Great book, but it didn't come with the DVD! Luckily my local library has it so I will burn it, but this should have been more clearly advertised!
  •     An informative look at a time of creative transformation linking innovative artists with new energies.
  •     An interesting and eye opening glimpse of the underground electronic music scene in 1960s San Francisco. It is very well done and includes information that is nowhere else.
  •     DVD too!
  •     The description says that you receive a DVD, and the copy at my local library has a DVD. But the copy I just got from SuperBookDeals did NOT have a DVD. Apparently, the DVD is not included in the 2nd printing which isn't mentioned by Amazon. I feel cheated.As for the book, it has some very interesting chapters and some that are somewhat tiresome. It's loaded with historical facts and stories that would be of interest to anyone who loves electronic music from some of the pioneers of the genre. I would rate this as a 5 star if the DVD was included.
  •     ,The San Francisco Tape Music Center' is a collection of essays and interviews about the first electronic music studio on the west coast. At the time, there were only a few of these institutions worldwide and fierce differences of opinion and methodology between them. In Paris, for example, were Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry who came up with `musique concrète' which consisted of the montage of natural sounds on tape. This approach was anathema to the people around Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne, who also used tape but insisted on only utilizing electronically generated sounds.To the initiators in San Francisco, Ramon Sender, Pauline Oliveros and Morton Subotnick, these factional disputes appeared meaningless so the chose the ecumenical name `Tape Music' as tape was the medium common to all these endeavours. Happily for us, they kept this unorthodox approach to produce a series of momentous works.Since all of the main protagonists get to tell their story and there is also a comprehensive introductory essay by editor David Bernstein we have some overlap in the main narrative (after all, the period in question were roughly the six years from 1960 to 1966). I find the structure fitting to the subject matter as one of the main techniques used by these composers was repetition, in particular the tape loop. In repeating the main story over and over, every time with some modification and different point of view we arrive at a much more substantial story than one straight essay could have provided.To someone interested in the technical aspects it is astounding how basic the equipment was initially. Some tape recorders and noise-making stuff, mainly car parts that were then recorded and edited. Ultimately this led to the creation of the Buchla box, one of the first, if not the first, voltage-controlled synthesizers.Included with the book is a DVD of a concert series, where all the protagonists met again and perform their works - this movie alone is worth the price of the book.

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