Musical Game Structures

Quite early in my musical life I became interested in Game Structures. I’ve already mentioned discovering some avant-garde composers through my high-school library’s bizarre decision to subscribe to “Source: Music of the Avant-Garde” during my junior year (two issues/year…and at the end of the year, noting that I was the only person who ever read them, and that I read them constantly, the librarians gave the magazines to me; they’re on the shelf behind me as I write). A few years later, living in Cambridge, I worked with Karl Boyle, who was writing some quite astonishing music that radically transformed the conceptual frameworks of everyone who participated in it.

Particularly important was a set of three pieces called the “Sound/Movement Murals,” an attempt to create performance structures which would engage musicians and dancers in the interpretation of a single set of instructions; all of us were “reading off the same score.” They were performed on stage in Boston; if I recall correctly it was as part of a festival of performance art.

These pieces have continued to influence me, off and on, for the last thirty years or so. Perhaps Karl has them somewhere in his files, and perhaps he would consider releasing them for others to learn from. I hope so.

In 1996 I was developing a music and music-making curriculum for the City of Boston’s After School program. As part of the materials, I wanted to include samples of alternative “notations,” so I generated a few pieces for inclusion in the curriculum (which is still available through Arts in Progress under the title “Ways of Listening”)

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