Duchampian Music in Delaware (and Beyond)
By Scott Martin
posted: 01-29-10
Erratum Musicum (cover, Stephanie Ginsburgh recording)
Image Source
Despite objections, Marcel Duchamp's legacy is conventionally interpreted within the context of the visual arts -- the empire of the "mere retinal" -- but he did compose two pieces of music and in them, his favorite work, Three Standard Stoppages, and elsewhere he explored the operation of chance in creation, clearing the way for John Cage and other contemporary composers to do likewise in the musical realm. And of course if music is the art most concerned with organizing units of time, then chess (with its rhythmic alternation of "moves" and silences and its inevitable development from opening to mate) is the brother of music.

Composer Matthew Hagerty's chamber piece "After Duchamp" is premiering on Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware, performed by early/contemporary fusion ensemble Mélomanie; for more details, For those who cannot attend, Cage's "Music for Marcel Duchamp" is relatively well known; a full-scale Duchampian opera by Charles Shere was revived recently in California and may be ripe for reinvestigation.


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