Experimental music history and techniques

Hi everyone,

I want to know more about the history of experimental music and share some techniques. The obvious start would be studying John Cage, but there’s much more than that, so let’s have a chat


Whenever this subject comes up, I can’t help but think of Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room

He records a phrase on tape and then feeds back the audio onto tape over and over, so the resonant frequencies of the room start to accentuate and blend over and over until none of the words are intelligible. Pretty interesting.


The sound art archive covers a lot of cool territory, not so much in depth but would be a great guide for further reading:


This timeline of the history of chip music makes a lot of nice detours and overlaps with a lot of non chip music experimental music starting in the 30s. Also has a much better coverage of early amateur computer music where other histories tend to ignore lots of stuff outside of academia:


Although I didn’t get to the very end of the course, I found the content of this Kadenze course very informative. Seth Cluett talks a little bit of the composition methods of early musique concrete studios as well as Stockhausen techniques in the Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne.

Here it’s a performance and further explanation of Cluett’s approach to a max patch that he has developed over 20 years that consists in several file players and oscillators, modeled after the constraints of a working desk in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.


There’s a lot out there but I particularly like Jennie Gottschalk’s experimental music since 1970 because it covers recent developments and it is organized by process type (ex. perception or scientific approaches etc).

Google Books Page

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Samuel Andreyev has some great information on his YouTube channel including interviews and analysis of pieces, Q&A, etc:

Here are some documentaries that are definitely worth watching:


Here is a short list of “experimental” for my audio class
coveres entry level pieces for a bunch of techniques and what not


This book covers so mch in great depth, I read it ten years ago but for anything related to the 20th century of Experimental music you can’t really fault the information contained…


Checked this out from the library before my job went WFH — it looks like you can read it online if you have WorldCat access

Alvin Lucier’s book “Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music” is worth checking out as an introduction. The lectures have a conversational tone, with pieces more often than not being contextualized through his own personal involvement with them or their composers, that I’ve found to be both illustrative by themselves and very good jumping off points for going deeper into specific works, techniques or slices of history (limited to just from around the 1950s to the 1980s).