Tony Conrad’s 200-Hour Avant-Garde Piano Composition, “Music & the Mind of the World”: Now Free Online for the First Time

Last year, Tony Conrad–an avant-garde video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician, composer, and sound artist–died at the age of 76. In its obituary, The New York Times wrote:

Mr. Conrad was relentless and rigorous in expanding the parameters of the fields in which he worked. His early musical compositions, like “Four Violins” (1964), were high-volume sustained drones. His first film, “The Flicker” (1966), created a pulsating stroboscopic effect with alternating black and white frames. It was preceded by a stern warning that the film could induce epileptic seizures in certain spectators and that audience members remained in the theater at their own risk.

Another work that elsewhere gets special mention is “Music and the Mind of the World,” a piano composition comprising over 200 hours of recorded music. Influential but little heard, “Music and the Mind of the World” features “the sounds of practicing, banging on the keys, formal exercises, experiments with the harmonic sonority of the piano itself, and even ‘On Top of Old Smokey’.” Begun in 1976 and completed in 1982,“Music and the Mind of the World” is a “total encounter between an improvising performer and the central instrument of Western musical culture.”

For the first time, that influential piece has now been published and made available online for free on Youtube (above), or at this dedicated website. Set aside a big chunk of time and start streaming.

To learn more about the conceptual underpinnings of this avant-garde creation, read this interview with Conrad. (I’d suggest clicking here and doing a keyword search for “Could you tell me something about your late 70s music, such as Music and the Mind of the World?”).

via @WFMU

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