The Avant-Garde Project: An Archive of Music by 200 Cutting-Edge Composers, Including Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Cage & More

avant gardeEvery sphere of record­ed music, from late-1960s folk to Philadel­phia hip-hop to Japan­ese jazz (a per­son­al pur­suit of mine), has its crate-dig­gers, those hap­py to flip through hun­dreds — nay, hun­dreds of thou­sands — of obscure, for­got­ten vinyl albums in search of their sub­gen­re’s even obscur­er, more for­got­ten gems. This holds espe­cial­ly true, if not in num­ber than in avid­i­ty, for enthu­si­asts of the 20th-cen­tu­ry clas­si­cal-exper­i­men­tal-elec­troa­coustic tra­di­tion that The Avant-Garde Project takes as its preser­va­tion man­date. The site offers mate­r­i­al “dig­i­tized from LPs whose music has in most cas­es nev­er been released on CD, and so is effec­tive­ly inac­ces­si­ble to the vast major­i­ty of music lis­ten­ers today.” To the best of the Archive’s knowl­edge, the LPs are all cur­rent­ly out of print, and all the music is extract­ed with an ana­log rig that ranks as “near state-of-the-art, pro­duc­ing almost none of the track­ing dis­tor­tion or sur­face noise nor­mal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with LPs.”

The Avant-Garde Pro­jec­t’s efforts, the archive of which you can browse here (or alpha­bet­i­cal­ly by com­pos­er, or through choice sam­plers, or through the “AGP top twen­ty,” or through the founder’s per­son­al favorites), has borne a great deal of fruit so far, espe­cial­ly from such music-his­to­ry class favorites as Arnold Schoen­berg, whose String Trio per­formed by the Los Ange­les String Trio you can hear above, and Igor Stravin­sky, whose Sym­pho­ny of Psalms you’ll find below. Every­thing in the Avant-Garde Pro­jec­t’s archive comes down­load­able as tor­rents of Free Loss­less Audio Codec (FLAC) files. This audio­phile’s com­pres­sion for­mat of choice requires a bit of spe­cial but eas­i­ly obtained soft­ware to play or burn to CDs, all of which you can get explained here (with even more infor­ma­tion here). Those who’d like to keep it sim­ple (if not quite as aural­ly pris­tine) can lis­ten through a small­er ver­sion of the archive at Ubuweb. Either way, you’ll enjoy all the artis­tic rich­ness of rare 20th-cen­tu­ry clas­si­cal-exper­i­men­tal-elec­troa­coustic music with none of the dig­ging.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Exten­sive Archive of Avant-Garde & Mod­ernist Mag­a­zines (1890–1939) Now Avail­able Online

Vi Hart Uses Her Video Mag­ic to Demys­ti­fy Stravin­sky and Schoenberg’s 12-Tone Com­po­si­tions

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Visu­al­ized in a Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion for Its 100th Anniver­sary

Inter­views with Schoen­berg and Bartók

Hear Theodor Adorno’s Avant-Garde Musi­cal Com­po­si­tions

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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