December 8, 2007

Downtown Music, 1971-87: An Overview and Resource Guide

Click here to go directly to the Downtown Music Guide

In early 2007 I wrote a research guide to downtown music of the 70s & 80s for NYU's Fales Library. It was posted online in December 2007. Fales has major archival collections in the area of downtown arts of that period, and the guide is intended as an additional resource for researchers in downtown arts and culture as well as a collection development tool. This blog has been created as an additional entry point to the guide and a point of communication to the author. In the posts below readers can comment on the guide in general or suggest resources I may have overlooked.

This guide is an attempt to provide an overview of the major strains of downtown music during the years 1971-1987, a period of remarkable artistic ferment. It should be seen as an aid to further research rather than a comprehensive summation. It covers "new music" (i.e., contemporary classical), jazz and improvised music, and rock, with particular attention to the intermixing of styles and genres that was characteristic of downtown arts in the 'seventies and 'eighties. Each section provides a brief historical overview followed by selected resources, including lists of significant artists and venues, selected bibliographies and discographies, and web resources. Bibliographies and discographies are not intended to be comprehensive but rather are suggested starting points for research on a specific genre or subgenre. The discographies, in general, focus on compilations that give a broad overview of the music; where possible, links have been provided to more detailed web-based discographies.

The guide's home page has a table of contents with links to the various sections. Starting with the Introduction you can page through sequentially via links at the bottom of each page.

Click here to go to the Downtown Music Guide

Additional Resources

Please use the comments link below to suggest any resources (web links, books, articles, compilation discs, etc.) that I may have overlooked, or that may not have been available when I wrote the guide. If I'm unable to incorporate them in the main pages, at least they'll be listed here.

General Comments

This is the place to post any general comments, suggestions, queries or bones of contention about the downtown music guide.

Artists Mentioned

The following artists are listed in the resources sections of the guide, and are here mainly for indexing purposes. It is by no means a complete list, but includes major downtown artists who were active between 1971 and 1987. Many artists whose most significant work came before or after this period are not included.

Laurie Anderson
Robert Ashley
David Behrman
Glenn Branca
Anthony Braxton
Joel Chadabe
Rhys Chatham
Philip Corner
Julius Eastman
Henry Flynt
Jon Gibson
Philip Glass
Daniel Goode
Peter Gordon
Tom Johnson
Guy Klucevsek
George Lewis
Garrett List
Annea Lockwood
Alvin Lucier
Meredith Monk
Charlie Morrow
Gordon Mumma
Phill Niblock
Pauline Oliveros
Charlemagne Palestine
Elaine Radigue
Steve Reich
Arthur Russell
Frederic Rzewski
Bob Telson
Blue Gene Tyranny
David Van Tieghem
La Monte Young

Dead Boys
Wayne County
Richard Hell (Voidoids, Heartbreakers, Television)
Mink DeVille
New York Dolls
Patti Smith
Talking Heads
Tuff Darts (featuring Robert Gordon)
Velvet Underground

Bush Tetras
Glenn Branca
Certain General
James Chance (Contortions, James White and the Blacks)
Rhys Chatham
Fred Frith (Skeleton Crew, Massacre)
Golden Palominos
Kid Creole and the Coconuts
Lounge Lizards
Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Arthur Russell / Dinosaur L
Elliott Sharp
Sonic Youth
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks / Lydia Lunch
Y Pants
Z'EV (Stefan Weisser)

Air (Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins, Steve McCall)
Rashied Ali
Ahmed Abdullah
Hamiet Bluiett
Arthur Blythe
Anthony Braxton
Ted Daniel
John Fischer
Julius Hemphill
Oliver Lake
Frank Lowe
David Murray
Revolutionary Ensemble (Leroy Jenkins, Sirone, Jerome Cooper)
Sam Rivers
Perry Robinson
Warren Smith
Charles Tyler

Tim Berne
Polly Bradfield
Eugene Chadbourne
Anthony Coleman
Tom Cora
Marty Ehrlich
Bill Frisell
Fred Frith
Kip Hanrahan
Wayne Horvitz
Guy Klucevsek
Christian Marclay
Microscopic Septet
Lawrence "Butch" Morris
David Moss
Zeena Parkins
Bobby Previte
Ned Rothenberg
Elliott Sharp
Jim Staley
John Zorn