As I was writing Experimental Music Since 1970, I was well aware that people who are doing important work within this field would go unreferenced due to limitations of time, page count, and my own working process and scope of knowledge. It was a perpetual source of frustration, briefly mentioned in the introductory section (p. 7).
This book is also not a “who’s who” of experimental music or an attempt to establish a canon. A person’s presence or absence has nearly as much to do with my ability to talk about their work within the structure that has developed as it does with their standing in the field. Many other musicians deserve a place here, and I hope this text will be understood as a series of starting points rather than as anything like a final statement. It’s impossible to fully delineate a field that is still active and thriving.
This kind of concern became dominant for a time, and I realized I was never going to finish the project without somehow coming to terms with it. I came up with three arguments (two of them roughly parallel images) to keep the work going.
1) What I’m trying to do is provide a rough mapping or orientation, rather than a thorough catalogue. Hopefully that will enable people to find their way to territories that interest them, and from there to find other work that is meaningful to them. The goal is to provide some landmarks to make this field easier to navigate than it currently is.
2) If others have different or further ideas of what experimental music is or who is practicing it, I’m offering a framework to argue against. These conversations are welcome.
3) A book at some point becomes a static document. There might be revisions down the road, but it takes a clear form. Sound Expanse is a platform that already exists that by its very name (created long before the book was even a notion) suggests a widening scope. So I can use that to extend, correct, and present other viewpoints after the book is published.
I want to know about other work and how it either fits within this rough mapping I’ve offered or — perhaps even better — suggests that there are whole other areas of exploration in this field that I’ve never even considered. If you have a person or topic you would like to write about that challenges or extends what I’ve written, I am very open to either directly posting or linking to it. Any form from a list to a longer piece is equally welcome. I will be doing my own extending and challenging as well, but one person’s scope is always limited.