Between Composition

Political and technological developments in the early 20th century introduced composers such as John Cage and Pauline Oliveros to an entirely new set of tools for the production of contemporary music. These artists pioneered an experimental sound practice by introducing the use of chance operations and environmental or “found” sounds—typically regarded as non-musical—to the compositional lexicon. This approach created a grey area, blurring social constructs that defined where music began and “real-life” ended and often complicated traditional relationships between owner, user, audience, and performer. The practice of experimental music-making continues to grow and respond to shifts in the technological and cultural landscape