Bad Radio 6: A Snapshot of Static Music from the Late 1950’s and Early 1960’s

Written by on May 23, 2018

Bad Radio is a secret archive of shows devoted to a society of 20th century avant-garde musicians and their influences. The sixth installment looks at the static music from the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Bad Radio episodes 1 through 5 examined the La Monte Young and Terry Riley, two musicians who developed and concentrated on static music in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Static music is music that does not have the dynamic, forward momentum gained from traditional harmony. It sounds fixed, but continuous. Long notes, repeated phrases, modes, or dense atonality can achieve this sound. It can be found non-Western and early music (the drone in Indian music or the model chants of early church music comes to mind). In the West, the early 1950’s and early 1960’s was a time when elements of static music were popping up in a variety of places. Episode 6 of Bad Radio looks at a few of these.

  • The Julliard String Quartet “String Quartet No. 2” from Elliott Carter: The Five String Quartets (Sony 1959)
  • Miles Davis “All Blues” from Kind of Blue (Columbia 1959)
  • John Lee Hooker “Dimples” from 20 Greatest Hits (Blue City 1988)
  • John Lee Hooker “Onions” from 20 Greatest Hits (Blue City 1988)
  • John Lee Hooker “No Shoes” from 20 Greatest Hits (Blue City 1988)
  • John Lee Hooker “Boom Boom” from 20 Greatest Hits (Blue City 1988)
  • LaSalle Quartet “String Quartet by Witold Lutoslawski” from String Quartets (Deutsche Grammophon 1965)
  • Ornette Coleman “Lonely Woman” from The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic Records 1959)
  • George Russell Sextet “Ezz-Thetics” (Riverside 1961)
  • LaSalle String Quartet “Quartetto per Archi by Krzysztof Penderecki” from String Quartets (Deutsche Grammophon 1962)
  • Thelonious Monk Quartet “Rhythm-A-Ning (feat. Johnny Griffin)” from Thelonious in Action (Live) [feat. Johnny Griffin] (Original Jazz Classics 1958)

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