experimental compositions

  • In the turbulent years from 1912 to 1915, Marcel Duchamp worked with musical ideas. He composed two works of music and a conceptual piece -- a note suggesting a musical happening. Of the two compositions, one is for three voices and the other combines a piece for a mechanical instrument with a description of the compositional system.
  • Although Marcel Duchamp's musical oeuvre is sparse, these pieces represent a radical departure from anything done up until that time. Duchamp anticipated with his music something that then became apparent in the visual arts, especially in the Dada Movement: the arts are here for all to create, not just for skilled professionals. Duchamp's lack of musical training could have only enhanced his exploration in compositions. His pieces are completely independent of the prevailing musical scene around 1913.
  • The pieces by Marcel Duchamp are all different. Two of them have been composed with chance operations, but in each case the method is different. The third piece is just a short note on a small, stray piece of paper. It is not possible to precisely date these pieces, but it is almost certain that they were all written in 1913.
  • The earliest known public performance of 'Musical Erratum' was broadcast over Tokyo FM radio's Music of the Twentieth Century in October 1960, director Kuniharu Akiyama. Akiyama also produced in 1969 the composition's stage premier in the program Rencontre with the 20th Century's Art Movements and Music in Tokyo.
    Petr Kotik, 'The Music of Marcel Duchamp', text to the CD Music of Marcel Duchamp, Edition Block + Paula Cooper Gallery, 1991 and Schwarz, The complete works of Marcel Duchamp (New York, 2000) 572.
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  • The entire musical work of Marcel Duchamp
    Ampersand : Chicago IL 2001
    1 sound disc (48 min.)
    S.E.M. Ensemble (Petr Kotik, alto flute; James Kasprowicz, trombone; William Lyon Lee, celesta; John Bondler, glockenspiel). Recorded at Studi Regson, Milan, May 7, 1976. Multhipla Records, Milano, No.1, 1976. Petr Kotik Composer and Conductor.
    • Contents:
      1. La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (25:30)
      2. 1.3 voices : erratum musical (4:35)
      3. La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même [player piano realization] (12:15)
      4. Musical sculpture (4:46)
  • The entire musical work
    Dog W/A Bone : New York, 2000
    1 sound disc : digital, stereo
    Chance compositions. Text of 1st work is a dictionary definition of the verb "to print" in French; that of the 2nd a "mesostic" by John Cage on words by Duchamp.
    The 3rd work recorded at the QRS Music Rolls Factory, Buffalo, NY; all remaining works recorded in 1987, New York NY. Edition Block + Paula Cooper Gallery, 1991 (EB-202), later reissued by Dog W/A Bone.
  • Based out of the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, in association with Petr Kotik's S.E.M. Ensemble, this Duchamp CD is a similar release to the CD on the Ampere label; the main difference is that this DWAB version features one additional piece, 'Sculpture Musicale' (a mesostic performed by John Cage) & features improved sound/performance according to Kotik. This CD was recorded in 1987 by S.E.M. (including Ben Neill on trumpet); the Ampere version was recorded in 1976.
    • Contents
      1. Erratum musical. For three voices (S.E.M. Ensemble (Jean Crossman, Lois Winter, sopranos ; William Lyon Lee, tenor)) (8:06)
      2. Sculpture musicale / mesostic by John Cage (John Cage, voice) (4:06)
      3. La mariée mise à nu par ses celibataires même. Erratum musical : mechanical piano / transcribed by Petr Kotik (10:42)
      4. Sculpture musicale / version by Petr Kotik (5:22)
      5. La mariée mise à nu par ses celibataires même. Erratum musical / realization by Petr Kotik (S.E.M. Ensemble (Petr Kotik, flute ; Ben Neill, trumpet ; Rob Bethea, trombone ; Gwendolyn Toth, celesta ; Chris Nappi, marimbaphone) (23:02)
  • Erratum musical [Subtitle on container: 7 variations on a draw of 88 notes]
    Sub Rosa : Brussels 2000
    1 sound disc : digital
    Seven realizations of the same work. Includes program notes in English and French on insert.
    Stephane Ginsburgh, piano. Recorded February 8, 2000, at 17 Rue de Bordeaux, Brussels.
    • Contents
      1. Tirage 63-78 : Sec (3:31)
      2. Tirage 63-78 : Sustain (5:16)
      3. Tirage 63-78 : UC + sus (7:49)
      4. Tirage 63-78 : Très lent, fort (36:34)
      5. Tirage 78-63>63-78 : Envers-endroit (8:39)
      6. Tirage 78-63 : Détaché (3:15)
      7. Tirage 78-63 : Détaché, pianissimo (3:21)
  • Ives, Duchamp, Cage
    Stockholm 1982
    Caprice, No. CAP 1226
    Phonodisc. Included folder with informations and photos of the composers and interpreters. Text by Per-Anders Heliqvist and Bengi Emil Johnson. Mats Persson/ Kristine Scholz (piano).
    • Contents
      1. Charles Ives: Three Quarter-Tone Pieces
      2. Marcel Duchamp: La mariée mise a nu par ses célibataires, même
      3. Marcel Duchamp: Erratum musical
      4. John Cage: A Book of Music for Two Prepared Pianos
  • John Cage & Marcel Duchamp
    Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studio, New York. No date mentioned. LP released in 1977
    Finnadar Records, No. SR 9017
    Phonodisc. Donald Knaack (percussionist) with recordings of Cage's 27'10.554'' and Duchamp's 'Bride Stripped Bare' as well as his 'Erratum Musical'.
  • The Entire Musical Work of Marcel Duchamp
    Milano 1976
    Multhipla Records, No. 1
    S.E.M. Ensemble (Petr Kotik, alto flute; James Kasprowicz, trombone; William Lyon Lee, celesta; John Bondler, glockenspiel). Recorded at Studi Regson, Milan, May 7, 1976.
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  • [book] Marcel Duchamp and John Cage / by Shigeko Kubota (Takeyoshi Miyazawa : [s.l.], 1970) 1 vol. (unpaged) : ill. + 1 phonodisc.
  • Duchamp, Teeny and Cage during 'Reunion'Consists mainly of photographs taken at a chess concert entitled 'Reunion', which occurred March 5, 1968, at Ryerson Theatre in Toronto. The participants were John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Teeny Duchamp, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma, David Behrman, and Lowell Crass. Lowell Crass constructed a chess board with circuits; moves on the board transmitted or cut off sound produced by several musicians (see also Art in America 61 (November 1973) 72-79).
  • A part of the concert is contained on the phonodisc and contains acoustic signals produced by the individual move during the game. John Cage and Marcel Duchamp were playing chess on a board prepared by Lowell Cross, Teeny Duchamp looked on, Gordon Mumma, David Tudor and David Behrman operated the sound systems.
  • listen'Reissued by Electronic Music Foundation on the disc Power and Responsibility by VA. This CD is a great compilation of music, multimedia, and software by composers, improvisers, programmers, and artists. The CD includes two excerpts from John Cage's 'Reunion' (1968), Clay Chaplin's 'Jerry Deals', Chris Brown's 'Talkingdrum' and more. See also the John Cage Database
  • Craig Adcock
    'Marcel Duchamp's Gap Music. Operations in the Space between Art and Noise', in Douglas Kahn and Gregory Whitehead (eds.), Wireless Imagination. Sound, Radio, and the Avant-Garde (MIT Press : Cambridge MA 1992). Wireless Imagination is reviewed by Ágnes Ivacs for Artpool.
  • Michael Betancourt
    'Chance Operations / Limiting Frameworks. Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions', in tout-fait. The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal 2, Nr. 4 (2002) [online]; available at <http://www.toutfait.com/online_journal_details.php?postid=1452> [accessed 25 June 2013].
  • Gavin Bryars
    'Notes on Marcel Duchamp's Music', in Studio International 192 (November-December 1976) 274-279. Reprinted in Anthony Hill (ed.), Duchamp. Passim. A Marcel Duchamp Anthology (Langhorne PA 1994).
  • Ya-Ling Chen
    'Erratum Musical, 1913', in tout-fait. The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal 1, Nr. 1 (December 1999) [online]; available at <http://www.toutfait.com/online_journal_details.php?postid=805> [accessed 25 June 2013].
  • Ya-Ling Chen
    'Somewhere between Dream and Reality. Shigeko Kubota’s Reunion with Duchamp and Cage', in tout-fait. The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal 2, Nr. 4 (2002) [online]; available at <http://www.toutfait.com/online_journal_details.php?postid=1457> [accessed 25 June 2013].
  • Lowell Cross
    'Reunion. John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Electronic Music and Chess', in Leonardo Music Journal 9 (2000). Special Issue 'Power and Responsibility: Politics, Identity and Technology in Music'.
  • Carol P. James
    'Duchamp's Silent Noise/Music for the Deaf', in Dada/Surrealism 16 (1987) 106-126. Reprinted in Rudolf Kuenzli and Francis M. Naumann (eds.), Marcel Duchamp. Artist of the Century (MIT Press : Cambridge MA 1989).
  • Petr Kotik
    'The Music of Marcel Duchamp', from the CD Music of Marcel Duchamp, Edition Block + Paula Cooper Gallery, 1991 [online]; available at <http://www.ubu.com/papers/kotik.html> [accessed 25 June 2013].
  • Leigh Landy
    'Duchamp, Dada composer and his vast influence on post-World War II avant-garde music', in Avant Garde. Interdisciplinary and international review vol. 2 Special issue 'Marcle Duchamp' (Amsterdam 1989) 131-144.
  • Sylvère Lotringer
    'Becoming Duchamp', in Tout-fait. The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal 1, Nr. 2 (May 2000) [online]; available at <http://www.toutfait.com/issues/issue_2/Articles/lotringer.html> [accessed 25 June 2013].
  • Moira Roth
    Difference/Indifference. Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage / commentary by Jonathan D. Katz. Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture Series (Gordon and Breach Publishing Group : Amsterdam 1998).
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    banner: portrait Marcel Duchamp [Photo Richard Avedon].