My first year in college (1974-5), we were treated to an exhibition of the original score pages selected by John Cage and Alison Knowles for their highly influential 1969 book Notations (currently available as a free PDF download at UbuWeb).
For young composers at the time, these bits and pieces of anything-but-standard notation were eye- and ear-opening, sent us scouring the library stacks for more, and led us all to go a little crazy trying to mimic or out-write what we saw there.
Then as sequel this year, Theresa Sauer carried the idea up to our own time with Notations 21, an updated compendium of all the fruit that’s come from those first flowers.
I’m mentioning this because down here in Houston I just received a little whiff of that wonderful déjà vu this afternoon. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has a show up and running through December 7th, titled Perspectives 163: Every Sound You Can Imagine. It’s kind of a mix of both Cage/Knowles-old and Sauer-new, with a scattering of more traditional scores by some of the recent “big names” (Lou Harrison, Rorem, Glass, Reich, Riley, Dresher, Adams — John and John Luther –, Bryars, Crumb, Nyman, etc.).
The list of old mingling with new is long: Steve Roden (image above right), Wadada Leo Smith (image left), Cage, Brown, Bussotti, Feldman, Ashley, Mumma, Brandt, Stockhausen (dad and son), Xenakis, Wolff, Dick Higgins, Knowles, Yasunao Tone, Subtonick, Cardew, Curran, Per Norgard, Phill Niblock, La Monte Young, Stephen Vitiello, Kaffe Mathews, Maja Ratkje, Nancarrow, Daniel Lentz, Elena Kats-Chernin, Jennifer Walshe, Stephen Scott, Wallace Berman, Marina Rosenfeld, Christian Marclay… etc., etc…. If your travels take you down this way, be sure to make room for a visit.