chapter  5
32 Pages

‘Primitive Designs’: Hearing and Thinking through Intersection 3

In many ways, Feldman’s public career as a composer was founded upon the early attention attracted to his graph (or grid) scores of the early 1950s. These works immediately caught the attention of John Cage, and were among the first of Feldman’s works to be performed, recorded, written about and published. Cage, Cowell and Wolpe spoke about these works in lectures in the 1950s and also wrote about them.3 Several of these scores attained the dubious status of common textbook illustrations, presented by some as the first graphic scores (a debatable notion) and by others as exemplars of indeterminacy in musical composition (again, problematic), and often understood as a response to abstract expressionism (on the basis of anecdotal rather than analytical evidence). Almost every survey

text on twentieth-century music from the latter half of the century contains at least one page from a Feldman grid score, most often from either the Projection or Intersection series.4