Tag Archives: Features

R.I.P. Lawrence “Butch” Morris, 1947-2013, known for his “Conductions”

Musician and composer Lawrence “Butch” Morris passed away on Jan. 29, 2013. Among his achievements, he was noted for his technique of “conduction”, a combination of conducting and improvisation. The image to the left shows the technique, using gestures to elicit musical responses from an ensemble of musicians, here in the piece “Possible Universe”.

A full obituary in the New York Times is available at this link.

You can sample Butch Morris’ conductions in the 10-CD box set “Testament” (CD3224, available for check-out in the Music & Arts Library. ) Many conductions are also available, in streaming audio, from the Database of Recorded American Music (DRAM), to which the Libraries subscribe. Here’s a link to “The Long Goodbye“, from Morris’ 1990 album “Dust to Dust” (Note: you must be a full-time Columbia affiliate to access this link).

Viewing Graphic Scores, with GSAPP students

  On Wed 10/3/12, the Music & Arts Library was pleased to welcome two groups of students from the Graduate School or Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), to view a  presentation of a selection of graphic scores from our collections.

Graphic scores are musical scores where the composer has used graphic elements which go beyond conventional musical notation, in representing the musical intentions of the composer. The students were particularly interested in seeing how these musical representations related to diagramming and some of their drawing assignments.


Students were able to browse several scores from our collections, featuring graphic musical notation, ranging from the 14th-century “Belle, Bonne, Sage” by Baude Cordier, in the shape of a heart (reproduced in facsimile, left), to Robert Moran‘s 1965 “L’Apres-midi du Dracoula” (next photo) (one realization of this score can be heard here). Other works on view included pieces by John Cage, Sylvano Bussotti, Robert Ashley, Earle Brown, Pauline Oliveros, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

  We were delighted to have these two groups visit, and love opportunities to show off materials from the collection…

… and, it’s particularly exciting to host groups that are doing interdisciplinary work. Music and sound are overlapping with a lot of other areas, these days.

Thanks, GSAPP students, for stopping by! And, if you’re an instructor or TA interested in having your Columbia class visit, or if you just have further questions or interests in graphic music scores,  don’t hesitate to contact us, at musiclibrary@columbia.edu.

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935)

    Since we’re still in the shadow of Brazilian World Music Day, today we feature Brazilian composer Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935), a remarkable woman of musical firsts from 19th-century Brazil, who remained active well into the 20th century.

A composer of over 300 works, she was born in Rio de Janeiro, and studied the piano. After two marriages, and children,  she separated from her 2nd husband and published the polka Atraente in 1877. Other works followed, including the operettas A corte na roça (1885) and the three-act Forrobodó, which received 1500 performances. The first work earned her the nickname of “the feminine Offenbach“. Her compositions included 77 works for the stage, and included collaborations with well-known Brazilian playwrights.  Her published works include waltzes, polkas, tangos, mazurkas, quadrilles, gavottes, habaneras, barcarolles, serenatas, maxixes, lundus, fados, modinhas, marchas and choros. She was the first woman to conduct an orchestra in Brazil, and was an active supporter of the Brazilian movement to end of slavery (1888) and the proclamation of the Republic (1889). (text adapted from Magaldi, Christina. “Gonzaga, Chiquinha.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 13 Sep. 2012 <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/45492>)

Several CDs of her works are listed in CLIO.  You can also listen to a few tracks via our streaming audio database Naxos Music Library, including this track, Atraente (mentioned above) . Another performance of this work is also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8rB0ofBYR8.

Get to know the music of this interesting Brazilian musical pioneer!