Music After the Fall

Modern Composition and Culture Since 1989


To be published by University of California Press.

Due date: February 2017

To purchase, request an exam copy, or find more information, please visit University of California Press.

Table of contents

  1. 1989 and After
  2. Mediation and the Marketplace
  3. Permission: Freedom, Choice, and the Body
  4. Fluidity: Digital Translations, Displacements, and Journeys
  5. Mobility: Worldwide Flows, Networks, and Archipelagos
  6. Superabundance: Spectacle, Scale, and Excess
  7. Loss: Ruins, Memorials, and Documents
  8. Recovery: Gaps between Past and Present

Appendix 1: Recommended Listening

Appendix 2: Recommended Reading


By the start of the 21st century many of the foundations of postwar culture had disappeared: Europe had been rebuilt and, as the EU, had become one of the world’s largest economies; the United States’ claim to global dominance was threatened; and the postwar social democratic consensus was being replaced by market-led neoliberalism. Most importantly of all, the Cold War was over, and the World Wide Web had been born.

Figure 19 steen-andersen RESEND

Music After the Fall considers contemporary musical composition against this changed backdrop, placing it in the context of globalization, digitization, and new media. Drawing on theories from the other arts, in particular art and architecture, it expands the definition of Western art music to include forms of composition, experimental music, sound art, and crossover work from across the spectrum, inside and beyond the concert hall.

ARS ELECTRONICA 2008; A NEW CULTURAL ECONOMY: Sonorous Embodiment – Grosse Konzertnacht; Brucknerhaus – Pamela Z: voice and electronics. Foto: rubra

Each chapter critically considers a wide range of composers, performers, works, and institutions to build up a broad and rich picture of the new music ecosystem, from North American string quartets to Lebanese improvisers, from electroacoustic music studios in South America to ruined pianos in the Australian outback. A new approach to the study of contemporary music is developed that relies less on taxonomies of style and technique, and more on the comparison of different responses to common themes, among them permission, fluidity, excess, and loss.

Figure 28 ikeda