20th Century American Experimental Music


From John Cage Through Minimalism:


 An Internet Resource






In the field of traditional Western music history, there are many useful websites to help teachers recall details forgotten since undergraduate school.  One can always find information on Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, or any of the traditional composers, and confusion about any aspect of their music or biography is instantly cleared away.  However, when turning towards experimental music, there is very little information.  While websites for specific composers exist, there is no single resource containing information on multiple composers.  If a teacher needs information, he/she must search many different websites, rarely finding the exact details wanted.  This is a frustration to those who wish to teach the experimental composers and their works to their students.

As a result, this website focuses on American experimental music from World War II to the present day.  Within this time frame, the website begins with John Cage, one of the first great 20th Century experimental composers, and progresses through the minimalist movement.  The information presented includes biographical material, important works, the influence of these composers on 20th and 21st century music, and lesson plans incorporating their work into curricular activities.  This website’s purpose is to provide educators with enough material to feel familiar with these experimental composers, and to aid them in introducing this music to the students who will eventually join in the progression of 21st century composition.







The Composers:



John Cage


Harry Partch


La Monte Young


Terry Riley


Steve Reich


Philip Glass


John Adams


      Lesson Plans:


          Arranged by Grade Level


          Arranged by Composer



        Reference List




This website is dedicated to Dr. J. William "Bill" King, for sharing his enthusiasm about experimental music with undergraduate students in Illinois and Michigan.

Special thanks to Michael Becker, Gail, Tom, and Matthew for assisting in the website's creation.

Any questions, concerns, or comments may be expressed by contacting the webmaster at www.plays88key@aol.com.  This website is meant to share information with other music educators; feel free to email the webmaster any additional references, lesson plans, or information to include on this site.