Talk:Conlon Nancarrow

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Children of Nancarrow[edit]

I found out about Nancarrow only fairly recently, from a documentary on BBC Radio 3's 'Here and Now' program, about people who were influenced by him. I thought it might make a good link as it's available as a free download: 18:57, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks - I've added that link. It's interesting, relevant and free. Graham87 12:20, 10 June 2007 (UTC)


Somebody changed the references to him becoming well known only in the 80s, to refs that he became well known in the 60s. As far as I know, this isn't true, so I've changed it back. There was, it seems, an LP of his music released in the late 60s, but nobody paid much attention to it - it was only when he went back to the US in the early 80s and when Ligeti discovered his music (also in the 80s) that people paid much attention to him as far as I know. If somebody else knows better, fair enough, but if it's going to be changed back to 60s again, some reasoning for doing so would be nice. --Camembert

The two comments below [ABOVE] are both correct. Nancarrow started getting some underground attention in 1976 (the 1969 recording wasn't very well recorded, and quickly went out of print) when Charles Amirkhanian and Peter Garland started documenting his work. Nancarrow's name didn't appear in any music encyclopedia until around 1986. - Kyle Gann, 6.24.05
He was a hot topic among composers in the early 1980s--we spent a lot of time on him in composition seminars, when I was in grad school--and my 1980 Grove does have a decent article on him. You are right that he was barely noticed before the late 70s though. By the way the current Grove article (longer than the 1980 article) mentions that he was already in the Communist Party when he went to Spain, but doesn't give a join date. Antandrus (talk) 23:49, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I wrote the current Grove entry, but Conlon never told me what year he joined - his memory for that kind of thing wasn't very good, but he was already involved in concerts for the Communist Party before he went, and it was the Communists who recruited the Lincoln Brigade. Funny, I remember reading in the mid-80s that he wasn't yet included in any music dictionaries, but it obviously wasn't true. KG

I've re-inserted the 60's reference. Columbia not only released and distributed an entire album (anyone know of a source for sales info.?), but more importantly, included a short excerpt from it (3 minutes or so) on an avant garde sampler 8" LP which they included with one of the first two Walter Carlos Bach albums (either Switched On Bach or Well Tempered Sythesizer). The sampler included in addition to Nancarrow, S. Reich, T. Riley, H. Partch, and, IIRC, Lasry-Baschet. While I can't vouch for a substantial volume of popular sales, the albums ended up, at least, in many college music libraries. Silverlake Bodhisattva 19:37, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Nothing important, but if it's the same "New Music" Columbia Masterworks sampler that came with my Walter Carlos LP, it's 7", not 8". StavinChain (talk) 14:42, 28 December 2010 (UTC)


With all due respect and for what it's worth, I feel the long closing quote from Carlos Sandoval, with its slightly mystifying digression on Bach and ethnic musics, is out of place here. It would almost go better into the Carlos Sandoval article as an example of his thought; it certainly doesn't represent any type of concensus on Nancarrow, and is totally idiosyncratic. Curiously, it was added the same day that someone by the nom-de-wiki of Sandome initiated the Carlos Sandoval article. Kylegann 21:24, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

It does seem a bit overwhelming and out-of-context. Perhaps we could excise the second and third paragraphs, and retain the first, fourth and fifth? I'm particularly fond of the closing bit. Antandrus (talk) 21:52, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Not sure I quite get the fourth myself, and I could wish for grammatical correctness in the admittedly charming fifth; but sure, omission of the second and third would certainly help. Kylegann 13:08, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
There, took out the third 'graph. I sort of see the point of the second, but won't argue if someone else deletes it. Kylegann 14:06, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
I thank you guys for your discussion and corrections. My quote looks now better than ever... you can even delete more paragraphs, no problem. With all respect, I took out all the "American" idiosyncratic tonality of the article (Since Mexico and other countries in the American Continent still are American countries with different presidents as Bush). I remember Ligeti's good comments on Gann´s book, no matter if he refuses to write a note (for the Spanish translation I made) in it (never published, by the way): "too American" he said (Also using "American"... mmhh). I would not like this to happen in this article and I hope you and other readers will share this feeling. I took out also some other references to other musicians that are not relevant in this article: we can testify thousend arrangements and even sound installations, MIDI sequences with electronic sounds and even video-dance on Nancarrow. I added the Paul Sacher foundation and Jurgen and Wolfgang note, just as actual references for a "still living-performable" Nancarrow. Take them out if you feel like it, but I think the P. Sacher reference could be important to the reader. I took out the "obscurity" character describing Nancarrow. Sounds pejorative to me. And yes, Kyle: I added my entry the same day I paste my quote. Good finding! sandome 02:05, 06.04.2006 and beyond...


hi. nice article! Nancarrow is amazing & this was an interesting read. peace – ishwar  (speak) 07:51, 2005 August 13 (UTC)


I just rearranged the page so that the oldest threads are at the top and the newest at the bottom. Hyacinth 11:13, 7 March 2006 (UTC)


Hi, Hyacinth - I won't change it, but I have to say I find the unqualified reference to prolation canons misleading. A prolation canon was a canon in which note values were reinterpreted according to the different lines being in different meters, or prolations. Prolation affected the length of the longer note values, but not the shorter ones. It is possible for a prolation canon to be a tempo canon (and there are uncharacteristic examples in Ciconia and josquin), but not usual; Ockeghem's Missa Prolationem is a series of prolation canons, each of which ceases to be a tempo canon once quicker note values enter. The prolation canon is an important predecessor to Nancarrow's work, but there is still a technical distinction between prolation canon and tempo canon, just as there is a distinction between prolation and meter. Cheers, Kylegann 13:36, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


I don't understand why this page has become part of WikiProject Texas when Nancarrow was born on the Arkansas side of Texarkana. Kylegann 20:20, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I took out the WikiProject Texas reference. Nancarrow never lived in Texas.Kylegann 04:34, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

False Statement[edit]

"Upon his return, he learned that his Brigade colleagues were being denied their U.S.A. passports as punishment for their political preferences."

This statement is not true. Plenty of the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade returned to the United States one of them is here on Wikipedia, Samuel Krafsur and he was a Soviet agent! Since I'm sure that my assertion will be attacked, please verify this statement with a reiable soure. Dwain 16:26, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

No one says that the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade weren't allowed to return to the U.S. Once here, when they tried to leave again - according to what Conlon told me - they weren't allowed to get passports for travel.Kylegann 08:48, 18 October 2006 (UTC)


I have just done a mild rewrite to try to get some of the more egregious passages into workable English (since I suspect much of the article was originally in another language). In the process I have had to guess a few times about what was meant; if anyone sees something I have gotten wrong please fix it. Nancarrow deserves it! --Wspencer11 (talk to me...) 17:25, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Mexican or not?[edit]

Ok, I'm not a good example of a Mexican patriot, but I would insist, for the health of this article, in considering Nancarrow as a Mexican composer. My reasons: 1. He choose the Nationality, not us. 2. With Lazaro Cárdenas our country had an incredible, possitive, political tradition in hosting political persecuted people, and the best example (just to mention the timeframe in which Nancarrow choosed Mexico) are all the persecuted Spanish Republicans, by the way, comrads and much of them friends of Conlon. (He was actually not so "isolated", living in "obscurity"). This people never dennied their Mexican citizenship, indeed, they were actually honored and greatfull to have it. This fact is documented and this article should be consecuent with it. 4. The U.S. reject Nancarrow, not Mexico. (Still, the political situation in te U.S. is not so different. The U.S. Government just uses different words and methods). Remember that Nancarrow refuses to sign a relatively recent paper saying that he was "foolish blah-blah" as a member of the Communist Party. These kind of beauties still exist in the U.S.! and in his time Nancarrow refuses to sign them, even in charge of his heath. 5. Nancarrow made the most of his work as a legal Mexican citizen, not as Legal U.S. Citizen. 6. One thing is that the first recognitions for the composer were originated in the United States, and another is calling Nancarrow an "American" composer because of this. Sandome 19:52, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Nationality/ethnicity in some of these cases gets to be so much of a problem that it should probably just be ignored and replaced with "born here, lived there," or "born a citizen of this country, became a citizen of that country..." I'd look at an article on a person like Alfred Hitchcock as an example. He's called a British director, but it's pointed that he worked in the U.S. and applied for citizenship. Nancarrow's case is more politically charged though, and I'd lean more to actually calling him a Mexican composer, born in the U.S. Because of the bitter politics involved, I suspect he would not object to this. On the other hand, he probably was not very attached to any one nationality. The Grove entry says 'American composer': "(b Texarkana, AR, 27 Oct 1912; d Mexico City, 10 Aug 1997). American composer." implying the U.S. (as it does with other U.S. composers), but not explicitly stating it... Perhaps "North American composer" would be a compromise? My vote would be for something like "U.S.-born composer who worked for most of his life in Mexico, where he took up citizenship." Rizzleboffin 20:46, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
On further consideration, for what it's worth: Isang Yun is probably an example closer to Nancarrow than Hitchcock. Like Nancarrow, Yun was exiled from his native country (South Korea) for political reasons, lived in Germany and took up German citizenship. And the Wiki article calls Yun a "Korean composer who spent most of his creative career in Germany," not a "German composer." Rizzleboffin 22:16, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree that calling Nancarrow a Mexican composer, like calling Isang Yun a German composer, is misleading, and I think it damages the credibility of the article. I don't know what "The U.S. reject Nancarrow" means, or is intended to connote. I don't see that the patent shortcomings of the U.S. Government have any bearing on the musicological question whatever, as if we could or should punish imperialism by reassigning artists' nationalities. But I gather that to revert again would just lead to a reversion war, so I leave the restoration of common sense here to others. Kylegann 13:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Nancarrow is generally considered a Mexican composer, even here at Wikipedia. See Bottom of the article. Usually, modern musicological studies do consider politics and history as important factors to evaluate and analize the work of a composer, even at musical levels. Nancarrow can be considered as U.S. composer yes, because he does pertain to an U.S. experimental tradition. But also we can consider Nancarrow as a part of a mexican experimental tradition along with Carrillo and Novaro (both inserted in microtonalism and construction and adaptation of keyboard instruments). Ok, whatever. About other cases, like Hitchcock's... this would lead to an endless and useless discussion, see Varese article, for example. Wikipedia is not so consistent here. In the article he is catalogued as either French, American and French American composer. If you dont like Nancarrow just as a Mexican composer, lets find a solution. For sure saying just "American" is not quite true, nor saying just "Mexican"... and "Mexican-American" composer would be incorrect because he was indeed not a chicano composer :-). I like the suggestion "U.S.-born composer who worked for most of his life in Mexico, where he took up citizenship." And the keywords for this article should be edited in such a way people looking either for "American composers" and "Mexican composers" can find Nancarrow. I dont know how to do this.Sandome 17:48, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I find myself agreeing more with Kylegann on this, Sandome. However, I'm also leery of starting a revert-war over an issue like this, since I'm not a regular editor at this article. Mexico deserves all due credit for providing Nancarrow a home, and any influence Mexico had on Nancarrow, or vice-versa, certainly deserves mentioning. But he remained U.S. born-and-bred, and I don't think anyone would deny his music reflects that right to the end. I think the Isang Yun example is most apt-- Political questions aside, Nancarrow, like Yun, remained concerned with his native musical culture all his life. Calling him a "Mexican composer" would be misleading. Also, Nancarrow's political leanings and difficulties with the government are certainly not unknown in the history of U.S. arts and culture... or those of any country, for that matter. Rizzleboffin 20:51, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I originally included him in the list of Arkansas musicians because Arkansas is proud of his works as well. I see no reason why he cannot be associated with the place he was born, the place he spent most of his life, or other places that had a major influence on who he was. This should not be a nationalistic thing. He had connections and there should be no problem referencing them all and no reason he cannot be considered American, Mexican, and Arkansan. One of Arkansas Congressmen was born in Oregon and serves in Arkansas...he is "from" both Oregon and Arkansas in different contexts. That is just a fact. 15:29, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Composer project review[edit]

I've reviewed this article as part of the Composers project review of its B-class articles. This is a B-class article, but it is weak in its biographic and critical aspects. My full review is on the comments page; questions and comments should be left here or on my talk page. Magic♪piano 02:36, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

dating error?[edit]

"Studies for Player Piano The original 1750 Arch recordings reissued" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:53, 26 April 2010

1750 Arch is an address; it's 1750 Arch Street, Berkeley, California. They made recordings, and I think there may have been a performance space there too. Antandrus (talk) 13:55, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
What dating? Hyacinth (talk) 06:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm presuming the anon thought that "1750" was a year (e.g. a typo for "1950" or something). Antandrus (talk) 02:43, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

no english books, articles?[edit]

There is an extensive bibliography on N. on German wikipedia (sadly german language stuff only).--Radh (talk) 06:03, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Chronological error[edit]

H'mmm...something chronologically wrong here...or just simple human error. Here's a section from Biography paragraphs 2 & 3:

"After spending time in New York City in 1940, Nancarrow moved to Mexico to escape the harassment visited upon former Communist Party members. Upon his first subsequent return to the U.S., in 1981"

And here's a section from paragraph 6:

"Nancarrow traveled to New York City in 1947"

So...was his first subsequent return to the U. S., after moving to Mexico, in 1947 or in 1981? Or did someone misunderstand or mistype "first subsequent"? Or are they both wrong? I admit I don't know...can someone clear this up? StavinChain (talk) 14:37, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

He left the USA in 1940, returned only for a visit in 1947, it seems.--Radh (talk) 17:07, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Added Citations and Reliable Sources[edit]

I added the additional source for his death date, fixed the dead link, and changed the bit about Nancarrow's interest in electronic music. In the Other Minds interview I cited he doesn't say whether writing electronic music was ever a possibility for him or not. He says that a) he had been interested in it; b) by the time of the interview (1977) he claimed the piano rolls gave him more temporal control than electronic music could have; c) he didn't think electronic musicians seemed interested in temporal issues; and d) some way of combining piano rolls with all the timbral possibilities electronic music offered would be "the ultimate" way of composing for him. Since only a and b above are relevant to that paragraph, that's what I included. The only other resources I know that would include that kind of detail of Nancarrow's life are Gann's book-- which I don't currently have access to-- and James Greeson's 5 hour interview with Nancarrow (archived at the University of Arkansas)-- which I don't have time to listen to at the moment.

To any Wikipedians-- these changes should clear up the warning about needing "additional citations for verification". I suppose I could go through and add footnotes after each sentence, but that seems burdensome and unnecessarily distracting for an uncontroversial article like this one. -Jonathan Wilkes — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:09, 2 November 2013 (UTC)