Musics (magazine)

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Year founded1975
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon

Musics was a music-related magazine that was published from 1975 to 1979.[1]

In 1975 Derek Bailey,[2][3] Steve Beresford,[2][4] Max Boucher,[2] Paul Burwell,[2][5] Jack Cooke,[2] Peter Cusack,[2][6] Hugh Davies,[2] Mandy and Martin Davidson,[2] Richard Leigh,[2] Evan Parker,[2] John Russell,[2][7] David Toop,[2] Philipp Wachsmann[2] and Colin Wood[2] came together and agreed to produce a magazine.[6]

It was independently published and dedicated to the coverage of free improvised music.[8] Its need was suggested in a conversation between Evan Parker and Mandy and Martin Davidson.[2] The title was proposed by Paul Burwell at the first meeting in the Davidsons' house and unanimously adopted.

Musics, headquartered in London, has not been published since 1979.[1]

In 2016 the Ecstatic Peace Library published Musics: A British Magazine of Improvised Music & Art 1975–79,[9] a facsimile reprint of all issues of the magazine with a foreword by Steve Beresford, an introduction by David Toop, and afterword by Thurston Moore.[10][11][1][8] Eva Prinz and Thurston Moore hosted an exposition on the magazine and the book, covering it at the Red Gallery on Rivington Street in London in July of 2017.[12]

History and profile[edit]

Musics was launched with Issue No. 1 April/May 1975 with the banner "MUSICS an impromental experivisation arts magazine".[9] The journal was distributed in the UK and worldwide.

Mandy Davidson edited the first issue. Soon afterwards she moved to the US, and it was decided there would be no permanent editor. Max Boucher was appointed production editor. The 'editorial board' moved quickly towards becoming a collective. Each collective member contributed £4 to cover the costs of the first issue, which was run off on an A3 Gestetner duplicator. Issue no.2 was pasted up and printed by offset-litho. Over time the print run was increased and all income was ploughed back. Eventually it was possible to pay the printers (Islington Community Press) to make the plates and run off the copies. However collective members continued to do all the unpaid work of editing and preparing the camera ready artwork. No editors, writers, designers, or photographers were ever paid.

Limiting expenditure was only part of the financial model. From the beginning the Musics collective took the position that they would not accept paid advertising or grant aid, and the only income came from subscriptions and sales through (mostly alternative) bookshops. In addition there were associates in cities such as Bristol and Glasgow who sold copies through local outlets and at performances. In the final months there was an imminent financial crisis, but this was resolved through a successful jumble sale.

The policy of financial independence was copied from Libération, the French daily paper which had no paid ads. The two publications shared a vibrant pluralism, due to their freedom from the influence of advertisers or funding bodies. Musics and Libe were informally affiliated, as can be seen from occasional mutual references in archived copies. Both have a dynamic energy which radiates from the pages - in Musics perhaps almost reaching perfection. (Liberation later reverted to the standard model and it continues in name only.)

Musics came out six times a year, with occasional exceptions.[2]

Musics proposed the destruction of artificial boundaries and linked jazz, the music of composers such as John Cage, and indigenous and non-European musics. It was significant in the discussion of traditional Asian instruments (Clive Bell) as paths of equal value for the performance of musics, a term that discarded the use of the word "jazz".[12]

Early issue covered audio soundscape work, reviewing performance events from a cliff-top piano hurling festival or burning pianos, trap set improvisation against a rising sea tide that drowned cymbals and floated and retuned toms, or drummer Han Bennink's inclusion of saws and power tools in his percussion set. Electronics were explored as micro-environments at a level of equality with acoustic instruments in the precursors of glitch, such as the STEIM experiments with the cracklebox or the circuit board work of Hugh Davies (1943–2005), and an attack on the possibilities of brass instruments, notably by Steve Lacy and Evan Parker.[13]

Lindsay Cooper in her essay Women, Music, Feminism – notes in Musics #14 (October 1977)[14] analyzed how to overcome gender roles in music.

Tensions and unresolved contradictions accumulated. A small faction formed within the collective and soon un-democratically added to the artwork for the front cover of issue no.23 the words FINAL ISSUE.[15][2]


  1. ^ a b c Sperry-Fromm, Rob (1 November 2016). "Thurston Moore & John Zorn playing Rough Trade 40th Anniversary show in NYC". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 18 March 2019. From 1975 to 1979, London improvisers published the most innovative artists and musicians of their generation in the magazine Musics. Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Zorn, David Toop, John Russell, The Feminist Improvising Group, Bob Cobbing, ICP, Martin Davidson, Madelaine Davidson, Annabel Nicholson, Han Bennink, Eddie Prevost, David Cunningham, Steve Beresford among many, many, many others were contributors. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bell, Clive (Summer 1999). "History of the LMC". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2019. Quote1: Then, in April 1975, came Musics magazine, which Martin Davidson remembers as resulting from a phone conversation between himself, his wife Mandy and Evan Parker. The editorial board in summer 1975 was Bailey, Parker, Steve Beresford, Max Boucher, Paul Burwell, Jack Cooke, Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Mandy and Martin Davidson, Richard Leigh, John Russell, David Toop, Philipp Wachsmann and Colin Wood. I remember Colin Wood remarking that Musics was the first thing this crowd had found that they could all agree about. - Colin Wood in Musics No 4, October 1975.
    Quote2: Musics came out six times a year and ran for 23 issues. In its coverage of improvised and non-western music alongside performance art, it reflected the broad interests of a so-called 'second generation' of improvisers, and provided a convivial focus point. - David Toop, Resonance Vol 2, No 1, winter 1993
    Quote3: In 1980 factional struggle and good old-fashioned personal rowing resulted in several resignations from the LMC and the demise of Musics magazine. - Tony Wren, open letter to LMC, in December 1980 Newsletter
    CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Derek Bailey on Improvisation". Trebuchet magazine. 4 January 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019. Along with a number of other musicians, Bailey was a co-founder of Musics magazine in 1975. This was described as "an impromental experivisation arts magazine" and circulated through a network of like-minded record shops, arguably becoming one of the most significant jazz publications of the second half of the 1970s, and instrumental in the foundation of the London Musicians Collective. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "MUSICS: A British Magazine Of Improvised Music & Art 1975–79 by Steve Beresford, David Toop et al". The Wire. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019. Musics, released six times a year between 1975–79, reported on sound art, field recording, free improvisation, live electronics, composition and audio culture. Originally launched in spring 1975, its first tagline said “an impromental experivisation arts magazine”. The zine featured artists including Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Zorn, David Toop, John Russell, The Feminist Improvising Group, Bob Cobbing, ICP, Martin Davidson, Madelaine Davidson, Annabel Nicolson, Han Bennink, Eddie Prévost, David Cunningham, Steve Beresford and others. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Ellis, Dave (11 February 2007). "PAUL BURWELL – 1949 – 2007 A personal appreciation by Dave Ellis". Zooandlogical Times. Retrieved 18 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Kuntz, Henry (28 July 2007). "Peter Cusack biography". Free Jazz Journal. Retrieved 18 March 2019. In 1975 Derek Bailey, Steve Beresford, Max Boucher, Paul Burwell, Jack Cooke, Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Madelaine and Martin Davidson, Richard Leigh, Evan Parker, John Russell, David Toop, Philipp Wachsmann and Colin Wood formed the journal MUSICS, later described as "an impromental experivisation arts magazine". CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Russell, John (9 October 2016). "A little about Musics and the 70s with Thurston Moore". Retrieved 18 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b Greer, Robert (11 July 2017). "Thurston Moore on putting seminal 1970s zine 'Musics' back into print". Retrieved 18 March 2019. Musics celebrated the avant-garde composers and experimental musicians of the day. London’s very first zine for improvisers, it focussed around the activities of sound art, field recordings, free improvisation and live electronics in the 20th century. Drawing a line between composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen and music from indigenous cultures and free jazz, it was a super influential interdisciplinary journal published once every two months from 1975 to 1979. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ a b "Musics". Ecstatic Peace Library. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Musics: A British Magazine of Improvised Music and Art 1975 – 1979". RER Mega Corp. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019. This is what the people on the ground were thinking and writing about what they were doing when they were doing it. No interpretation, no revisionism. Active herein are David Toop, Steve Berseford, Annabel Nicholson, Evan Parker, Clive Bell, Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Lindsay Cooper, Eddie Prevost, Gavin Bryers, Tom Phillips, John Russell, David Cunningham, Peter Riley, Paul Burwell, Phil Wachsman, Frank Perry, Max Eastley and scores of others, covering improvisation, electronics, instrument modification, the music of other cultures, the worlds of John Cage, Stockhausen and Cardew, stretched notions of jazz, non-idiomatic improvisation, theory, diaries, reviews, comedy, interviews, articles on other musicians, diagrams, scores, manifestos, news, letters, drawings, photographs, listings, small ads. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Schwartz, Jeff (17 May 2018). Free Jazz: A Research and Information Guide. Routledge. ISBN 978-1138232679. Retrieved 18 March 2019. DIY typed and mimeographed magazine, with contributions from Maarten Altena, Han Bennink, Steve Beresford, Anthony Braxton, Andrea Centazzo, Martin Davidson, Barry Guy, Steve Lacy, Paul Lytton, Misha Mengelberg, Charles K. Noyes, John Oswald, Even Parker, Frank Perry, Eddie Prevost, John Russell, David Toop and Fred van Hove, among others. Many appear as both authors and subjects, there are numerous roundtables and forums, and artists frequently write letters to the editor to dispute reviews of their work. Beginning with English free improvisation, the scope widens to include free jazz and noise, while continuing to center on the post-jazz free improvisation growing out of the Company. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ MUSICS: A British Magazine of Improvised Music and Art 1975-1979. Ecstatic Peace Library. 2016. ISBN 978-0997285055.
  13. ^ "MUSICS No. 14". Ecstatic Peace Library. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "MUSICS No. 23". Ecstatic Peace Library. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)