About the MAG Project

The Musical Avant-Gardes Project (MAG Project for short) is a multivalent, web-based resource designed to serve researchers, teachers, students, and practitioners of global avant-garde performed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition to providing research resources such as bibliographies, discographies, links to archival sources, digitized scores, sound recordings, photographs, and other documentation pertaining to musical avant-garde communities, this site is a source of new and developing research on the techniques, practices, and social connections that have shaped musical avant-gardes throughout history and in the contemporary world. The site attempts to answer questions of what “avant-garde” and “avant-garde music” have meant to different people in different times and places through interdisciplinary social network maps that demonstrate interconnections between musicians, artists, writers, and philosophers, as well as global network maps that shed light on patterns of cultural exchange. Moreover, the site serves not only as a forum for the presentation of new research on musical avant-gardes in the form of articles, guest blog posts, podcasts, and discussion boards, but also as a means of facilitating connections and collaborations between people working in and on avant-garde music through directories of scholars, musicians, and professional organizations, and calendars of avant-garde events.

Although several websites exist that provide links to resources on avant-garde music or culture writ-large, the MAG Project is the first to attempt to create a sense of community around the research, teaching, and learning of avant-garde musical cultures, while also providing materials for and presentations of new research on musical avant-gardes in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Because many of the sites already devoted to the avant-garde focus on European or American modernism, this project breaks new ground by facilitating the study of avant-garde musical cultures from around the world while bringing global scholars in dialogue. In addition, many digital, online projects that address avant-garde artforms focus on research at the expense of teaching. By creating and presenting useful teaching tools for use in and beyond K-12 and college classrooms such as syllabi, sample assignments and lessons, podcasts and articles, timelines, learning games, and digitized scores and recordings, this project seeks to demystify avant-garde music through generating interest about avant-garde musical cultures for a broad, general public. Unlike many digital music history projects, this site also aims to bring scholars, performers, and composers of avant-garde musics into conversation by providing calendars of events as well as practical advice for engaging with and performing these repertoires.

The MAG Project aims to demonstrate the continuing social relevance that studying avant-garde musical repertoires and communities holds. In addition to examining globalization, patterns of cultural exchange and appropriation, and the role that avant-garde musics and musicians have played in global and national political movements and how they have responded to violent or tragic events, this project addresses social inequality by considering how colonialism, race, class, gender, and sexuality have shaped or been shaped by avant-garde musical experiences. In this way the MAG Project underlines the importance of the collection, digitization, study, teaching, and performance of avant-garde music for cultivating positive notions of global citizenship.