REVIEW: Jozef Cseres | HIS VOICE

“You Nakai is a performer, writer, and musicologist whose interests in all areas include intermedial overlaps and the processual and ephemeral aspects of artistic communication, with an emphasis on the American music and dance avant-garde. He has taught and researched at the University of Tokyo, Kyoto State University, and New York University, where he teaches courses such as “other musics,” “history of fake Western music,” “archi-choreography,” “archaeology of influence,” and “experimental sounds for pets.” The mere offering of these competencies reveals that David Tudor’s interdisciplinary and processual art has found itself in the reflective crosshairs of a vocational performer. And indeed, Nakai’s monograph, at 753 pages (!), is a superlative scholarly achievement. […] Indeed, it is remarkable that Nakai has managed this alone, since the scale and nature of Tudor’s colossal oeuvre rather calls for a team-based interdisciplinary approach.” (Original in Czech)

REVIEW: Ezra J. Teboul | Computer Music Journal

“Nakai’s book is monumental in the detail with which it ruthlessly rewrites the dissertation to thread a meticulous tracing of the development of the majority of Tudor’s projects, systems, and recordings, into an awe-inspiring assessment of the humor, mystery, and earnest weirdness with which Tudor operated.
Nakai elucidates the complex, ad hoc development of each piece, and in doing so achieves the rare elucidation of technical or physical decisions as a source of audible results. As an in-depth analysis of the majority of Tudor’s pieces, the primary accomplishment of the book, therefore, is to make what Tudor left behind legible to the investigator and reader. It can be considered a shift, taking a musicological focus from sound, notation, and recordings, and extending it to technical objects (Simondon 2016) and their associated abstractions (diagrams, schematics, patching notes, etc.). It can also be considered a recontextualization of the object of study, acknowledging the deep musicality inherent in those technical objects and abstractions. I leave this discussion to future publications, but regardless of future discussion, the grace with which Nakai operates this shift shines as a reference to which future scholarship on Tudor and the music “implicit” in technology (Collins 2007) will inevitably and necessarily be compared. That Nakai managed to do this without Tudor present to answer further questions adds to the shining achievement at hand, and holds promise for other research on artists whose technical legacy remains to be investigated post-mortem, such as that of Tudor’s close friend Pauline Oliveros. It will also stand as, more generally, an epistemological tour de force, making the highly idiosyncratic technicality of Tudor’s legacy accessible to humanists.”

REVIEW: Michael Rosenstein | Point of Departure

“While the sounds of the source tapes are integral, it is the way that Tudor teases timbral shadings and textural densities out of his setup that stand out. Weaving together the multi-channel threads of input and output, the pieces develop in complex and constantly morphing layers. At the start of “Take 1,” the chatter of Tudor and his assistants sets the stage as low rumbles and thrumming oscillations accrue, gradually shot through with high-pitched squeals and glissandos between quavering pitches. At times, waves of feedback waft through, which Tudor lets build and then breaks before it overwhelms the sound field. It’s that contemplative control and mutable outcomes that make for such exhilarating results. “Take 2,” on the second side of the LP, delivers an alternate version that works with the same components, allowing one to hear Tudor work through the sonic palette for equally distinctive results. […] You Nakai provides insightful, detailed background, archival photographs, and information about Tudor’s setups which provide an invaluable reference.”

REVIEW: D. L. Patterson | CHOICE

“It is not unusual to have scholarly books written about the output of one composer, but it is rare to find one of such length written with such passion and with such complete and extensive information. Nakai (University of Tokyo, Japan)—who is a remarkable musician and “out-of-the-box” thinker—uses primary sources from the David Tudor Papers housed at the Getty Research Institute to take the reader through the many stages of creativity Tudor explored in his life. Filling the book with illustrations of various kinds, photos, charts, graphs, photocopies of original documents, and a plethora of schematics, Nakai tries to look inside Tudor’s mind and let the reader understand his thinking and musical development. One is presented with a creative thinker who is not just a pianist/organist, not just a composer, but also an electronics genius and an experimenter with sounds that had not previously been used in the context of classical music. Each chapter stands on its own and covers one specific type of compositional “instrument” at a time. Thoroughly annotated throughout and with extensive appendixes, this book will convince the reader that Tudor’s life was rich indeed.”

–D. L. Patterson, emeritus, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.

REVIEW: Leah Kardos | The Wire

“The narrative is pieced together from painstaking archival research, interviews with Tudor’s associates, and through Nakai’s own music making experiments. By exploring practical ways of discovering and knowing alongside his archival and analytical research, the author created for himself the “hunting and testing grounds” for the ideas he elaborates and interrogates in the book. Nakai’s style is clear, elegant and refreshingly free of academic jargon and intellectual posturing. Anyone can pick this book up and become engrossed, from the level of the casual and curious all the way to postgraduate researchers and musicologists.”

REVIEW: Geeta Dayal | 4Columns

“Throughout the book, Nakai demystifies Tudor and his process. Electronic music of the past is often portrayed in a dreamy, magical light—a hazy historical landscape filled with misty, otherworldly sounds. But while the music of a bygone era may seem ineffable, it is not inaccessible. Listening to it can be a glorious and transcendent experience, but its inner workings can be made legible. Writers, historians, and researchers can help make those sounds understandable to the wider audience by exploring hidden meanings and developing a vocabulary to explain them more fully. Making the past legible empowers us. These composers weren’t perfect, omniscient geniuses. While there will never be another David Tudor, shedding light on his creative process makes one think, ‘Maybe I could do something like that, too.'”

REVIEW: Tom Djll | goodreads

“On page 85 at the moment. At this point, words are inadequate to express my admiration for You Nakai’s achievement with this book, and the depth of its effect on my understanding of not just its subject (Tudor) but the entire world of postwar avant-gardeism. […] About every 15 pages I have to put the book down and try to assimilate the revelations that “Reminded…” dishes out, and then get out other books on Cage and Stockhausen, and recordings, and dig the new perspectives Nakai’s research and insight have bestowed upon them. And this is still chapter one I’m talking about!”