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Sound CommitmentsAvant-Garde Music and the Sixties$
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Robert Adlington

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336641.001.0001

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“Demolish Serious Culture!”

“Demolish Serious Culture!”

Henry Flynt and Workers World Party

(p.37) 2 “Demolish Serious Culture!”
Sound Commitments

Benjamin Piekut

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses traces the path taken by the maverick composer, philosopher and activist Henry Flynt in the early 1960s, from a position at the heart of New York's downtown avant‐garde community, to his radical repudiation of the avant‐garde under the influence of the Marxist‐Leninist Workers World Party (WWP). The WWP both shaped the rhetoric of Flynt's attacks on the avant‐garde, and (through its militant advocacy of civil rights) encouraged his growing interest in black popular music. Paradoxically, this was to lead to tension with the WWP itself, which shared the culturally conservative outlook of Soviet communism. Flynt, by contrast, viewed “street‐Negro music” as representing the vanguard of musical evolution through its resourceful use of electric instruments and recording and broadcasting technology.

Keywords:   Henry Flynt, Workers World Party, avant‐garde, popular music, popular music, technology, 1960s, communism

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