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Center for Contemporary Music Archives

Oakland CA: Mills College

1. Introduction to the Collection

This collection contains tapes of concerts, interviews, and events recorded at Mills College and a relatively few other venues from the 1950s to the present. There are also some tapes from the ONCE Group Collection from Ann Arbor and those donated by various visiting artists over the years. We also hold the Pauline Oliveros and Ramon Sender tape archives.

The Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College maintains the collection. Maggi Payne is the transfer archivist, John Bischoff maintains the database.

2. Overview of the Holdings in the Collection

Center for Contemporary Music Archives

Where the collection is housed
Mills College Music Building.

Number of works in the collection
More than 6000.

Range of years of composition / performance
1950s to present.

Formats found in the collection
1/4-inch and 1/2-inch analog; PCM F1 format on Betamax; cassette; DAT; CD.

General state of the collection
Varies from excellent to poor.

Works recovered and archived
ca. 10% of the collection (in progress).

3. Artistic and Cultural Importance of the Collection

In many instances these tapes are the only known sources of important performances of contemporary experimental composers, and include interviews with Morton Feldman, Morton Subotnick, John Cage, David Tudor, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and performances of works by Robert Ashley, David Behrman, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lou Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Alvin Lucier, Darius Milhaud, Pauline Oliveros, Ramon Sender, Morton Subotnick, Pandit Pran Nath, Harry Partch, Terry Riley, Anthony Braxton, Paul DeMarinis, Maryanne Amacher, Joan La Barbara, and many others. In many instances the composers are also the performers. This archive represents the American West Coast Experimental tradition, including the earliest music compositions using the Buchla Synthesizer. The focus is on experimentalists, including electronic music, both for fixed media and live performance.

4. Recovery / Archival Activities

178 CDs of materials from the older archives (prior to 2000) have been transferred. All concerts and events from 2000 on have been archived by students. Funding is being sought to enable transfer of more works.

Transfers using an MCI 1/4-inch analog machine and Sonic Solutions DAW started in 1998 for analog tapes. A Sony PCM R-500 DAT machine is used for DAT tape transfers. Three CDs are made: one for the library vaults, one for access in the library, and one for the CCM archives. Any new transfers will conform to current archival standards and include BWF stored as data in addition to the audio CDs. Difficulties include needing to replace failing splicing tape, at times little or no labeling on the tapes or boxes, mislabeled boxes and reels, no concert programs for performer information, etc. Fortunately the DAT tapes, a major concern, have been playable so far, although only a limited number have been transferred. They are the highest priority at present.

5. Financial, Human and Institutional Resources

Financial support for the project was made available by the following institutions. We are seeking further funding from outside sources to continue this project.

Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation (1998–99)
The mission of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation is to protect and improve the quality of life through support of programs in the environment, human health, education and the arts.

NARAS (1999–2001)
Preserving America’s rich cultural legacy. The GRAMMY Foundation’s archiving and preservation initiatives are designed to raise public awareness of the urgent need to preserve our nation’s recorded sound legacy.

The principal people, departments and institutions involved in the project are:

Project Managers: Maggi Payne and John Bischoff

Production and Technical Team: Maggi Payne, Transfer Archivist; John Bischoff, Database Management; Graduate students in charge of recording concerts and events have archived concerts/events from 2000 onwards.

Institutional Support: Mills College

6. Dissemination of and Access to the Collection

CDs of works that have been transferred are available to the public in the Mills College library.

The project aims to serve students, faculty, researchers, and publishers (with permission of the composers).

Concordia University / Université Concordia

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