Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

MUSIC: Michael Nyman - Decay Music

Label: Obscure

Year: 1976

Below is an edited text taken from Saturn Archives. We recommend subscribing to there YouTube channel.


From 1968 to 1976, Michael Nyman worked as a music critic for various magazines. He studied 16th and 17th c. baroque music in the mid-1960s, composing only a handful of musical pieces prior to ‘Decay Music’ in 1976, the real starting point of his carreer as a composer.

 ‘1-100’ is an auto-generative composition for piano. The track is played at half the speed it was recorded. It was written for Peter Greenaway's film of the same title but rejected because it was too long. It was inspired by Frederic Rzewski's Les Moutons de Panurge, which Nyman often played with the Scratch Orchestra.

 ‘Bell Set No.1’ is a pseudo-gamelan composition built from metallophones, ie: bells, triangle, gongs, cymbals and tam-tam. It is a system piece based on the percussions’ sharp attack and slow decay, alternatively enhancing each. It works perfectly as a sound installation devoid of progression or change, without beginning nor end.

Plato's HouseMusicComment