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Psychedelia and its high other in 1960s San Francisco

Hill, Sarah ORCID: 2011. Psychedelia and its high other in 1960s San Francisco. Presented at: 7th International Conference on Music Since 1900 / Lancaster University Music Analysis Conference (LancMAC), Lancaster, UK, 28-31 July 2011.

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There is an efficient historical narrative that traces the psychedelic ‘moment’ in San Francisco back to the exploration of expanded consciousness as celebrated by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters at the Acid Tests. The house band for the Acid Tests, the Warlocks – later the Grateful Dead – certainly became a byword for psychological liberation, though the many musical strands (folk, blues, bluegrass) which evolved into the contemporary local psychedelic rock were initially somewhat less embroidered. The enormity of the psychedelic moment has overshadowed the other contemporary local musical projects in those efficient historical narratives, however. Minimalism, for example, represents one point on the musical ley line between 'art' and 'pop' in San Francisco: Terry Riley's In C coincided with the psychedelic moment; Steve Reich's friendship with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead has provided musical as well as personal insights into the nature of 'influence'; and John Adams' The Dharma at Big Sur evokes the 'shock of recognition' of geographical as well as sonic landscapes. It is my intention in this paper to address the interactions of the psychedelic subculture in San Francisco with the contemporary local ‘art music’ community, from the underground (San Francisco Tape Music Center) to the mainstream (The San Francisco Ballet). In so doing I hope to trace the indelible imprint of the 'low' on its 'high other', and to explore the mini seismic musical events in 1960s San Francisco which have produced four decades of aftershocks in the cultural life of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
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Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 02:32

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