Philip Corner


Born in 1933 in New York (United-States), where he lives and works

Made by underhanded notes (Behind my Back) is a score for barrel organ, hand-made by Philip Corner. The work’s title suggests a conspiracy of musical notes, coming together “behind the composer’s back”, without his intervention, though a more metaphorical interpretation is also hinted at. Corner’s scores often leave ample scope for free interpretation by musicians or performers, in the spirit of the Fluxus movement, with which he was involved in the 1960s. Here, the work is designed to be read by a machine: the barrel organ’s mechanism transforms a perforated, folded card strip into musical notes. We sense that the perforations may have been incorporated, or appeared at random, when the piece was written. The resulting sound is a fortuitous if random combination of two elements: a calligraphy of “secret” or accidental perforations, and the implacable rigour of the barrel organ’s mechanism.




© Frank English Courtesy Conner Family Trust, San Francisco and Paula Cooper Gallery, New Yor

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