Anthony Braxton – Composition 96

Written in Woodstock between August 1979 and September 1980 and dedicated to Stockhausen, Composition 96 is a piece for orchestra and four slide projectors intended, says Braxton, "to celebrate the composite inter-relationship between dynamic symbolism and positive world change." 

Composition 96 is, says Anthony Braxton, a key work in his music's evolution. This is true both on the structural level, where 96 is "a point of definition" in his development of "multiple line musics"; and on the spiritual or "vibrational" (to use Braxton's term) level where it is the second in his series of "ritual and ceremonial" pieces in which he employs "correspondance logics" to explore music's links with colour, shape, symbol, gesture, astrology and numerology. The visual components of Composition 96 are based on "12 symbols from various world culture religions and/or mystical teachings" (the remaining 4 symbols being created by various combinations of the original 12). 


The Composers and Improvisors Orchestra are:

Denny Goodhew / alto sax
Deborah De Loria / bass
Scott Weaver / bass
Ray Downey / bass clarinet
Marlene Weaver / bassoon
Marjorie Parbington / cello
Page Smith-Weaver / cello
Scott Threlkold / cello
Paul Pearse / clarinet
Bill Smith / clarinet
Bob Davis / english horn
Denise Pool / flute
Rebecca Morgan / flute
Nancy Hargerud / flute
Richard Reed / french horn
Motter Dean / harp
Aileen Munger / oboe
Lauurri Uhlig / oboe
Ed Hartman / percussion
Matt Kocmieroski / percussion
Julian Priester / trombone
Scott Reeves / trombone
Dave Scott / trumpet
James Knapp / trumpet
Rick Bynes / tuba
Beatrice Dolf, Betty Agent, Jean Word, Sam Williams / viola
Jeannine Davis, Julian Smedley, Libby Poole, Mathew Pederson, Becky Liverzey, Jeroen Van Tyn, Mary Jacobson, Sandra Guy / violin


Written for 37-piece orchestra and four slide projectors by Anthony Braxton. Recorded by the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra at the Cornish Institute, Seattle, Washington, May 30, 1981 and dedicated to the master composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.  Conducted by Anthony Braxton. Published by Synthesis Music. Produced by Leo Feigin. Remastered by Alan Mosley.

Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC. Full liner notes included in download as PDF.  


1. Composition 196 - 55:36



Anthony Braxton

The development of Braxton's unique musical language began as an exploration of rhythms and textures, which he combined with techniques gained from experimental composition, from graphic notation to serialism all the way to multimedia presentation. In the interim, he can look back on and celebrate over four decades of kaleidoscopic output: recordings, compositions, theoretical works and university teaching appointments.

Braxton has remained a controversial figure among musicians and critics, since he moves with complete autonomy between diverse musical worlds and has absorbed the influences of John Coltrane, Paul Desmond and Eric Dolphy with equal enthusiasm as those of John Cage or Karlheinz Stockhausen. The latter preoccupations have led to plenty of criticism from traditionalists. There is however zero cause for doubt regarding the originality and rich world of ideas that Braxton’s output represents. He has managed in his resourceful way to reconcile the intuitive aspects of free jazz with the formal and harmonic methods of contemporary classical music. Braxton has composed works for orchestra and operas – he has experimented with unusual line-ups, writing for and performing with 100 tubas or four orchestras where it suits his fancy. He has created myriad complex works that he uses as jumping off points for improvisations, deconstructions and remixes.