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date: 22 November 2019

Downtown (New York City)locked

  • Caroline Polk O’meara


(New York City)

A collection of Manhattan neighborhoods south of 14th Street, several of which—including Greenwich Village, SoHo, and the Lower East Side—have fostered musical movements in the post-war era. The terms “downtown music” and “music downtown” have been used to refer to different genres—including popular, jazz, avant-garde, and concert music, among others—but they also often indicate the ways such categories have become increasingly blurred since the 1970s.

Urban folk music, originating in Greenwich Village and featuring artists such as Bob Dylan and the Holy Modal Rounders, was the first distinctly Downtown musical movement of the post-war era. By the late 1960s young musicians and artists of all types were priced out of the Village and began moving east, creating new music and arts communities. During this period the counterculture in New York found its home in the tenements of the Lower East Side.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, the variability of Manhattan’s real estate market shifted the locus of the avant-garde to the manufacturing lofts of SoHo. Composers, including Carla Bley, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk, held events in loft spaces and venues such as Phill Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation (established ...

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