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Avant-Garde Music

Avant-garde, a French phrase meaning "vanguard" or (literally, "advance guard"), describes movements or individuals at the forefront of innovation and experimentation in their fields. Implicit in the term are the rejection of the status quo, a critique of popular convention and taste, and a striving for originality that can be intentionally provocative or alienating. There is considerable academic debate about the origins of its application to the arts, but in popular understanding, it usually refers to anything that general audiences might consider outrageous, such as Erik Satie's 1893 Vexations, which instructs the performer to play a theme 840 times, or Pauline Oliveros' 1964 Duo, scored for accordion and bandoneon players riding a seesaw, with optional mynah bird obbligato. The most frequently cited example of Avant-Garde music is John Cage's 4'33" (1952).