5 pieces of dangerous music | FEATURE

Morten Poulsen | PHOTO: Ambra Vernuccio

1. Charlotte Moorman

When it came to making music, the avant-garde American cellist and  performance artist Charlotte Moorman literally went above and beyond the call of duty. This video (at 8’25”) shows her floating down the main street of Little Rock suspended by helium balloons, playing her cello. Another project from 1967, Opera Sextronique, saw her performing movements on the cello in various states of nudity – resulting in her arrest, mid-performance, by three plain clothes policemen; she was later charged with indecent exposure.

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2. Yamantaka Eye’s Hanatarash

Yamantaka Eye‘s noise project Hanatarash was known for its dangerous live shows, the most notorious example being when the Japanese vocalist and visual artist drove an excavator through the venue at the back of the stage. Apparently audience members were required to fill out waivers before shows to prevent the band or the venue being sued in case of any potential danger caused to them.


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3. Dick Higgins’s Danger Music

Dick Higgins was American artist, composer, art theorist, poet, publisher, printmaker, who co-founded Fluxus, an artistic community which engaged in experimental performances. Among his contributions was Danger Music, a musical series from the early 1960s based on the idea that scores could endanger their performers or the audience who experience the performance. One of his scores instructs the performer to volunteer to have their spine removed. Another simply reads ‘Scream! Scream! Scream! Scream! Scream! Scream!’


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4.  Nam June Paik‘s Danger Music for Dick Higgins 

This Korean artist who operated at the intersection between music and ‘happenings’ was known for the audacity of his performances, sculptures and video work. Few of his works, however, were more audacious than his Danger Music for Dick Higgins, which directs the performer to ‘creep into the vagina of a living whale.’


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5. Between Music’s Aquasonic

Between Music is a Danish experimental music group whose performances take place entirely underwater. Their most famous work is Aquasonic, which features a range of unusual instruments that have been specially designed to be played underwater, including a custom-made percussion instrument that uses compressed air bubbles to create sound. The group’s performances are designed to explore the unique acoustic properties of underwater environments and to create an otherworldly, immersive experience for the audience.

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