Music for Young Players
A series of pieces from the 1960's and 70's from the British Music Collection curated by Duncan Chapman 
UE promotional record sent to schools

Dashing Away by Alan Brett is an example of a type of "code score". The effect of the piece is created by the addition of simple elements.

Alan Brett was also active in the Scratch Orchestra (along with several other composers who have pieces in this series). This is one of the text scores he made during this period.

The notation of Dashing Away has a strong resemblance to Stockhausen's "Plus/Minus" notation. This is part of Stockhausen's Spiral from 1968

Pre-Mediaeval Metrics : Gavin Bryars. Another piece in the BMIC collection that uses a very similar method of composition. Two sounds, one long one short.

The Music For Young Players pieces were intended to be a performance repertoire. Elis Pehkonen (composer of "My Cats") had a percussion ensemble at Cirencester school (he succeeded Peter Maxwell Davies) that toured extensively in the UK,  Europe and Australia and even appeared on Blue Peter. 
Aquarelle, Cirencester Percussion Ensemble 1970

Many of the pieces have special notations for extended effects. This is from the instruction page for EM by Vic Hoyland

Part of Vic Hoylands "EM"

Several of these pieces are in the form of games. Compositions in the form of games have long been a popular and accessible way of engaging young people in the creation of new music.

This game is from Trevor Wishart's "Sounds Fun" also in the BMIC collection.

David Bedford's Balloon Music1 for any number of players from 2 to 1000 each with 2 Balloons, a pin and their voices.

Honeywell by Howard Rees is for three groups of young musicians and is conducted by holding up cards instructing the players which material to play.

Like much of the contemporary music of the day Honeywell is an "Open form" composition with the exact order of the material left to the performers.


"Journey pieces" are one way of creating a sense of movement and continuity. Howard Skempton's Caves is a good example of this.
"Wander along the path between the caves at your own speed, pausing within the caves for an indefinite period".

John Paynter's Fog is described as a "sound picture for an average class of any age". The score is a mixture of conventional and new notations and includes elements of material devised by the performers.

One of the chapters in Brian Dennis's book "Projects in Sound" is devoted to musical mobiles. Some of these pieces are included in the Music For Young Players series. This is "Traffic Mobile" by Keith Stubbs. 

Traffic Mobile uses a rotating mobile suspended in the middle of the room to control the music with instruments grouped into different types.

Harmony Mobile by Brian Dennis is concerned with manipulating sets of pitches using a rotating mobile as a "conductor".

Hugh Shrapnel's Raindrops also explores sets of pitches in a ways similar to Terry Riley's In C from 1964 and also parts of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning written for the Scratch Orchestra (Hugh Shrapnel was a founder member) in the early 1970's

Several of the Music for Young Players pieces were featured in BBC radio and TV broadcasts for schools. This video is of Brian Dennis and some of his students in the 1969.

Links and further explorations

Elis Pehkonen
Vic Hoyland

Radio 4 programme The School is Full of Noises about similar work (from Jon Savage)

Full of Noises

David Bedford

Credits: Story

Many thanks to
Harry Cooper (Sound And Music)
Davide Cavagnino (Google Cultural Institute)
Ann Clayton (Heritage Quay archive centre)
Elis Pehkonen (Composer) for an interesting afternoon exploring his archive and sending me the recording of Aquarelle
Vic Hoyland (Composer) for recordings
Keith Stubbs (Composer)
Sid Stovoid (record collector)
David Ashworth, Bruce Cole, Nancy Evans, Judith Robinson, Andy Visser

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.