Call For Proposals


Unit Structures: The Art of Cecil Taylor

Thurs. Oct. 24 – Sat. Oct. 26, 2019

The Graduate Center and the Hitchcock Institute for the Study of American Music at Brooklyn College, City University of New York

The late Cecil Taylor was a giant in the arts, a unique figure not only within jazz, but one of the most genuinely protean artists of our times. This conference aims to build upon Taylor scholarship in jazz and American music studies, and also to expand it into a broader range of disciplines in order to reflect more accurately the scope of Taylor’s own praxis. We explicitly seek to recognize scholarship in an expanded context, one that welcomes creative responses to Cecil Taylor’s work. We are additionally accepting proposals for new works in sonic discourse with Taylor’s 1966 poetic prose essay “Sound Structure of Subculture Becoming Major Breath/Naked Fire Gesture,” to be premiered at the Friday evening concert. The conference will celebrate Cecil Taylor the educator by hosting a large ensemble workshop led by bassoonist/improviser Karen Borca, who will pass on a composition dictated to her by Taylor.

In sum, proposals are called for:

  • Spoken papers of 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of questions.
  • Composition/improvisation in discourse with Cecil Taylor’s 1966 essay “Sound Structure of Subculture Becoming Major Breath/Naked Fire Gesture” (liner notes to the album Unit Structures). Please note that we expect composers to perform their own works. The concert will take place at the Graduate Center’s Elebash Hall on Friday evening and will be recorded. The submission should include a clear description that can function as detailed program notes. Also include a biography and links to audio demonstrating past works. 
  • Participation in the large ensemble workshop led by Karen Borca. Include reason for interest, instrument, any experience with improvisation, and biography.

The keynote speakers are Nahum Dimitri Chandler, David Grubbs, Fred Moten, Fumi Okiji, and Ben Young, and the Thursday evening concert and discussion will feature Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Matthew Shipp.

Please send all proposals as .doc or .pdf attachments to Be sure to clearly indicate whether they are for a spoken paper, composition/improvisation, or participation in the workshop, and please include the following: title (if spoken paper or composition/improvisation), author(s), affiliation(s) (if any), email address for contact, and technical requirements. The deadline for proposals is Friday, May 3, 2019.


***Invited performers will receive modest sums in artist fees for their contributions. Graduate students and independent scholars with demonstrated financial need may also receive funding.***