Past Event
Visual and Dramatic Arts
Friday, January 28

About the Event

“Three Experiments in Music Writing”
David Grubbs
Friday, Jan. 28 // 1:00pm
Moody Center, room 205

In his forthcoming book Good night the pleasure was ours (Duke University Press, 2022), David Grubbs melts down and recasts three decades of playing music on tour into a book-length poem that brings to a close the trilogy that includes Now that the audience is assembled (2018) and The Voice in the Headphones (2020). These works spring from the idea of literature as a medium for writing about music; they represent through close description three sites of musical experience: the concert, the recording studio, and the tour, opening up music writing to greater experimentation while at the same time serving a documentary function amidst changing musical cultures.

Where the first two books in the series each apply a microscopic focus to a single day of musical activity, Good night the pleasure was ours skips forward with the refrain “different group this time,” careening from one mode of music-making and its attendant subculture to the next. The world outside the tour filters in with eccentric sparseness. From teenage punk bands to ensembles with no fixed membership to solo performance to a group augmented by digital avatars, touring is presented as a series of daily dislocations that provides an education distinctly its own. These musicians’ job is to play that evening’s gig, and their task resets daily. But over the course of the book, its longer time scale shows music above all as an irreversible process—and Good night the pleasure was ours makes the case that this is one reason for loving it so.

For this presentation, Grubbs will present excerpts from all of three of these books, together with a discussion of the nexus of music and literature, including reflections on his ongoing collaboration with the poet Susan Howe.


David Grubbs is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. At Brooklyn College he also teaches in the MFA programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Creative Writing. He is the author of The Voice in the Headphones, Now that the audience is assembled, and Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (all published by Duke University Press) as well as the collaborative artists’ books Simultaneous Soloists (with Anthony McCall, Pioneer Works Press) and Projectile (with Reto Geiser and John Sparagana, Drag City). Good night the pleasure was ours is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2022.

Grubbs has released fourteen solo albums and appeared on more than 200 releases. In 2000, his The Spectrum Between (Drag City) was named “Album of the Year” in the London Sunday Times. He is known for his ongoing cross-disciplinary collaborations with poet Susan Howe and visual artists Anthony McCall and Angela Bulloch, and his work has been presented at, among other venues, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, the Tate Modern, and the Centre Pompidou.

Directions & Parking

The Moody Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Rice University, and is best reached by using Campus Entrance 8 at the intersection of University Boulevard and Stockton Street. As you enter campus, the building is on the right, just past the Media Center. There is a dedicated parking lot adjacent to the building. Payment for the Moody Lot is by credit card only. Maps are available at

Please note: Our address is the general address to Rice University. To find us on campus, enter “Moody Center for the Arts” on Google or Apple maps.


Moody Center for the Arts
room 205