Milan Knížák ‘Broken Music’

Milan Knížák 'Broken Music' cassette coverMilan Knížák's modified LPsMilan Knížák Untitled 1963-1987, from the Broken Music catalogue, 1989Milan Knížák 'Broken Music' side 1Milan Knížák 'Broken Music' box setMilan Knížák 'Destroyed Music' from the Broken Music catalogue, 1989

01 Broken Music (28:35)
02 Broken Music (32:04)

Total time 60:39
K7 in special packaging + inserts, Edition Hundertmark, Cologne. Germany, 1983

Issued by Armin Hundertmark publisher, a Cologne imprint specialized in artist books and multiples (now relocated in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria), who also published a few cassettes by Henri Chopin, Philip Corner, Henry Flynt or Hermann Nitsch. This limited edition of 40 signed copies of Czech artist Milan Knížák‘s ‘Broken Music’ is an artist multiple including a melted record, one cassette and various texts in a special 27.1 x 21 cm box. One copy is at the MoMA, NY, an other in our reader Rainier’s own collection and he generously offered a rip (thanks!). The music comes from damaged LP recordings, with a few ralentandos and speed changes by the artist here and there. The discs used by Knížák are probably similar to the ones pictured above, especially the 4-pieces glued together. The result is different from the monotonous 1979 LP of the same name (unauthorized CD reissue, Ampersand, 2002). This one is varied and Knížák is actually playing and composing with the LPs. An overview of Knížák’s visual work is available here. An introduction to Knížák’s music is offered here (with sound files). The primary source of information on Knížák’s music is Petr Ferenc’s 2003 article ‘Milan Knížák the musician’.



  • 1979 ‘Broken Music’, LP, ed. Multhipla Records (aka Cramps Records), Milan, Italy
  • 1983 ‘Broken Music’, cassette and inserts, Edtion Hundertmark, Cologne, Germany
  • 1989 ‘Broken Music – Details’, flexi disc, by the Arditti String Quartet, DAAD galerie, Berlin, Germany
  • 1991 ‘Obrad Horící Mysli’, 2xLP, Condor, CZ
  • 2002 ‘Navrhuju Krysy’, CD, Anne Records, CZ
  • 2002 ‘Broken Music’, CD, Ampersand, USA (1979 Multhipla Records LP reissue)
  • 2005 ‘Broken Music’, CD, Kissing Spell, UK (1979 Multhipla Records LP reissue)
  • 2008 ‘Broken Tracks’, CD, Guerilla Records, CZ

Appears on:

  • 1996 ‘Graficke partitury a koncepty’ [Graphic Scores and Concepts], book+CD, Petr Kofron and Martin Smolka ed., Agon Orchestra (contains the 1973 conceptual music piece ‘nl’)

With Aktual group:

  • 1965 ‘Aktual Kommunity’, samizdat LP, CZ
  • 198? ‘Attentat Na Kulturu’, 1971-2 live recordings, cassette, S.T.C.V. (aka Petr Cibulka), CZ
  • 2003 ‘Attentat Na Kulturu’, CD, Anne Records, CZ
  • 2005 ‘Deti bolševizmu’, CD, Guerilla Records, CZ

12 Responses to “Milan Knížák ‘Broken Music’”

  1. 1 Kosten Koper August 12, 2009 at 8:03 am

    seminal chaotic fun, fun, fun in the fluffy chair…

  2. 2 continuo August 12, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Hey, Kosten! It’s the first time you leave a comment on this blog. Welcome!

  3. 3 Lucky August 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    when i began to completely freak for the work of christian marclay, there was no way in getting around knížák. up to now i only heard the record posted by direct waves two and a half years ago (link still up) – but it didn’t moved me then. i thought it might be because of the bad sound quality – but after reading your post it might be just a bad record!

    continuo – it’s not the first time i leave comment, and with wonderful and immensely detailed researched posts like this, it definitely won’t be my last.


  4. 4 continuo August 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    If truth be told, and besides my immense admiration for Marclay, Knížák was there first when it comes to breaking LPs to pieces. The usual thanks to you Lucky.

  5. 5 Lucky August 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    no argue about that although his first entry in your discography is from 1979, knížák actually started experimenting with altered records in the 1960’s, whereas marclay had his start with records in the late 1970’s!

    more info here – including an extensive info-pdf in czech.

  6. 6 danny g August 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    holey moley – thanks to Continuo and Rainier!!! This is a holy grail item!!!

  7. 7 continuo August 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Definitely under the radar material, for sure. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. 9 continuo August 14, 2009 at 6:11 am

    You’re welcome.

  9. 10 twinkle August 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I have come to understand that Lazlo Moholy-Nagy in 1923 recognized the unprecedented efforts of the Italian Bruitistes to broaden our perception of sound. He expanded on their noise-based developments by “reinventing” the record.

    In an article in Der Storm #7, he outlined the fundamentals of his experimentation: “I have suggested to change the gramophone from a reproductive instrument to a productive one, so that on a record without prior acoustic information, the acoustic information, the acoustic phenomenon itself originates by engraving the necessary Ritchriftreihen (etched grooves).” He presents detailed descriptions for manipulating discs, creating “real sound forms” to train people to be “true music receivers and creators”.

    source: UUbuWeb Papers:
    A Brief history of Anti-Records and Conceptual Records by Ron Rice
    From unfiled: Music Under New Technology, ReR / Recommended Sourcebook 0402

  10. 11 continuo August 15, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    You’re right to mention Moholy-Nagy. His article was reproduced in the ‘Broken Music’ catalogue, DAAD galerie, Berlin, 1989, along Knížák’s writings, scores and damaged records. This 1923 article is essential.

  11. 12 music mania June 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Hmmm…broken music..this is unique. something new for me

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