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learn: The Decay of Cities by Henry Cow

By Anthony Garone

Atonal acoustic guitar madness.

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Soundslice Notation and Tablature

Living sheet music brought to you by Soundslice . Wanna know more? Check out our interview with Soundslice co-creator, Adrian Holovaty

Thanks to Gabriel Lucas Riccio  for his help with this transcription.


Henry Cow ’s Western Culture  is one of my favorite records, if not my absolute favorite record ever. It’s extremely challenging for the first several listens. Like Harold Bloom ’s first attempts at reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian  where he threw the book across the room three times before he could finish it, this album was unlistenable noise to me for many years.

Once I started to understand motivic composition , I began to understand this record and appreciate its beauty.

Anyway, I’ve wanted to transcribe this piece for a long time and the idea had been eating away at me for the past few weeks, so here we are. There are lots of tricks to playing it, so make sure you listen to the original recording before you try playing through the transcription.

Based on the feedback I got when I posted this video, there’s more demand for Henry Cow transcriptions than I ever thought imaginable. If you’d like to see more, let me know!

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