updated 15 September 2010

Conlon Nancarrow

Mexican composer of American descent born 27 October 1912 in Texarkana (Arkansas); died 10 August 1997 in Mexico City.

Samuel Conlon Nancarrow was born on 27 October 1912 in Texarkana, Arkansas, the city where his father, also Samuel Nancarrow, had been transferred by his employer, Standard Oil. Samuel Nancarrow served as mayor of the town from 1925 to 1930, and it is still possible to find his name, doubtlessly of Welsh origin, on plaques and monuments there. A defiant and headstrong child, Conlon was sent to military school by his parents in the hope that this would instil a sense of discipline in him. The result, instead, was that he became “infected by the virus of music,” taking up trumpet and performing in jazz ensembles. Conlon’s father then sent his son to Vanderbilt University to study engineering. However, Conlon attended few classes, and promptly dropped out in order to study music at the Cincinnati College Conservatory. While there, he heard the Cincinnati Symphony in one of the first North American performances of The Rite of Spring, an experience that would leave him with a deep interest in the music of Stravinsky and, more significantly, an indelible fascination with complex rhythms.

He then moved to Boston, where he studied privately with Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, and Nicolas Slonimsky. While there, he may have met Arnold Schoenberg, who had recently settled in the United States (Nancarrow always insisted that he had no memory of any such meeting, but his first wife maintained that she and her husband spent an evening in Schoenberg’s apartment in Brookline). At the time, Nancarrow, like many other artists in the 1930s, was a member of the communist party. In 1937-38, he served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. While there, he was struck in the neck by a piece of shrapnel; by pure luck, he was able to be evacuated on board a plane transporting olive oil, and returned to Arkansas to a hero’s welcome by people who believed that he had been in Spain to combat Catholicism.

During a subsequent period spent in New York, he met Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, John Cage, and Wallingford Riegger. However, upon learning that his colleagues were deeply concerned about the consequences of their communist party membership, he expatriated himself to Mexico in 1940, taking with him a copy of Henry Cowell’s book, New Musical Resources that he had bought in New York. This work—providing detailed descriptions of new forms of rhythmic complexity and recommending the use of the player piano to automate performance—was to have a deep influence on Nancarrow. In 1947, he received a sum of money from a trust fund that his father had set up for him. He used it to return to New York City to buy a player piano. While there, he also visited QRS House, a company in the Bronx that produced player piano rolls. It was there that he discovered a device which made it possible to punch holes in the rolls by hand; he subsequently hired an engineer to duplicate the machine for him. Between 1930 and 1945, Nancarrow had composed fewer than twelve short works for standard instruments, including a few pieces for piano, a Septet, a String Quartet, a Toccata for Violin and Piano, and the four-movement Piece No. 1 for Small Orchestra; most of these works made use of multiple simultaneous tempi, or at the very least, complex rhythms. On the rare occasions in which Nancarrow had sought performances of his works, he had been deeply disheartened by the poor technical standard of the result. Upon his return to Mexico City, in a studio built using money from his second wife (a painter who also worked as a model for Diego Rivera), Nancarrow worked for the majority of the remainder of his career on a series of studies for player piano which he hoped would be the catalysts for his explorations of rhythmic complexity.

Nancarrow sent a score of his Rhythmic Study No. 1 to Elliott Carter, who cited an extract of it in his article “The Rhythmic Basis of American Music”. This article was published in the magazine The Score in June 1955. Towards 1960, a tape recording of Nancarrow’s first Studies fell into the hands of John Cage. Parts of this recording would subsequently be used by Cage’s collaborator, Merce Cunningham, in a dance performance, the soundtrack of which was released (albeit in small numbers) by Columbia Records in 1969.

Besides these two events and a commentary by Aaron Copland on his early works, Nancarrow would receive no recognition for his music until 1975 (when the composer was 63 years old). In the following year, Charles Amirkhanian released recordings of Nancarrow’s studies on his label, 1750 Arch. In 1981, Nancarrow obtained a visa and travelled to the United States for the first time since the 1940s (having earlier renounced his American citizenship). Over the following years, he would be received as a guest artist at the Cabrillo Festival (in southern California), at the ISCM Festival in Graz, and at events in Innsbruck, Cologne, and at IRCAM. In such appearances, he was often accompanied by György Ligeti, who lauded his music as “the biggest discovery since Webern and Ives… so original, seductive, perfectly constructed but also full of emotion… For me, this music surpasses anything written by any other composer alive today.” (excerpt from a letter to Charles Amirkhanian, dated 4 January 1981; Vienna).

With this burgeoning recognition, Nancarrow started to receive commissions, and once again composed works (for the first time since 1945) for live performers, including Tango? and Three Canons for Ursula (both for piano), Piece No. 2 for small orchestra, Trio No. 2, and, for the Arditti Quartet, the formidable String Quartet No. 3.

In the final years of his life, Nancarrow suffered from emphysema, a condition that was exacerbated by the pollution in Mexico City. Plans to return to the United States amounted to nothing due to the demand from the authorities that he sign a declaration renouncing his “infantile and foolish” adherence to communism, a concession that was unacceptable to him. He died in Mexico City on 10 August 1997.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2010

By Kyle Gann

Conlon Nancarrow had one of the most peculiar careers of any composer in history. Before age 65, he had almost no public presence at all. Within a few years after that, he would be hailed in Europe as one of the greatest of 20th-century composers. The reason he was able to keep an active musical career going for three decades in almost total seclusion was technological: some three fourths of his 65 or so works are written for a single, performerless instrument, the player piano. His reason for obtaining and devoting himself to the instrument was not anti-social, but entirely musical: he wanted to experiment with rhythmic complexes no one had ever heard before. And so in his out-of-the-way Mexico City studio, Nancarrow became the first person to hear rhythms of “two against the square root of two”, “e against pi”, “60 against 61”, “17 against 18 against 19 against 20”. Yet his achievement was not merely technical, for he brought to his four-dozen-plus player piano studies an incredible wealth of rhythmic and especially structural imagination. With few around to notice, he single-handedly redefined what was possible in the area of music’s rhythmic structure.

Other composers – Stravinsky, Hindemith, Toch, Malipiero, Casella - had already written pieces for player piano, but, despite some forays into superhuman speed, thickness, and endurance, not with such complexity as to render the instrument entirely nescessary. The early conventional chamber works of Nancarrow show some interest in polyrhythms, though limited by what a young composer could expect to get performed at the time. In 1939, however, having returned from fighting in the Spanish Civil War, Nancarrow came across Henry Cowell’s book New Musical Resources, which outlined a new theory of rhythm analogous to the harmonic series. A whole note, theorized Cowell, could be divided into five, seven, 13 equal parts, creating music of different tempos at the same time; one could go up and down a scale of tempos, or have simultaneous acceleration and deceleration. Intriguingly, Cowell added,

Some of the rhythms developed through the present acoustical investigation could not be played by any living performer; but these highly engrossing rhythmical complexes could easily be cut on a player-piano roll. This would give a real reason for writing music specially for player piano, such as music written for it at present does not seem to have.1

Cowell himself did not pursue this route, but Nancarrow – who had grown up with a player piano in his parents’ home - took the section on rhythm as a template for his calling in life. To the end of his days, diagrams from Cowell’s book adorned the walls of Nancarrow’s studio.

Despite his classical studies at Cincinnati College-Conservatory and later in Boston with Sessions, Slonimsky, and Piston, Nancarrow’s early performance experiences were based in jazz, and so were some of his first player piano studies. The first few pieces, which would later be grouped together as Study No. 3, were based on blues ostinatos, some of them at lightning-fast tempos. Over these, chords would repeat in layers of independent isorhythms: in Study No. 3a, the climax features simultaneous periodicities of 23, 29, 39, 43, or 47 16th-notes, respectively. A fan of pianists Art Tatum and Earl “Fatha” Hobbs, Nancarrow devoted considerable creativity to duplicating within a rhythm system the kind of hitherto-unnotatable freedom that jazz pianists employed. For instance, judging that the “swinging” of 8th-notes was neither a true triplet nor a dotted-8th/16th combination, he divided beats by ratios of 3 + 2 or 5 + 3.

Aside from jazz, Nancarrow’s musical interests included Stravinsky, Bartok (from whom he inherited a number of his melodic proclivities), and also Indian classical music. He collected recordings of music made by the Ude Shankar ballet, and was impressed that the basic cycle of Indian rhythmic improvisation, the tala, was defined by a series of numbers: Dhamar tala, for instance, is a 14-beat cycle divided 5+2+3+4. Such numerically defined isorhythms would become the basis for most of Nancarrow’s first 20 player piano studies. In Studies Nos. 7 and 11, such isorhythms could also create the effect of subtle jazz syncopation over a lightning-fast beat.

(Inconveniently, it is impossible to simply quantify the total number of Nancarrow’s player piano studies. They are numbered through No. 50, but Nos. 38 and 39 don’t exist, having been renumbered as 43 and 48 to fulfill commissions; Nos. 13 and 30 [the latter for prepared player piano, á la Cage] were pieces that he sometimes included, sometimes disavowed as unworthy; two final studies were titled, jokingly, Study No. 3750 and, more affectionately, “Para Yoko,” for his third wife; a late study [actually a transcription of an instrumental work] got folded into the series as No. 2a; and so on. There are even complete-sounding studies among the 68 unlabeled piano rolls found in his studio when it was cleaned out at the end of his life. Suffice it to say that there are officially about 50 studies, between 48 and 53 depending on one’s counting criteria, and possibly several others to be added to the canon after further research.)

The study eventually titled No. 1 revolves around marching major triads in two tempos at once, seven-against-four; over this, melodies are spun from a 30-pitch row. (In only one work, Study No. 25, did Nancarrow use a 12-tone row, but longer rows were a common organizational device for him; Study 21 uses a 54-pitch row, and No. 47 employs a rhythmic row of no fewer than 99 notes.) Nancarrow sent a score of Study No. 1 to Elliott Carter, who quoted an example from it in an article he wrote called “The Rhythmic Basis of American Music,” published in a magazine called The Score in June 1955 – the only public notice taken of the player piano studies before 1960. Study No. 5 is a systematically additive structure based in two ostinatos repeating at a rhythmic ratio of seven-against-five, above which various chords repeat at intervals of 11, 13, 17, and 19 16th-notes.

Study No. 7 is the most ambitious of Nancarrow’s early works, couched in a rhetoric reminiscent of sonata form, and combining six themes in three isorhythms of 18, 24, and 30 8th-notes respectively. In places, a pitch or harmony “row” goes out of phase with one of the isorhythms, just as in the isorhythmic technique of the 14th-century motet; little information about medieval music was available at the time, and it is unclear whether Nancarrow knew about his distant French predecessors, but it is notable that the French composer Olivier Messiaen had just revived a similar practice in his Quartet for the End of Time (1941). Here, as in Study No. 12 and a few others, a certain Spanish flavor is suggested by the use of Phrygian mode.

In the “Seven Canonic Studies,” Nos. 13-19 (sometimes referred to as “six,” because Nancarrow was always a little dubious about the quality of No. 13), Nancarrow embarked on an exploration of the device with which he would become most closely associated: tempo canon. Using relatively simple tempo contrasts limited to 3:4 and 4:5 (expanded in three voices up to 12:15:20), Nancarrow laid transpositions of the same melody over each other at different tempos. Nancarrow liked to joke that he didn’t have much of a melodic imagination, and that writing canons allowed him to make maximum use of one melody. In reality, the underlying principles of tempo canon offered Nancarrow the devices from which his mature musical language would be formed. The structural points that determine the shape of a Nancarrow canon include the convergence point – the point at which two voices at different tempos converge on the same point in their melodic material – and the tempo switch – the point at which two voices exchange tempos. By controlling these and through them the echo distance – the continually shrinking or expanding time unit at which one voice echoes another – Nancarrow learned to create hitherto-unknown textural and structural effects.

For instance, Study No. 24, one of Nancarrow’s most brilliantly intricate works, falls into 12 sections contrasted by both speed and dynamics (even-numbered sections being mostly loud and fast). The three voices are at tempo ratios of 14:15:16. In the center of each section is a tempo switch, at which the 14-tempo voice switches to the 16-tempo, and vice versa. The fact of the slow voice speeding up and the fast voice slowing down creates the inevitability of another convergence point, at which the voices coincide at the same point in their material. Nancarrow’s treatment of these convergence points is imaginatively varied. Often a convergence point coincides with a tumultuous climax; sometimes a convergence point falls on a rest, to make way for a more brilliant climax later in the piece. In Study No. 31, the convergence point doesn’t occur until a few seconds after the piece has ended, in the listener’s imagination.

As the music approaches a convergence point, the temporal echo distance between the different voices quickly approaches zero, often creating some stunning textural effects perceptually unlike anything else in the musical repertoire. The convergence point of Study No. 36 is particularly dramatic: the preceding music rises to a climax, and at the precise point begins a series of extremely quick chromatic arpeggios in all four voices (at tempos of 17:18:19:20), the glissandos and the distances between them quickly lengthening as the moment passes. Even Nancarrow claimed to have been “shocked” by the result when he heard it. In time, the discipline of tempo canon began to determine many structural aspects of each work. For instance, in a tempo canon of several voices, Nancarrow would place an event in the furthest-ahead voice, then pair the echo of that event in the next voice with something similar in the first, then time something similar again with the echo in the third voice, and so on. The timing of repetitions of material in Nancarrow’s tempo canons tends to be determined by the pacing of echoes among voices, which is in turn determined by the tempo ratios.

In Studies Nos. 21 and 27, Nancarrow played with the Cowell-inspired idea of acceleration canon. Study No. 21, nicknamed “Canon X,” is one of his most famous pieces: one voice starts off extremely fast and decelerates, the other starts off very slow and accelerates, so that their speeds audibly cross in the middle. In Study No. 27 the voices are marked by the percentage of their accelerations, so that in an 11% deceleration line, each note (or beat) in a melody is 11% longer than its predecessor. One of the monuments of Nancarrow’s output is Study No. 37, which contains 12 voices (no other work of his uses more than four). The 12 tempos outline a “tempo scale,” analogous to the frequencies of a 12-pitch octave in just intonation - an idea that Cowell’s book had suggested.

Along the way, Nancarrow also realized that the player piano offered timbral and textural possibilities entirely foreign to the human-played piano. The watershed work in this respect is Study No. 25, which is marked by huge glissandos and arpeggios, sometimes in both directions at once, and at speeds of 175 notes per second, ending in a free-for-all with the pedal down in which 1028 notes blitz by in 12 seconds. From this point on, speed becomes a major element in Nancarrow’s music. Additionally, in his final works, somewhat like Beethoven in his last piano sonatas, Nancarrow began to fuse the different elements of his technique into a multidimensional language. Since tempo canon suggests acceleration in the closing of its echo distances, and suggests isorhythm or ostinato in the rhythmic groups or melodies that get repeated from voice to voice, tempo canon, isorhythmic, ostinato, and acceleration/deceleration begin to coexist in a complex, syncretic language.

The masterpieces of Nancarrow’s late output are undoubtedly Studies Nos. 40, 41, and 48. No. 40 uses the tempo contrast e/π, which is approximately 13:15. The first movement is for one player piano, and the second consists of the same roll played again at different speeds on two player pianos. The massive canon of Study No. 41 has a far more complicated set of tempo relationships, involving the cube roots of, respectively, π and 13/16. Perhaps the most elegantly controlled of Nancarrow’s mammoth works, this one dots the foreground with recurring snatches of polymetric jazz melody, and the background with a system of drone pitches.

For sheer size, however, Study No. 48, with a canonic tempo ratio of 60:61 is the magnum opus. Never had Nancarrow used such a minute tempo ratio, and the speed-up in all three movements is deliciously gradual. Unique to this piece is a background of steady, clocklike beats that accelerate in stages to maximum speed, against which the more foregrounded figures are perceived. Once again the first two movements are played simultaneously to make the third. In both first and second movements the approaches to the final convergence point are marked by an alternation of pianissimo and fortissimo dynamics, which will theoretically coincide between the two pianos if the right tempo is calculated; and even if not, the interplay of dynamics between the pianos will take on an interestingly phased shape. Unlike the third movement of Study No. 41, in which synchronization of the two pianos is not crucial, the two pianos here are intended to end together dramatically at the canons’ convergence points. Nancarrow allowed himself this difficulty because by now he knew the pianos could be synchronized after the fact in the recording studio; the effect is nearly impossible to reliably achieve “live” with two normal player pianos.

In fact, the player piano studies in general pose problems for what might be considered “live” performance. Nancarrow covered the hammers of one of his pianos with steel straps for a bruttle, piercing tone; the hammers of the other are covered with leather and capped with a metal tack. Over the years he came to depend more and more on the metallic tone of his pianos to carry the counterpoint of his thick sound complexes. The early studies can be satisfactorily played on conventional, unaltered player pianos, but the later ones sound mushy, and details are obscured. Thus a truly authentic performance can take place only on the original pianos, which dwell in the depths of the Sacher Stiftung in Basel, or on other pianos modified to replicate those. Several of the early studies – those with simpler tempo ratios - have been arranged for chamber ensemble, and performed by groups such as the Ensemble Modern, Alarm Will Sound, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Still, Nancarrow plays a marginal role in the concert life of 20th-century music, considering how large he looms in the history of compositional technique, and particularly the development of rhythmic structure.

  1. Henry Cowell, New Musical Resources (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), pp. 64-65.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2010

Catalog sources and details

Kyle Gann.

Note :

Nancarrow n’a jamais daté ses études pour piano mécanique. Elles ont été ordonnées logiquement mais les dates restent approximatives. À l’origine chaque pièce était titrée Rhythm Study suivie de son numéro, mais après le n° 35, Nancarrow abandonne le mot Rhythm dans le titre. Toutes les études pour piano mécanique sont enregistrées chez Wergo, exceptées les trois dernières For Yoko, Study No. 51, et Contraption No. 1.

Catalog source(s)

Kyle Gann.

Note :

Nancarrow n’a jamais daté ses études pour piano mécanique. Elles ont été ordonnées logiquement mais les dates restent approximatives. À l’origine chaque pièce était titrée Rhythm Study suivie de son numéro, mais après le n° 35, Nancarrow abandonne le mot Rhythm dans le titre. Toutes les études pour piano mécanique sont enregistrées chez Wergo, exceptées les trois dernières For Yoko, Study No. 51, et Contraption No. 1.



  • Conlon NANCARROW, Studies for Player Piano, intégrale des œuvres pour piano mécanique, 5 cds Wergo, 2000.
  • Conlon NANCARROW, Quartets and studies, Quatuor Arditti, 1 cd Wergo, 2007, n° 6696 2.


  • Charles AMIRKHANIAN, “Interview with Composer Conlon Nancarrow”, in Conlon Nancarrow, Selected Studies for Player Piano Soundings 4, ed. Peter Garland, Berkeley, Soundings Press, p. 7-24.
  • Helena BUGALLO, Selected Studies for Player Piano by Conlon Nancarrow: Sources, Working Methods, and Compositional Strategies, Ann Arbor, UMI Dissertation Services, 2004.
  • Clifton CALLENDER, “Formalized Accelerando: An Extension of Rhythmic Techniques in Nancarrow’s Acceleration Canons”, in Perspectives of New Music, vol. 39, n° 1, 2001, p. 188-210.
  • Philip CARLSEN, “Nancarrow, Conlon”, in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie. Londres, Macmillan Press, New York, Grove’s Dictionaries of Music, 1986.
  • Philip CARLSEN, The Player-Piano Music of Conlon Nancarrow: an Analysis of Selected Studies, I.S.A.M. Monograph No. 26. Brooklyn, Institute for Studies in American Music, 1988.
  • Elliott CARTER, “The Rhythmic Basis of American Music”, The Score and I.M.A. Magazine, n° 12, juin 1955, p. 27-32.
  • Robert COMMENDAY, “The Man Who Writes for Player Piano”, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 juin 1981.
  • Eric DROTT, “Conlon Nancarrow and the Technological Sublime”, in American Music, vol. 22, n° 4, hiver 2004, p. 533-563.
  • Michael FINNISSY, “Almeida Festival: Nancarrow and Ives”, in Tempo, nouvelle série, n° 154, septembre 1985, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 45-46.
  • Michael FINNISSY, [article sans titre], Tempo, nouvelle série, n° 133-134, septembre, 1980, p. 85-86.
  • Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Conlon Nancarrow und die Emanzipation des Tempo”, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, n° 7-8, 1989, p. 32-38.
  • Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Conlon Nancarrow’s ‘Studies for Player Piano’/Time is the last frontier in music”, Melos n° 4, 1984, p. 104-22.
  • Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Ich bin beim Komponieren nur meinen Wunschen gefolgt” [entretien avec Conlon Nancarrow], MusikTexte, n° 21, octobre 1987, p. 29-32.
  • Cole GAGNE, Tracy CARAS. “Conlon Nancarrow”, in Soundpieces: Interviews with American Composers, Metuchen, NJ, Scarecrow Press, 1982, p. 281-303.
  • Kyle GANN, The Music of Conlon Nancarrow, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Kyle GANN, “Conlon Nancarrow: Study No. 25 for Player Piano”, in Settling New Scores: Music Manuscripts from the Paul Sacher Foundation, Felix Meyer, ed. Mayence, Schott Musik International, 1998, p. 171-173.
  • Kyle GANN, “Conlon Nancarrow’s Tempo Tornadoes”, Village Voice, New York, 5 octobre 1993, p. 93 et 97.
  • Kyle GANN, “A Feast of 16 Strings”, Village Voice, New York, 4 avril 1989, p. 71.
  • Kyle GANN, “Private Bells”, Village Voice, New York, 14 novembre 1989, p. 89.
  • Kyle GANN, “Piano Rolls and Fresh Mangos”, Village Voice, New York, 2 septembre 1997, p. 68-69.
  • Peter GARLAND, “Conlon Nancarrow: Chronicle of a Friendship”, in America: Essays on American Music and Culture (1973-1980), Santa Fe, Soundings Press, 1982, p. 157-185.
  • James R. GREESON, Gretchen B. GEARHART et Conlon NANCARROW, “Conlon Nancarrow: An Arkansas Original”, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, vol. 54, n° 4, hiver 1995, p. 457-469.
  • Herbert HENCK et Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Neues von Nancarrow”, Neuland n° 2, 1981-1982, p. 216-217.
  • Herbert HENCK et Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Neues von Nancarrow”, Neuland n° 3 (1983), p. 247-250.
  • Herbert HENCK et Monika FURST-HEIDTMANN, “Neues von Nancarrow”, Neuland n° 5, 1985, p. 297-301.
  • Jürgen HOCKER, “Begegnungen mit Nancarrow”, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 2002, 284 p.
  • Jan JARVLEPP, “Conlon Nancarrow’s Study #27 for Player Piano Viewed Analytically”, Perspectives of New Music, n° 23/1-2, 1983-1984, p. 218-222.
  • Allan KOZZIN, “Conlon Nancarrow Dies at 84; Composed for the Player Piano”, in The New York Times, 12 août 1997.
  • Joan LABARBARA, “The Remarkable Art of Conlon Nancarrow”, Musical America, mai 1984, p. 12-13.
  • Minna LEDERMAN, The Life and Death of a Small Magazine (Modern Music, 1926-1946), I.S.A.M. Monograph, n° 18, Brooklyn, Institute for Studies in American Music, 1983.
  • Gordon MUMMA, “Briefly About Nancarrow”, in Conlon Nancarrow, Selected Studies for Player Piano, Soundings 4, ed. Peter Garland, Berkeley, Soundings Press, 1977, p. 1-5.
  • Gordon MUMMA, “Nancarrow Notes”, in Walter Zimmermann, Desert Plants, Vancouver: A.R.C. Publications, 1976, p. 247-251.
  • Conlon NANCARROW, “Mexican Music: a Developing Nationalism”, Modern Music, n° 19/1, novembre-décembre 1941, p. 67-69.
  • Conlon NANCARROW, “Over the Air”, Modern Music n° 17/1, novembre-décembre 1939, p. 55 ; n° 2, janvier-février 1940, p. 115-116 ; n° 3 mars-avril 1940, p. 191-193 ; n° 4, mai-juin 1940, p. 263-265.
  • Conlon NANCARROW, “Unidentified Player-Piano-Roll Composition” [facsimile d’une partie du rouleau de Study No. 23], in  : John Cage, Notations, West Glover, Vt., Something Else Press, 1969.
  • Tim PAGE, “Music: Conlon Nancarrow”, in The New York Times, 21 avril 1986.
  • David PLACE, [article sans titre], Computer Music Journal, vol. 7, n° 1, printemps 1983, p. 71.
  • Peter QUINN, [article sans titre], Tempo, New Series, n° 220, avril 2002, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 49-50.
  • Roger REYNOLDS, “Conlon Nancarrow: Interviews in Mexico City and San Francisco”, American Music 2/2, été 1984, p. 1-24.
  • Roger REYNOLDS, “Inexorable Continuities….: A Commentary on the Music of Conlon Nancarrow”, in Conlon Nancarrow, Selected Studies for Player Piano, Soundings 4, ed. Peter Garland, Berkeley, Soundings Press, 1977, p. 26-40.
  • John ROCKWELL, “Conlon Nancarrow: Poet of the Player Piano”, The New York Times, 28 juin 1981, p. 17-20.
  • Larry ROHTER, “Conlon Nancarrow, On a Roll”, The New York Times, 25 octobre 1987, section 2, p. 27.
  • Carter SCHOTZ, [article sans titre], Leonardo, vol. 25, n° 2, 1992, p. 231-232.
  • Robert K. SCHWARZ, “As Obscurity Turns to Absence, a Composer Thrives”, in The New York Times, 9 novembre 1997.
  • Nicolas SLONIMSKYl, “Complicated Problems – Drastic Solution”, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, 10 novembre 1951, section B, p. 12.
  • Tim SOUSTER, “Conlon Nancarrow”, Neuland, n° 1-3, 1980, p. 131-133.
  • P. A. T. Untitled review in Music & Letters, vol. 33, n° 4, octobre 1952, Londres, Oxford University Press, p. 366.
  • James TENNEY, “Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano”, in Conlon Nancarrow, Selected Studies for Player Piano, Soundings 4, ed. Peter Garland, Berkeley, Soundings Press, 1977, p. 41-64.
  • Margaret E. THOMAS, “Nancarrow’s Canons: Projections of Temporal and Formal Structures”, in Perspectives of New Music, vol. 38, n° 2, été 2000, p. 106-133.
  • Margaret E. THOMAS, Untitled review in Journal of Music Theory, vol. 41, n° 2, automne 1997, Durham, Duke University Press, p. 330-340.
  • John WARNABY, [article sans titre], Tempo, nouvelle série, n° 189, juin 1994, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 49-50.
  • (s.n), “Nancarrow Prize”, The New York Times, 1er janvier 1982.