Ostertag, Bob

2002

Human Bodies, Computer Music

Leonardo Music Journal: Vol. 12. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 11-14.

URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/lmj

Language(s): English

Keyword(s):

Interactivity Cybernetics Historical Electroacoustic Instruments

Abstract:

In this article, the author considers the absence of the artist’s body in electronic music, a missing element that he finds crucial to the success of any work of art. In reviewing the historical development of electronic music from musique concrète to analogue and then digital synthesisers, the author finds that the attainment of increased control and flexibility has coincided with the reduction of identifiable bodily involvement by the performer. He contrasts this trend with the highly physical intervention and manipulation, first practised with atypical electronic instruments such as the theremin, subsequently introduced to the electric guitar by Jimi Hendrix and his followers, and then to vinyl by turntable artists. He concludes that the tension between body and machine in music, as in modern life itself, can only exist as an experience to examine and criticise and not as a problem to resolve.