Electroacoustic Music

Genres and Categories [G&C]  ]

This somewhat elusive term has evolved since the late 1950s, and attempts to define it have provoked much-heated debate amongst academics and practitioners. The term has a specific meaning in audio engineering (see 2 below), and a rather-too-simplistic explanation is that it was adopted as an inclusive and umbrella term as the activities of musique concrète, tape music, and electronic music composers saw almost immediate cross-fertilization, which continued through the 1960s and 70s.

The term saw early usage in the United Kingdom and Canada, and during the 1970s tended (amongst other terms) to be used in the French language (électroacoustique) in place of musique concrète. The term was never in wide usage in the United States, where Electronic Music, Tape Music and Computer Music predominated, but recent years have seen an increased usage here too. The term is currently widely used in several European/South American languages, including Spanish and Portuguese.

More recently, some, particularly in Canada, have adopted the term Electroacoustics, which includes Electroacoustic Music Studies in its sense, and has the advantage of emphasising the interdisciplinary nature of the field in the nuance of its meaning. (See 4 below)

Some argue that the term is so elusive as to be unhelpful, and should therefore be abandoned. Others opt for the most general possible use of the word as an umbrella term (see 1 below). The English language has seen increased recent usage of the terms Sonic Art and Electroacoustics in place of Electroacoustic Music. The French language has several nuanced alternatives, including l’Art de Sons Fixés (Michel Chion) and Musique Acousmatique (proposed by François Bayle in the early 1970s as a replacement for Musique Concrète, and a means of delineating his aesthetic concerns within the broader field of Electroacoustic Music).

In an attempt to illustrate nuance, the following four established definitions are offered below.

1. Electroacoustic music refers to any music in which electricity has had some involvement in sound registration and/or production other than that of simple microphone recording or amplification. (Source - Leigh Landy (1999). Reviewing the Musicology of Electroacoustic Music. Organised Sound Vol. 4, No. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 61-70)

2. An adjective describing any process involving the transfer of a signal from acoustic to electrical form, or vice versa. Most commonly transducers, such as the microphone or loudspeaker are examples of this process.

Although the term most precisely refers to a signal transfer from electrical to acoustic form or vice versa, it also is often used more loosely to refer to any process for the electronic generation and/or manipulation of sound signals, including techniques of sound synthesis for the electronic or digital generation of such signals. When the purpose of such manipulation is artistic, the result is commonly called electroacoustic music. (Source: Barry Truax - Handbook for Acoustic Ecology CD-ROM Edition. Cambridge Street Publishing, 1999 - CSR-CDR 9901)

3. Music in which electronic technology, now primarily computer-based, is used to access, generate, explore and configure sound materials, and in which loudspeakers are the prime medium of transmission. There are two main genres. Acousmatic music is intended for loudspeaker listening and exists only in recorded tape form (tape, compact disk, computer storage). In live electronic music the technology is used to generate, transform or trigger sounds (or a combination of these) in the act of performance; this may include generating sound with voices and traditional instruments, electroacoustic instruments, or other devices and controls linked to computer-based systems. Both genres depend on loudspeaker transmission, and an electroacoustic work can combine acousmatic and live elements. (Source - Simon Emmerson, Denis Smalley (2001). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians - Second Edition. Ed. Stanley Sadie.)

4. (Electroacoustics) The use of electricity for the conception, ideation, creation, storage, production, interpretation, distribution, reproduction, perception, cognition, visualization, analysis, comprehension and/or conceptualization of sound.

(Source - Kevin Austin, with an acknowledgement to Michael Century)




- Music using technology ( English , French )



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Aharonian, Coriún (1975). Processus de création musicale en Amérique latine
Alain, Olivier, Bayle, François, Cadieu, Martine, Fleuret, Maurice, Lonchampt, Jacques (1969). Pierre Henry
Alvarez, Javier (1989). Rhythm as Motion Discovered
Alvarez, Javier (1993). Compositional Strategies and Contexts
Anderson, Barry (1979). Electro-Acoustic Music: Open or Closed Circuit
Appleton, Jon (1984). Live and In Concert: Composer/Performer Views of Real-Time Performance Systems
Appleton, Jon (1990). Composer pour des nouveaux instruments
Appleton, Jon (1996). Musical Storytelling
Appleton, Jon (1999). Reflexions of a Former Performer of Electroacoustic Music
Appleton, Jon H. (1989b). Aesthetic Direction in Electronic Music
Appleton, Jon H. (1989c). {‘Otahiti}: The Evolution of a Personal Style
Arnell, Richard (1984). Sixteen Years in the Electronic Maze
Arriagada, Jorge, Vuarnet, Jean-Noël (1972). Euterpe 72 de l’instrumentale à l’électro-acoustique instrumentale
Ascione, Patrick (1998). Pour une écriture de l’espace
Ashline, William H. (2003). The Pariahs of Sound: On the Post-Duchampian Aesthetics of Electro-acoustic Improv
Baboni Schilingi, Jacopo (2001). French Electro-acoustic Music: Musicians and Researchers
Barlow, Clarence (1995). On the Aesthetic of all Historical Development of Electroacoustic Music
Barrachina, Solange (2003). {Camera oscura}, regard sur l’œuvre et sa chorégraphie
Barrett, Natasha (2000a). Musical Structure, Shifting Perspectives and Composition
Barrière, Françoise (1993). De Bourges: un paysage complexe et nuancé
Barrière, Françoise (2003). Où en est la musique électroacoustique aujourd’hui ?
Basque, Nicolas (2000). Évolution de la musique électroacoustique à Montréal
Battier, Marc (1992). Sculpter la transparence. L’écriture, le geste, l’environnement
Battier, Marc (2002b). L’opéra et les technologies du son artificiel
Battier, Marc (2003c). Science et technologie comme sources d’inspiration
Battistelli, Giorgio (1995). Tecnologia e drammaturgia (Technology and dramaturgy)
Bayle, François (1990a). Pierre Schaeffer L’œuvre musicale
Bayle, François (1993). Musique acousmatique. Proposition... ...positions
Bayle, François, Chion, Michel (1975). La musique électroacoustique est une écriture
Bayle, François, Gayou, Evelyne (2003a). Hasard et nécessité
Bayle, François, Gayou, Evelyne (2003b). Mes images
Beaucage, Réjean (2002). Mutek - flou artistique ?
Beaucage, Réjean (2004). Le courant électrique dans Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques
Bennett, Gerald (1990). Repères électro-acoustiques
Bennett, Gerald (1995). Thoughts on the Oral Culture of Electroacoustic Music
Berenguer, Jose Manuel (1995). On the Necessity of Defining Electroacoustic Music
Berenguer, José Manuel (1997). Analytical Reveries I
Berio, Luciano, Chion, Michel (1975). Luciano Berio et l’avenir de la musique électroacoustique
Bernardini, Nicola, Rudi, Jøran (2002). Compositional Use of Digital Audio Effects
Bernardini, Nicola, Vidolin, Alvise (1995). Piccola economia della musica elettronica (The micro-economics of electronic music)
Besson, Dominique (1991). La transcription des musiques électroacoustiques : que noter, comment et pourquoi ?
Blanchard, Philippe (1999). De Luigi Russolo al músico simbiótico (From Luigi Russolo to the symbiotic musician)
Boehmer, Konrad (1990). Aspects socio-esthétiques de la musique électronique
Boehmer, Konrad (2002). Koenig - Sound Composition - {Essay}
Boehmer, Konrad, Zanési Christian, (1995). Histoire du studio de la WDR de Cologne
Boesch, Rainer (1996). Analysis in Electroacoustic Music (Music is not invented, it is composed)
Boeswillwald, Pierre (1996). Analysis in the Electroacoustic World
Boeswillwald, Pierre (2000). “Autres temps; autre temps” ou le temps et les arts sonores électroacoustiques
Bosma, Hannah (1998a). Gender and Electroacoustics
Bosma, Hannah (1998b). The Death of the Singer Authorship and Female Voice in Electroacoustic Music
Bossis, Bruno (2003). Practical seminar : Creating a simple electroacoustic piece in easy stages
Bowers, John (2003). Improvising Machines: Ethnographically Informed Design for Improvised Electro-acoustic Music
Brattico, Elvira, Sassanelli, Fiorella (2000). Perception and Musical Preferences in Wishart’s Work
Bridger, Michael (1989). An Approach to the Analysis of Electroacoustic Music Derived from Empirical Investigation and Critical Methodologies of Other Disciplines
Bridger, Michael (2002). Narrativisation in Electroacoustic and Computer Music - Reflections on Empirical Research into Listeners’ Response
Bridoux-Michel, Séverine (2004). Musique, architecture, un projet multimédia: le Pavillon Philips de l’Exposion internationale de 1958
Brown, Andrew (2003). Electroacoustic music in Asia and the Pacific
Bruckert, Jacqueline (2001). Le message schaefferien and les CFMI
Budon, Osvaldo (2000). Composing with Objects, Networks, and Time Scales: An Interview with Horacio Vaggione
Burns, Christopher (2002a). Realizing Lucier and Stockhausen: Case Studies in the Performance Practice of Electroacoustic Music