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)

 

Links:

UNESCO DigiArts

- Music using technology ( English , French )

 

Bibliography:

English - Español - Français - Deutch - Italiano

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Solomos, Makis (2005). An Introduction to Horacio Vaggione’s Musical and Theoretical Thought
SOSA, Rogelio (2004). Nuevas poéticas electroacústicas (New electroacoustic poetics)
Soulez, Antonia, Vaggione, Horacio (2005). Composing, Listening
Stockhausen, Karlheinz (1974). Die Zukunft der elektroakustischen Apparaturen in der Musik (The future of electronic apparatus in music)
Stockhausen, Karlheinz (1996). Electroacoustic Performance Practice
Tagney, Philip (1992). An Interview with Alejandro Viñao
Taylor, Timothy D. (2001). Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture
Teruggi, Daniel (1999). L’interactivité dans les processus de création sonore et musicale
Teruggi, Daniel (2001a). Preserving and Diffusing
Teruggi, Daniel (2001b). Après une écoute de {Sud}
Teruggi, Daniel (2001c). Electro-acoustic Music in Italy
Teruggi, Daniel (2004b). Quel esprit pour demain?
Teruggi, Daniel, Couprie, Pierre (2001). Les {Presque rien} de Luc Ferrari. {Hétérozygote} et les {Presque rien}
Teruggi, Daniel, Dunkelman, Stefan, Coppe, Dimitri (1997). Daniel Teruggi, directeur INA-GRM
Teruggi, Daniel, Romano, Marta (2001). Interview with Daniel Teruggi Director of Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM)
Thaemlitz, Terre (2001). Operating in Musical Economies of Compromosie (or ... When do I get paid for writing this?)
Thibault, Alain (2002). Culture numérique et électroacoustique
Thomas, Jean-Christophe (2001). Sur l’expression de la nature dans les musiques électroacoustiques
Thomas, Jean-Christophe (2002). Aspects d’Orphée
Thomas, Jean-Christophe (2003a). Ivo Malec: trouvaille, minimalisme et théâtralité
Thomas, Jean-Christophe (2003b). Entrons dans {Camera oscura} et son Labyrinthe avec l’auteur
Thome, Diane (1995). Reflections on Collaborative Process and Compositional Revolution
Tiffon, Vincent (2003). La partition, le phonographe et l’échantillonneur : usages de la copie en musique
Tiffon, Vincent (2004). La musique mixte: avenir de la musique électroacoustic?
Torra-Mattenklot, Caroline (2000). Illusionnisme musical
Truax, Barry (1986). Computer Music Language Design and the Composing Process
Truax, Barry (1992a). Electroacoustic Music and the Soundscape: The Inner and Outer World
Truax, Barry (1996b). Soundscape, Acoustic Communication and Environmental Sound Composition
Truax, Barry (1996d). Sounds and Sources in {Powers of Two} Towards a Contemporary Myth
Truax, Barry (1998b). Letter to a 25 year-old electroacoustic composer
Truax, Barry (1999c). Sonology: A Questionable Science Revisited
Truax, Barry (2001c). Time and Electroacoustic Music
Truax, Barry (2002a). Electroacoustic Music and the Digital Future
Twombly, Kristian (2002). Oppositional Dialectics in Joji Yuasa’s {The Sea Darkens}
Ungeheuer, Elena, Decroupet, Pascal (1998). Through the Sensory Looking-glass: the Aesthetic and Serial Foundations of {Gesang des Jünglinge}
Vaggione, Horacio (1995). About the Electroacoustic Approach: Situations, Perspectives
Vaggione, Horacio (1998a). L’espace composable. Sur quelques catégories opératoires dans la musique électroacoustique
Vaggione, Horacio (2002). Décorrélation microtemporelle, morphologies et figurations spatiales
VALENTINO, Roberto (1986). Le altre elettroniche (Other electronics)
Vande Gorne, Annette (1995). Une histoire de la musique électroacoustique
Vande Gorne, Annette (1998). Les deux côtés du miroir : la mariée est-elle trop belle ?
Vandenbogaerde, Fernand (1977). De la diffusion des musiques électroacoustiques
Vandenheede, Jan (1992). Jonathan Harvey’s {Ritual Melodies}
Vaughan, Mike (1994). The Human-Machine Interface in Electroacoustic Music Composition
Veitl, Anne (2001). Les musiques électroacoustiques et la politique culturelle : repères historiques
Verin, Nicolas (1998). Spatialisation : interprétation, composition, improvisation ?
Vidal, Jack (1975). Les Deux lieux communs sur le rapport image-son
Vidolin, Alvise (1995). Documentazione, conservazione e restauro dei beni musicali elettronici (Conservation, documentation and restoration of electronic musical assets)
Vinay, Gianfranco (2003). La ’’recherche’’ de François Bayle. Portrait de l’artiste
Waters, Simon (2000b). Beyond the Acousmatic: Hybrid Tendencies in Electroacoustic Music
Waters, Simon (2006). Making the Archive and Archiving the Making: insights and outcomes from a major research project
Weale, Rob (2005a). The Intention/Reception Project: Investigating Composer Intention and Listener Response in Electroacoustic Compositions
Weale, Rob (2005b). The Intention/Reception Project: Investigating the Relationship Between Composer Intention and Listener Response in Electroacoustic Compositions
Weale, Rob (2006). Discovering How Accessible Electroacoustic Music Can Be: the Intention/Reception project
Windsor, W. Luke (1994). Using Auditory Information for Events in Electroacoustic Music
Windsor, W. Luke (2000). Through and Around the Acousmatic: The Interpretation of Electroacoustic Sounds
Wishart, Trevor (1986a). Sound Symbols and Landscapes
Wishart, Trevor (1992). Music and Technology: Problems and Perspectives
Wishart, Trevor (1996a). On Sonic Art - Revised Edition
Xenakis, Iannis (1959). Note sur un “geste électronique”

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