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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Camargo, Lucio Edilberto Cuellar (2000). The Development of Electroacoustic Music in Colombia, 1965-1999: An Introduction
Camilleri, Lelio (1999). Le bruit organisé
Castanet, Pierre-Albert (2001b). Luc Ferrari: Mnemosyne mise à nu
Castanet, Pierre-Albert (2002). Le jeu des “contraires tangibles”: de quelques “accidents passagers” dans l’art sonore de Gilles Racot
Castanet, Pierre-Albert (2003). La musique “convulsive” d’Ivo Malec: d’un geste pluriel, l’acte unique
Caux, Jacqueline, Delalande, François, Gayou, Evelyne, Teruggi, Daniel (2002). {Presque rien} avec Luc Ferrari
Chagas, Paulo (2006). The blindness paradigm: The visibility and invisibility of the body
Chiarucci, Henri, Reibel, Guy (1968). Techniques et manipulations en musique électroacoustique
Chion, Michel (1972). Vingt années de musique électro-acoustique
Chion, Michel (1977). Sous l’œil des membranes
Chion, Michel (1982). La musique électroacoustique
Chion, Michel (1986a). Une ontologie de la musique concrète
Chion, Michel (1991). L’art des sons fixés ou la musique concrètement
Chion, Michel (1994). Musique, Médias et Technologies
Chion, Michel (1998a). Les deux espaces de la musique concrète
Chion, Michel (2003). Pierre Henry
Chouvel, Jean-Marc (2004). Du son à la forme: les nouvelles stratégies compositionnelles issues du studio de musique électroacoustique
Cisinski, Michaël (2001). Le compositeur, l’outil et la trace historique
Clarke, Michael (1999b). Revisiting {Kontakte}: Issues of History, Performance and Intuition
Clozier, Christian (1995). The Aesthetic Situation and Outlook of Electroacoustic Music. Related Question: a Definition of Electroacoustic Music
Clozier, Christian (1998). Un instrument de diffusion : le gmebaphone
Clozier, Christian, Leipp, Emile (1975a). Le groupe de musique expérimental de Bourges
Clozier, Christian, Leipp, Emile (1975b). Discussion
Cochini, Roger (2003). Musique électroacoustique et service public
Copeland, Darren (2003). Survival Strategies for Electroacoustic Music
Coupigny, Francis (2001). Sous la direction de Pierre Schaeffer : repères pour un parcours inventif
Couprie, Pierre (2001a). Donner un élan pour l’écoute de Sud
Couprie, Pierre (2001b). Transcription globale : introduction à la représentation
Couprie, Pierre (2001c). Un modèle pour l’analyse des musiques électroacoustiques
Couprie, Pierre (2003). Une typologie des séquences libres dans {Lumina}
Couprie, Pierre (2004a). La place de l’informatique et du multimédia dans l’analyse des musiques électroacoustiques
Couprie, Pierre (2004c). Des outils pour l’analyse de la musique électroacoustique
Courchene, Kim S. (2001). A Conversation with Beatriz Ferreyra
Courribet, Benoît (2005). Réflexions sur les relations musique/video et stratégies de mapping pour MAXMSP/Jitter
CREMASCHI, Andrea (2005). Parola-suono-silenzio: {Guai ai gelidi mostri} di Luigi Nono (Word-sound-silence: {Guai ai gelidi mostri} by Luigi Nono)
Cremaschi, Andrea, Giomi, Francesco (2004). Parrole: Berio’s Words on Music Technology
Cross, Lowell M. (1967). A bibliography of electronic music
D’Escrivan, Julio (1989). Reflections on the Poetics of Time in Electoacoustic Music
Dack, John (2002a). Histories and Ideologies of Synthesis
Dack, John (2003b). Sound, Installations and Music
Dack, John (2004). “Open” Forms and the Computer
Dahlhaus, Carl (1990). Problèmes esthétiques de la musique électronique
Dal Farra, Ricardo (2006b). Something Lost, Something Hidden, Something Found: electroacoustic music by Latin American composers
Dashow, James (2002). Looking into Sequence Symbols
Davidovsky, Mario, Ortiz, Pablo (1990). Entretien avec Mario Davidovsky
Davies, Hugh (1964). A Discography of Electronic Music and {Musique Concrète}
Davies, Hugh (1966). A Discography of Electronic Music and {Musique Concrète}: Supplement
Davies, Hugh (1968). International Electronic Music Catalog
Davies, Hugh (1986). Storia ed evoluzione degli strumenti musicali elettronici (Historical evolution of electronic music instruments)
Davies, Hugh (1992). New Musical Instruments in the Computer Age: Amplified Performance Systems and Related Examples of Low-level Technology
DE LA VEGA, Aurelio (1965). En torno a la música electrónica
Decroupet, Pascal, Ungeheuer, Elena (2002). Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and Serial Foundations of {Gesang der Jünglinge}
Delalande, François (1986a). En l’absence de partition : le cas singulier de l’analyse de la musique électro-acoustique
Delalande, François (1993). Analyser le style en musique électro-acoustique : approximation et pluralité en analyse comparative
Delalande, François (1996). Musique électroacoustique, coupure et continuité
Delalande, François (2001). Qu’est-ce que l’électroacoustique ?
Delalande, François (2002a). {Aquatisme}
Delalande, François (2003a). Le paradigme électroacoustique
Delalande, François, Formosa, Marcel, Frémiot, Marcel, Gobin, Pascal, Malbosc, Pierre, Mandelbrojt, Jacques, Pedler, Emmanuel (1996). Les unités sémiotiques temporelles
Delalande, François, Gayou, Evelyne (2001). Xenakis et le GRM

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