Narrative

Musicology of Electroacoustic Music [MEM]  >  Discourse within Electroacoustic Music  ]

Simultaneously with the widespread availability of digital tools in the early-mid 1980s, many signifying practices - visual arts, dance, electroacoustic music - which had for some time been characterised by self-reflexive ’abstract’ work began to show a more explicit interest in various forms of narrative. From an acknowledgement that a work can explicitly document its own making it is a relatively small step to incorporating anecdotal, or programmatic-illustrative elements, and, encouraged by the sampler’s propensity for quotation and cross-referencing between works, histories, cultures and genres, it is easy to see that narratives, particularly of the fractured or non-linear variety, may emerge as a fruitful speculative playground.

Clearly the references to narrative here function in music at levels beyond the programmatic-illustrative mode with which we are familiar from much nineteenth century composition. In order to clarify the different possible relations to narrative which might be invoked in the case of electroacoustic music it may be useful to establish a crude heuristic taxonomy of ’narratives’ in order to avoid confusion:

- Narrative 1 (involving literal, semantically significant text)
- Narrative 2 (programmatic-illustrative)
- Narrative 3 (documentary-anecdotal)
- Narrative 4 (documentation of compositional process)
- Narrative 5 (use of structural or semantic strategies from natural language, or which are more frequently associated with the linguistic realm)

(Source - Simon Waters "The musical process in the age of digital intervention" http://www.ariada.uea.ac.uk)

 

See also:

Abstract Sound, Acousmatic, Anecdotal Composition, Radiophonics, Reduced Listening, Referential Sound, Sampling, Transcontextuality

 

Bibliography:

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