Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap and back

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap and back
Date: Mon Jul 19 2004 - 10:01:44 EDT

I'm getting something out of this discussion, but I'm still not quite sure
what's your point. To start with, if you're not trying to change my view,
what's the point of talking to me? To hear yourself talk? I hope that what
you say will change my view -- either by converting me to your view, or by
deepening my understanding of my own view, or in some other way bringing me
closer to the truth.

I don't agree that film and video carry no stylistic baggage. The
difference between an opera on stage and a film of the same opera on stage
is staggering (cf. The Magic Flute on stage and in Bergman's film). That
difference is an artistic difference, a stylistic difference -- a
constraint on styles, if you will. I just think we're so used to film and
video now, that we don't see the forest for the trees. The same is true, in
my view, of music coming out of loudspeakers. It limits stylistic
possibilities in some directions, expands them in others. You can't have
the same dynamic range, there's an inevitable tinge of distortion, and
you're not (usually) looking at the performers (or you're looking at a film
or video of them). On the other hand, you can zoom in and get a more
detailed hearing, you can exclude all distractions from audience and hall,
you can turn it up or down, etc.

Original Message:
From: Kevin Austin
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004 01:17:09 -0400
Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap and back

At 00:26 -0400 2004/07/19, Michael Gogins wrote:
>This "electroacoustic" term has always bothered me.

This is clear.

>I don't think Robert Normandeau and the Rolling Stones are both "ea"
>because they both depend on tape.

I didn't make reference to what is called 'fixed media' (tape), but
rather the presence of the loudspeaker. I'm not asking you to accept
my view a being 'your view'. I have no difficulty with your not
seeing them as both being ea, and I'm not concerned with trying to
change the way you perceive the world and structure and interpret
your perceptions.

>The Stones are doing with tape (more or less, there is a grey area)
>what earlier musicians used to do without it,

... and in a very fundamental way they are doing what earlier
musicians did without electricity and loudspeakers; they are
wandering minstrels, singing songs, entertaining those who hear them
and have text as a basis of their (chamber) music. They come from a
long a distinguished performance tradition. They could (almost) be
19th century musicians, except that had they performed in the 19th
century, a number of fundamental aspects would have been different.

A primary one is that through the use of electronic technologies,
representations of the sounds that they make can be held and
transported through time and space. And it turns out that most of
people's experience if the RS's is with the representation of their
sound being delivered as a 'fixed object', through loudspeakers.

My proposition is that "delivery through loudspeakers" =
electroacoustics. Language aspects of what the sounds are and how
they form and transpire is another matter.

There are commonalities -- fixed object presented via an electronic
signal being transduced by a loudspeaker -- and differences.

The 'differences' that have here abouts been pointed to as being
"electroacoustic" have roots in sound art, and sound art extensions.
Xenakis made sounds with an orchestra that have been called
electroacoustic, partly because the listener had no vocabulary to
describe those orchestral screechings, and often because they were
heard through loudspeakers (with the associated loss of connectivity
to people scraping strings and stuff).

There can be points showing local similarities (say on the order of
10 - 35 ms), and showing middle ground and large scale formal

Popular (western) music forms until 30 years ago were largely limited
to one tempo, one meter and around 3 minutes. This was so accepted
that Phil Spector had to lie about the duration of The Righteous
Brothers "You've lost that loving feeling", in order to get air play.

How many advertisers want to wait 27 minutes until a piece that may
sound like the soundtrack to Alien II ends so that they can say "And
cool out this summer with great savings on ...".

I was considering what an ad for Diet Pepsi would sound like if
composed by Anton Bruckner while he was composing his Eighth
Symphony, or what the Grosse Fuge would sound like with Mick playing
first fiddle.

My point being that there are no more "electroacoustic sounds" as
there are "film images". Film carries images, and one can argue about
the images (but one tends not to argue about the delivery), and in
the environment in which I travel, the loudspeaker is the common

One may propose that "electroacoustic art music" is academic ... er
... am I missing something here? One may argue for the inclusion of
the 'art of the people' inside the academy. When this is done, IME,
it has been done by those who have not taught a thoroughly researched
78 hour course where only the surface is being touched (eg Art of
Fugue -- the summary of 35 years of compositional experience and

In 40 hours of listening to (studying) 2 1/2 hours of Phil Spector
(Back to Mono) or Cold Cut, Kid Koala, DJ Food or Amon Tobin, I will
have probably run out of things to say (your distance may vary), yet
I can listen to Pierrot Lunaire (choose your poison) for 40 hours and
still plumb other depths. (A limitation of my mind and perception?)

And IMV, this discussion gets left by the side of the road when the
term electroacoustic is called upon to represent only certain kinds
of sounds. But that's how I use the term and I accept that you do not
accept that premise, and that's ok by me.



> but Normandeau is certainly not.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Kevin Austin" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Sunday, July 18, 2004 9:06 PM
>Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap
>> And this started from the premise that electroacoustics is what comes
>> from a loudspeaker. The parallel (unmentioned) is that of film and
>> video which carry no stylistic connotations, and they too have no
>> performer 'present', the audience being (largely) passive observers
>> of "objects" (sic) which were produced (and 'fixed') prior to their
>> presentation.
>> Just as newsreel footage, the filming of a play, the creation of a 30
>> second commercial, a 4 minute pop music video, an interview, or the
>> 're-presentation' of a film via video are all film/video, --
>> soundscaping, documentary text, classical recording, radio spots, pop
>> (etc) music (and classical recordings), spoken books, etc or the
> > presentation of 'art sound' are all electroacoustic.
> >
> >
> >
> > Best
> >
> > Kevin

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