Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap
Date: Wed Jul 21 2004 - 17:27:38 EDT

Just because most music people now listen to is made using computers, that
by no means implies there is no need for the term "computer music."

There is still a huge difference between the stylistic possibilities open
to music made with computers versus music not so made. Therefore, music
historians of the future will need this term to adequately deal with the
changes in music after 1958, even if all the music they listen to in their
own time is made with computers and not called "computer music" by the
general public or even contemporary critics.

Original Message:
From: Stephen David Beck
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 14:57:08 -0500
Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap

There was a fascinating article in the Computer Art exhibition book
from last year's SIGGRAPH conference that has some relevance here. The
article was entitled "Will there be computer art in 2020?"

The point of the article was not (as you might imagine) that people
will stop using computers to make art, and therefore there will be no
computer art. The point was more akin to what we are talking about
here: that by 2020, all art will be created, mediated, stored or
distributed with the full or partial assistance of computers. If all
art is mediated somehow by computer, then everything is computer art.
If all art is computer art, then the term "computer art" has lost its
relevance and becomes meaningless.

Music, in all of it's forms, has already reached this point. When
Edison invented wax cylinder recordings, he did so to create a
permanent document of an otherwise temporal event, sound. And in the
"popular" music world, audio recordings were done to document live
performances. They might have been live in a studio, but they were
done live, with band members playing all together, etc.

In the "serious" music world, composers were using the recording as a
new medium unto itself. But still you had two different kinds of
descriptors: those that described the aesthetic (musique concrete,
elektronische musik), and those that described the technology
(electronic music, computer music).

When Sgt. Pepper was recorded, it changed everything in the popular
world. Slowly, but surely, recordings were no longer about documenting
live performance. Albums became a performance medium of their own.
Around the same time as the advent of digital recordings and music
videos, listeners began to expect the reverse of Edison's documentation
paradigm: that the live concert be a document (replication) of the
studio recording. With that, we now have Janet, Britney, Beyonce, and
Justin all lip-syncing or using many tracks from their studio
recordings as filler for their "live" concerts. (Makes me long for
Pheobe's faux folk songs at Central Perk).

As all music is now recorded, mediated, stored, and/or disseminated by
digital means, the terms electronic music, computer music,
electroacoustic music have lost their previous meanings. As we have
seen in these postings, almost anything can now be called computer
music, or electroacoustic music.

These terms have become meaningless in the same way that there will be
no computer art in 2020. An aesthetics-based descriptor will be much
more successful in grouping and categorizing music genres than
descriptors based on technologies.

On Jul 19, 2004, at 2:34 PM, wrote:

> Acoustic music -- music played without electronics or amplifiction,
> e.g. a
> live Robert Johnson or J.S. Bach performance.
> Amplified music -- music played without electronics, except for
> amplification, e.g. early Bob Dylan on stage with a P.A.
> Electric music -- music played with electrically augmented instruments,
> typically electric guitars, e.g. late Bob Dylan on stage with an
> electric
> band.
> Electronic music -- music played with electronics but without software,
> necessarily including amplification, e.g. a Theremin recital.
> Computer music -- music played and/or composed with software:
> algorithmic
> synthesis, algorithmic composition, usually a mixture of algorithmic
> and
> manual composition with algorithmic synthesis.
> "electro-acoustic" could mean anything from "electronic and computer
> music"
> to "styles descending from musique concrete and early electronic
> music" to
> "all amplified and recorded music".

Stephen David Beck, Ph.D.
Interim Director, Laboratory for Creative Arts & Technologies
Center for Computation and Technology (CCT)
3rd Floor, Johnston Hall
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

e: sdbeck at lsu dot edu
p: (225) 578-2594
im: sdbeck
tm: 2252840124 at tmomail dot net

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