Re: Solo ea ...

Subject: Re: Solo ea ...
From: Kevin Austin (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2005 - 13:00:12 EST

Using the model of 'energy analysis', the work has been 'front-end
loaded', that is, most of the energy has gone in before the name goes
on. (This is like the automobile industry where 65% of the energy
used in transportation is in the manufacturing process -- the major
environmental impact is in the manufacture, not the use. I think I
read somewhere that 25,000 gallons of hot water are used in the
manufacture of every car.)

At 09:46 -0500 2005/02/10, David Mooney wrote:
>Interesting thread.
>If a violin quartet is rendered via MIDI and played in a
>concert is it a solo EA work?

The 'solo' nature could be considered to be like a painter who brings
the 'finished work' out of the studio.

>Is it the manner of composition that makes it solo or the
>combination of sounds?

At Concordia, the EaSt program encounters this as it is in the
"Performing Arts Division". At some levels, studio-based ea has more
in common with film production than chamber music.

>If an EA piece uses, say, two distinct sounds/timbres, perhaps
>panned right and left, is this a solo work or a duet? "Duet for Car
>Horns and Dog Barks." Who is the "performer" of this tape piece?
>The dog? The tape recorder/cd player?

The relation(ships) between fixed media and 'performance' is part of
the (extended) discipline of electroacoustic studies.

As a concrete example for discussion I will propose the work "The
Map" by Tan Dun. Subtitled "A Multimedia Event in Rural China" - a
Concerto for Cello and Video -- the work began as Tan Dun and a video
camera with a recording engineer to achieve a high quality recording.

He taped many types of local (regional) performers. This material was
edited and then he composed an orchestral 'counterpoint' to the
materials (video and sonic). The video parts were not 'simply'
documentary but involved some (small) amounts of manipulation.

The 'performance' took place on a small lake -- the audience on one
side and the orchestra about 50 meters away across the water. Video
projectors were spaced around the area.

Being out of doors and across a body of water, the instruments were
amplified. Some of them, such as the two stones rapped together in
front of the percussionist's mouth had to be amplified even to be
heard in the orchestra.

This 'acoustic' performance was heard by the audience in an
electroacoustic mixed version. Balance and levels was responsibility
of the engineers working at the board. A multi-track recording was
also done.

At this point, the 'piece' becomes two independent objects. The
'performance' has taken place and will never (again) be the same. But
another piece rises from the entrails -- this is the DVD.

As an 'object', the work is produced in the studio. There were
multiple camera angles and the video parts (with sound interjections)
were available in their original forms, in their edited forms, and a
images captured from the screens.

Watching the DVD is to watch a studio-based montage of many different
'fixed media' sources. It can be stopped, slowed, reversed, re-viewed
... it does not have characteristics of live performance. As a DVD is
has become an independent (but related) piece.

>If a composer performs as part of the composition process, is
>playing back the resulting EA piece therefore a performance? Is
>listeing to a recording of a Liszt piano work a performance?

>Is there really any performer at all when an EA piece involves no
>live manipulation of sounds? And is that a problem (It isn't for me)?

It is not necessarily a problem unless ea (fixed-media) is to be
compared to and assessed in terms of 'performance' criteria.

One of the points that has been repeated around here is that
fixed-media ea is both the 'sounds' and the quality of the
presentation, and today almost all sound creators are responsible for
both the 'content' and the quality of the presentation. And the
'quality' aspect among the general public is extremely high, it being
set in cinema-sound situations.

Electroacoustic studies seems to need to broaden itself to include
excellence in the control of sounds and sound (re)production. The ea
student needs to learn how to make excellent recordings, or how to
work with those who can provide that skill.




>David Mooney

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