Re: Lack of clarity regarding the term EA, clarification

Subject: Re: Lack of clarity regarding the term EA, clarification
From: Steve Layton (
Date: Wed Mar 02 2005 - 10:58:36 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kevin Austin" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2005 3:03 AM
Subject: Re: Lack of clarity regarding the term EA, clarification

> In October of 1989, Michael Century wrote in his opening remarks to
> the CEC Conference in Banff Alberta:
> Electroacoustics is not at all a unified field, and varying views are
> held concerning its relationship with "conventional" music practice.
> One thing is held in common, and that is its material -- the use of
> electricity to make sounds, or (in my view, this must be included) to
> plan, process or symbolically represent sound structures.


This and the other definitions given in the post really seem to be looking
through the wrong end of the telescope. It's pretty obvious how the term
"electroacoustic" was coined; "acoustic" stood in for any and all sounds,
musical and "non-musical", manipulated beyond their naturally-occuring
context, i.e. without needing to regard the natural or human physical
complex (action, place, context) they normally occur in. One way to acheive
this is to be able to capture some kind of facsimile of the sounds from
their natural "habitat". Once the cylinder recorder was invented, a kind of
"EA" became possible (even without the actual "E"), though the limitations
were too great for it to amount to much of anything. The way to easily and
practically accomplish the full spectrum of choice and manipulation was
shown through electromagnetic recording, hence the "electro" part of the

The term arose from it's heritage, like many others do. But at it's heart is
neither electricity or acoustics, electricity being only one way (though so
far clearly the best) medium to enable this way of working, and "acoustic"
being automatically involved in any sound-based perception. What is really
at the core is that transposition of nature, that lifting out of "natural"
context of any and all sound, to all be available together as the medium for
the creation of a piece of sound art. Traditional "music" itself is a subset
of this larger concept; both it and electroacoustic art stake out areas
(some separate, some overlapping) on the same spectrum.

Steve Layton

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