Re: Lack of clarity regarding the term EA, clarification

Subject: Re: Lack of clarity regarding the term EA, clarification
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Thu Mar 17 2005 - 20:42:21 EST

Kevin Austin wrote:

> 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.
Now all he has to do is explain what he means by sound structures, ie
the part that we actually
listen to.

Without this, his statement is obvious and unilluminating -- the "coming
out of a louspeaker" creative cop-out.
It says nothing at all about the music and makes no distinctions between
the practices of EA and anything
else that uses loudspeakers.

Isn't it better just to say "we don't really know what EA is," instead
of setting up
a precedent for having students believe that vacuous statements are a
valid form of intellectual expression?
WOuld it be better to take three pieces and ask, "well what do they have
in common?" You might
actually learn something that way, at least about the three pieces.

I don't personally see any need for such a term anyway, because music is
music, and I have yet to
hear anything that seemed to suffer any more than it already did by
being called music.

One aspect of EA is "composing" reproducible sound, as opposed to
"using" reproducible sound. R. Barthes
made a famous distinction between "ecrivain" and the "ecrivant," the one
using language (eg, to tell a story),
the other somehow creating language -- the major example being Joyce in
the Wake. The story and the language,
so to speak, are inseperable.

Raskolnikov, in crime & punishm,ent, says "the genius gives to the world
a new word," and perhaps
something like this is meant in Barthe's distinction (which I haven't
read for a long time and I don't remember
rthe [partioculars).

If we were to apply this musically, we could apply it to the
reconceptualiztion of music, ie the composer
doesn't have a genre at his or her disposal but has to invent one with
each new piece.

It could also apply to fundamentally new treatements of sound or
listening, or the ideas
of "instrument," "composition," etc. As particularly applied to sound,
this might help clarify what might
be meant by EA. The fact that computers or electricty or whatnot is
used is not important.

-- eliot

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