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 - 23:10:53 EST

>>It says nothing at all about the music and makes no distinctions
>>between the practices of EA and anything else that uses loudspeakers.

> Thank you. This is the position I have proposed all along -- if it is
> transduced by a loudspeaker, it is EA

Unless it's "anything else that uses loudspeakers," eg, the
weather report. I don't find it illuminating to describe
"eye on the sky" as "EA." Perhaps you need something like
"loudspeakeronics" rather than EA as a description of your interests.

> Eliot Handelman wrote:
>>Kevin Austin wrote:

> An acoustical characteristic of almost all ea is that it is point
> source in origin. In my experience, the experience of listening to a
> Beethoven quartet played live and produced through loudspeakers is
> not the same. The Bach/Carlos is a representation of the Invention (a
> minor) that does not exist in an acoustical form other than as it
> comes from loudspeakers.

Jonathan Crow, the concertmaster/soloist of the MSO was on my show,
and I played him some simulated orchestra stuff and asked him what he
thought. He made an interesting comment -- that it takes the creative
freedom and influence of the recording engineer to the next level. I
also asked him about the acoustics of Salle Wilfred Pelltier (the
major orchestral concert hall in montreal) and he said that it felt
fine while playing, but that listening was like "watching a movie," in
other words the sound is out there and you're over here in the
audience. So there are a couple of points in this. First, that
recording is just revealing itself to be continuous with composing,
through simulation -- surely, as well, in EA, a part of which always
does seem to me to be about simulation. Second, that the acoustic
experience is often a compromise to the ideal of performance, which to
my mind is always best served by immersion (I think it's in the nature
of music). In other words, the acoustic experience is an aspiration
rather than a category. And that leads to the further thought that the
only real distinction worth making in music is the conflict between
the vision of what might happen and what does happen, and that there's
no way to adumbrate that conflict (I haven't heard the word
"adumbrate" since the early 90s, forgive me).

> I have no difficulty
> with my proposed 'definition' of ea, and to date no one has proposed
> a "better' more comprehensive, clearer or more articulate

It's as good as describing quattrocento painting as "the application
of smearable pigmented matter to a surface," or "it uses brushes."

It's a creative cop-out, Kevin, and you need something better.

Jim Randall once showed me a music appreciation book he was reading
for a course on writing about music, that described the opening of the
Beethoven 9 as "a sustained dominant pedal." "That really says what in
that opening contributed to this piece coming to be known as the
crowning achievement of western music, doesn't it?" he asked.

-- eliot

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