Concrete on the other side of the puddle

Subject: Concrete on the other side of the puddle
Date: Sun Feb 14 1999 - 08:19:26 EST

>Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 13:35:52 +0100
>From: favory jean baptiste <>

> [snip] ... Quant au termes pour désigner
>la musique électroacoustique c'est toujours, remarquons le, le terme le
>plus large qui soit lorsqu'on ne sait pas à qui l'on parle, et surtout de
>quelle "école" fait plus ou moins partie notre interlocuteur.

Regarding terms to denote ea, ... it depends upon who you are talking too.

> [ snip ] ... Mais je crois qu'il serait intérressant
>de savoir ce qu'en pense les compositeurs d'outre Atlantique, ils n'ont
>peut-être pas notre esprit Cartésien, et notre attachement historique à la
>pensée de P. Schaeffer. Ils vont sûrement nous renseigner sur ce que l'on
>dit là-bas...

But I think it would be interesting to know what composers on the other
side of the Atlantic think, they may be of our Cartesian spirit, or have
our historic attachment to the ideas of P Schaeffer.


Two places to start would be Joel Chadabe's "Electric Sound" (Prentice
Hall, 1997), and 22 years of Computer Music Journal. It seems quite clear
to me that in "Electric Sound", since P Schaeffer and the term 'musique
concrete' appear on only 12 of the 350 pages, (acousmatic doesn't appear)
the detailing of the differences is not of major concern.

Joel's book (one of the only relatively up-to-date overviews of a large
part of the field and history of ea/cm), is becoming a major reference
for the english speaking world. I do not mean to imply that musique
concrete (as a term) is, or has become marginalized, but rather that ES's
approach to the field views Schaeffer as one of many who were heading in
the same direction.

>From the Artaud quote, or even more so, as Francis Bacon wrote in New
Atlantis (1624) ...

 We have also soundhouses, where we practice and demonstrate all sounds,
 and their generation. We have howrmonies which you have not, of
 quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of
 music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than you have; together
 with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small
 sounds as great and deep; likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp;
 we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds, which in their
 original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds
 and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have
 certain helps which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly.
 We have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the
 voice many times, as it were tossing it: and some that give back
 the voice louder than it came; some shriller, and some deeper; yea
 some rendering the voice differing in the letters or articulate
 sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds
 in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.

(He even managed to predict THONK!).

French readers and speakers have had the advantage over the years of
having access to Schaeffer's seminal writings on a theory and system of
classification. Smalley's proposal for a codification in terms of
spectromorphology is a good starting place in english, and there has been
considerable work on extending and refinings some of the base concepts.
One major extension of the concept has been to apply it to sounds other
than those created from concrete sources.

There appears to be the amalgam of a prose form with analog synthesis
concepts in the development of his morphological models. (As Hugh Le
Caine mentioned in a seminar in 1970, the aspect of spectrum is poorly
understood, and this is possibly reflected in the weakness of analog
spectral processors, and the delayed development of a comprehensive
spectral typology.)

Smalley's proposed 'motion typology' is parallel (in some ways) to the
glossary of gestural types proposed by Istvan Anhalt in "Alternative
Voices" (Univ of Toronto Press, 1984), an analytical model that Anhalt
had been developing from the late 60s.

(It needs to be pointed out that Anhalt had been in communication with
Schaeffer and had visited Paris to 'see' the research that Schaeffer had
amassed in the early 60s. At one time Anhalt expressed disappointment that
he had been unable to gain access to the supporting documentation that
Schaeffer had collected to support his writings.)

And musique concrete has exploded into a variety of domains and types,
from soundscaping and acoustic ecology, to sonic objects (and exploration
of the object), to acousmatics, sampling, dB, and playing with
turntables, which is where we came in ...



flowers and choclates for all

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