Subject: Re: Loud enough??
From: KEVIN AUSTIN (KAUSTIN@vax2.concordia.ca)
Date: Wed Mar 03 1999 - 06:29:43 EST
Bret continued ...
>Is it just a problem of less than ideal psychoacoustic planning, or is it
>something in the nature of EA music itself that makes it less forgiving of
>poor playback than, say, traditional acoustic classical music.
> Is it a
>matter of where the 'musical information' is focused? Can we establish an
>aesthetic in EA music that is not so dependent on high quality and high
>amplitude playback? Should we?
This often turns (IMV) upon the use of one word to reference two
different things: music and 'auditory scene analysis' (for want of a
better term). The current situation is that everything from MIDI
realizations of the Goldberg Variations to Presque Rien are labeled 'ea
There are many schools of thought that place the sonic event as being
conjunct to pitch organization. Milton Babbitt springs to mind, yet a close
listen to much (academic - sic) ea/cm created in the USA, will reveal the
historical lineage to Leuning and Ussachevsky (Hiller and Babbitt), while
a number of other 'national schools' grow from the 'sound first' side.
It may be a consideration _not_ to group together such works as Switched
on Bach (which is an electronic realization of pieces that have identity
independent of their sound), and Dhomont's Points de fuite: for while
contemporary terminology will call them both 'electroacoustic music',
consideration needs to be given, I believe, to central aspects that
create their 'identity'.
Simply at the level of the frequency domain, the identity of the Goldberg
Variations remains intact with a band pass of 60 - 1,200 Hz (given that
the lowest note is not below C2 [cello CC], or above G6. It could be said
that the Goldbergs retain their identity even in the presence of no sound
whatsoever. A performance could therefore be understood as 'a'
realization of the piece.
To band limit a piece by Jonty Harrison would be to lose elements of its
identity very quickly. (The visual analogies possible here are strong.)
With acousmatic pieces, the 'sound' is the piece. (??)
On the 'traditional' front, composers will often comment upon a 'reading
of the note' (even without correct dynamics or phrasing), and in these
instances, the audience has been known to blame the composer for a 'dull
Trevor Wishart makes important conjectures regarding these ideas
comprehensive book "On Sonic Art" -- good reading. [Harwood Academic
Publishers ISBN: 3-7186-5846. They may still have the discount offer for
readers of <cecdiscuss>].
And regarding education, traditional (acoustic music composition
students) learn about instruments and instrumental techniques: ea/cm
students need a solid grounding in basic acoustics and psychoacoustics to
be able to grapple with some of the points that you make.
March storm coming in -- rain, freezing rain, wet snow, sleet and hail --
just another day on the urban tundra.
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