Re: Prix XX

Subject: Re: Prix XX
From: Lawrence Casserley (
Date: Wed Jul 07 1999 - 19:29:26 EDT

Eric wrote:

>I think the one thing possibly dividing things into academic and otherwise
>is what goes into it before hand. Generally an academic CD is composed and
>there are all kinds of considerations towards techniques, methods and so
>forth. More specifically it often is more concerned with the methods of
>creation and the atomistic viewing of each element. While the more
>'popular' trends tend to be self taught and concerned with the end sounds,
>not so often composed but improvised, and learning about methods by trying
>them out. More of a gut feeling than a cerebral one. These are very black
>and white opposite extremes examples, and as anyone should now, in real
>life one almost never sees the two extremes of duality but rather a mixture
>of the two.

Big snip!!

>If someone takes the same piece of slow moving
>electronic sounds and packages it alternately as 'dark ambient sounds to
>relax your mind' with a pretty and forboding picture on the front, or as
>'computer music created at such and such University' with liner notes
>explaining all the algorhythms used to generate the sound, which one do you
>think people are likely to think might be approachable and something that
>they want to listen to? The later example tends to appeal only to other
>computer music composers which we know is a limited market often strapped
>for cash to invest in listening. Eventually it would probably get
>discovered as some lost classic if it were really good, but it would take a
>lot longer. On the other hand, many academic composers have very similar
>motivations of expression as those not trained in the arts, which is why if
>you listen to the music out of the context of it's liner notes, cover
>picture, title or band name, a lot of it is pretty similiar.

I have a clear example of this in my duo CD with Evan Parker "Solar Wind"
- we recorded those pieces as part of an exploratory and experimental
work period with no attempt to appeal to anything other than our own
aesthetic conceptions. The intent of these sessions was to develop new
techniques in signal proceessing for improvised music. Only afterwards
did we consider this as CD material, and we were pleased when Touch were
interested in it. Their presentation was completely different to anything
I would have done -no technical notes, etc. Jon Wozencroft's designs were
his entirely - the only contribution I made were 4.5 of the track titles
and the Borges quote!

But the thing that astounded me has been the way this CD has appealed to
audiences I never imagined would be interested in my music. It is very
much this experience that has influenced some of my earlier comments on
this thread.

Another point is that Eric associates "academic" with "composed" and
"popular" with "improvised", which is IMV a doubtful association (but
mainly bacause the terms are not very well drawn). To refer to Evan again
- an improviser who has famously questioned the need for composers - he
is an intensely serious musician who states that he makes the music he
likes to make, not what some imaginary public may want. There is no sense
in which Evan's music can be described as "academic", but the purity,
rigour and thoroughness of his work will match that of many "academic"
composers, and I know many of them admire what he does. On the other
hand, I haven't noticed the Spice Girls improvising a lot!!!

Sorry if some of this sounds like blowing my own trumpet - that is not my
intention. I was genuinely surprised, and ultimately delighted, by
stumbling unintentionally into something I had not realised was there. I
think that option is available to many of us, and opens up many exciting
possibilities. It isn't "selling out" to "commercial" or "popular"
interests, it is simply recognising that the potential audience is larger
than one had imagined and looking at ways of reaching it more effectively.

Removing blinkers is the first step to wider vision - A Seer



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