1st Edition

Living Electronic Music

ISBN 9780754655480
Published July 27, 2007 by Routledge
216 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

Drawing on recent ideas that explore new environments and the changing situations of composition and performance, Simon Emmerson provides a significant contribution to the study of contemporary music, bridging history, aesthetics and the ideas behind evolving performance practices. Whether created in a studio or performed on stage, how does electronic music reflect what is live and living? What is it to perform 'live' in the age of the laptop? Many performer-composers draw upon a 'library' of materials, some created beforehand in a studio, some coded 'on the fly', others 'plundered' from the widest possible range of sources. But others refuse to abandon traditionally 'created and structured' electroacoustic work. Lying behind this maelstrom of activity is the perennial relationship to 'theory', that is, ideas, principles and practices that somehow lie behind composers' and performers' actions. Some composers claim they just 'respond' to sound and compose 'with their ears', while others use models and analogies of previously 'non-musical' processes. It is evident that in such new musical practices the human body has a new relationship to the sound. There is a historical dimension to this, for since the earliest electroacoustic experiments in 1948 the body has been celebrated or sublimated in a strange 'dance' of forces in which it has never quite gone away but rarely been overtly present. The relationship of the body performing to the spaces around has also undergone a revolution as the source of sound production has shifted to the loudspeaker. Emmerson considers these issues in the framework of our increasingly 'acousmatic' world in which we cannot see the source of the sounds we hear.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface and introduction: 'between disciplines'; Living presence; The reanimation of the world: relocating the 'live'; The human body in electroacoustic music: sublimated or celebrated?; 'Playing space': towards an aesthetics of live electronics; To input the live: microphones and other human activity transducers; Diffusion-projection: the grain of the loudspeaker; References; Index.

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Simon Emmerson is Professor in Music, Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.


'Simon Emmerson’s book provides an important new perspective on key aspects of the electroacoustic medium which hitherto have not received the attention they deserve. The product of meticulous and probing research, this critical account is both insightful and thought-provoking, not least in terms of the deeply informed discussion of key works within this rich and ever-growing legacy, and the often overlooked issues of performance practice associated with their dissemination. It fills an important gap in the literature, successfully communicating both to the more specialist reader and also those new to this distinctive and significant medium of creativity.' Peter Manning, Durham University, UK 'Simon Emmerson's new book is a superb exploration of how we perceive and understand today's technology-based music. He draws a historical line pointing out that music has evolved from the obvious efforts of people playing mechanical instruments to music that seems to happen without human effort. He then explores the ways in which we understand this new musical universe, populated by sounds that are produced by technology and seem to simply happen with no apparent cause. He discusses the relationships of these sounds to the real world, our perception of the new musical space in which these sounds exist, and our understandings of this new music through real-life 'models'. Illuminating and insightful, this book is clearly the result of years of creativity and reflection and it will lead a reader to new depths of understanding of the musical revolution that is happening around us.' Joel Chadabe, State University of New York at Albany, USA ’...Offering many new ideas, the author bases his insights on extensive research and cites scholars from a wide range of disciplines as well as illustrative works from the electro-acoustic canon...This is an important book on a neglected topic...Highly recommended.’ Choice ’a direct and careful treatise about the performance, practice