The Language of Electroacoustic Music
A book by Simon Emmerson (UK) .
An electroacoustic music composer working mostly with live electronics. It seems people like it and it’s a kind of must read in the eam world, but unfortunately I can’t really find any reviews about it. So, I’ll try to at least give a simple resumé.
It should be on your top10 if you’re interested in EAM music or wanna dig deeper into the electronic music sphere. The book was written 1986 but most of it’s part still offers a very inspiring and interesting reading.
What he does is following;
He starts out presenting his own analythical model for the relation of language material in eam music. “The possible relation of the sounds to associated or evoked images in the mind of the listener. We are concerned here not with how specific sources may evoke particular images but how the imagery evoked interacts with more abstract aspects of musical composition ” (p17)
So far so good.. To do this he draws up a language grid that has mimetic and aural musical discourse, representing two extremes where one of them dominates in each ‘corner’ (think of it as a horisontal line from left to right). It’s a way to approach electronic music or more specifically, one composition. (Mimesis = the imitative representation of nature and human behavior in art and literature).
Now he adds the next level to consider in this language grid; (the vertical line) where he talks about abstract and abstracted syntax as the two antipole. Basically it’s the way we interpret the difference in working method/approach between elektronische musik and musique concrete. “In practice these two utopian positions are rarely found in isolation, and many composers wander somewhat uneasily between the two”(p23).
So what does it really mean? I’d say it’s simply a choice of working methods
What does it sound like?
According to emmerson he’d put John Cage‘s Williams Mix up to the left in the grid as an example of aural discourse/ abstract syntax.
Here it is if you haven’t heard it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n1YFMZ3ZxI
Do you recognise all of the soundsources? Yes, it’s all cut up, why? It’s all about the method. What you hear is not really important but rather the method. In this case I ching based procedure was used both to determine the soundmaterial and organization.
Luc Ferrari’s presque rien no1 is the example of what emmerson place under mimetic discourse/ abstracted syntax.
Unfortunately I don’t have it at the moment but it’s basically a days recording on the french riviera a sunny summerday cut down to about 20min (if I remember correctly). I found this clip instead that you can listen to to get the idea of what it’s about.
even if you might not at first think of it as music I think it’s beautiful the way he captures a piece of a time gone by.