Music as a Plastic Art
Music, Noise, And Musing About Noising
Pierre Schaeffer considered calling this nacent electroacoustic art 'plastic music' (and with it 'plastic sound'), but wanted to take a stance in opposition to a trend he regarded as overly formalised music (serial systems for instance), and so countered it with 'Musique Concrète'. The name caused mass confusion to non-French speakers, but that seems to have settled down these days.
Acousmatics, the form I lean towards, also has hotly argued definitions. Happily, I think of what I do as a plastic art, like film and painting, so I can usually avoid the debate.
I can say my research projects are significant and far reaching. They're informed by my undergraduate studies in neural science, a keen interest in systems theory, Gibsonian (ecological) psychology and its philosophical forbear, phenomenology. Most importantly I keep an ear out for what's here. Sometimes I like to get skilled intuitive players, like free improvisors, and ask them to mimic auditory scores.
This is more thoroughly discussed in an article at eContact!. Initially the idea arose from the notion of the open text. (Eco). It explores ways to disjoint the form and redistribute the binding tensions, shifting a larger portion to the player and the listeners' ears.
At its most pure, my studio work is organic. Some sounds are attractive either for their own intrinsic qualities or their associations with life, or usually both. I record them, listen, and find what I can that needs to be brought to the surface.
In the same way as studio practice, the purest form of free improvisation is by far my favorite. I love sitting down with other people and finding where my voice will fit best. Maybe it's a bit of trumpet, maybe it's an imposing silence. I like improvisational strategies as well, but the peaks offered in free are very high.
Field recording, like landscape photography, can provide a unique point of view within a record of the world around us. The very act of gathering sound dramatically changes, informs, and reorients the way the recordist listens, and therefore, thinks, hears and chooses the how the record will be taken.
What others say:
Rick Nance’s thoroughgoing investigation of ‘various shapes and masses of different metals… as they radiated summer heat into a block of frozen carbon dioxide’ presents some scintillating sounds, leaving me with a desire to know more about the techniques: his website gives away little of his alchemy.
"Is that what you hear in your head?"
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It's not completely without interest.
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