History of Electro-Acoustic Music by John McEvilly, published by Acousmatique.com
I would like to thank the following for their invaluable help:
Professor Jan Smaczny for his constant advice and encouragement throughout my course of studies.
Dr. Michael Alcorn for his valuable information on numerous topics.
Annette Vande Gorne, Jonty Harrison, Pierre Couprie, Douglas Doherty and Kevin Austin for their generous responses to questions posed via the Canadian Electroacoustic Discussion List.
Finally, my parents whose support made the completion of this study possible.
Source:John McEvilly's MA dissertation as a double module for the degree of MA in Music Technology at the Queenís University of Belfast.
Copyright by Queenís University and John McEvilly. All rights reserved.
'Music, in the harmonic sense of the word, has now attained its limit. The composer of the twentieth century will not go beyond it. We must wait at least two hundred years for a renewal in this direction. On the other hand, the other elements of music (especially rhythmic ones which have been forgotten for so long: duration, timbre, attack, intensity) are now restored to a position of honour.í 
From many points of view Messiaenís apocalyptic opinions concerning the fate of music appear particularly relevant to the field of electroacoustic music.  The disintegration of traditional tonal harmony as a prime structural agent precipitated an increasing reliance on other musical elements. To extend slightly Messiaenís statement; timbre, rhythm, duration, attack and intensity are now accorded more significance in many branches of modern composition than are melody and tonal harmony. The restoration of these elements to their 'position of honourí, as Messiaen terms it, has been impelled partly by technological advance. However, the impact of technology on modern music has resulted in much more than a mere emphasis on apparently neglected musical elements. The facility to record sound has offered the modern composer: '...an acoustic palette as wide as that of the environment itselfí.  The materials available to the composer may now extend beyond what has been conventionally understood as musical. Sounds of everyday life may be presented as part of, or even as, a musical work. This raises many important questions about both composition and reception of the musical work in modern music.
The breakdown of tonality, the increasing primacy of timbre and the inclusion of what might be considered traditionally, and socially, 'un-musical' materials are issues of vital importance in the practice and historiography of contemporary music as a whole and electroacoustic music in particular. This study will consider these issues; all of which are central to the composition, performance and reception of electroacoustic music. Attention will focus on electroacoustic music in the tape medium as this represents, in many respects, the most undiluted form of the genre. Chapter 1 examines electroacoustic terminology, a useful starting point since it provides a context for a more detailed examination of issues in later chapters. The various terms employed to describe electroacoustic music are evaluated on the basis of their success in representing the methods and intentions of composers and the response of listeners. Chapter 2 considers the composition of electroacoustic music; the range of materials and language available to the composer is discussed as is the freedom of the composer to choose from a vastly expanded array of musical materials. Chapter 3 is concerned with the reception of electroacoustic music on tape. Differences in listening behaviour between listeners and composers are discussed in relation to the extent they contribute to problems of reception. Materials and language are revisited as it is attempted to explore the affect materials themselves have on reception. Finally, the way listeners perceive an electroacoustic work is explored and the impact this may have on composition is evaluated.
1.1 A Brief Survey of Electroacoustic Terminology
1.1.0 A categorisation of electroacoustic terms
An interesting exercise when examining electroacoustic music is the surveying of the terminology its composers use to define and describe the field within which they work. Different descriptions may reveal something of the language, materials or technology involved in composing and listening to electroacoustic music. The need for an adequate descriptive metalanguage was, and still is, important for a medium that purports to be a complete break with traditional musical practice. While not attempting to overemphasise the significance of terminology, descriptive labels can reveal the different aesthetic directions taken by composers. Another important property of terminology is an inevitable historical association and the implications for any historiographic study of the subject. Thus, a brief survey of the major terms employed will, in effect, identify significant developments in electroacoustic music since 1948.
A common-sense approach to the categorisation of electroacoustic terminology is provided by Annette Vande Gorne in her article Les mots pour le dire.  She places terms in three different categories as follows:
Musique concrËte, Electronic, Organised Sound, Experimental, Electroacoustic, Audio Art, Acousmatic.
Tape Music, Computer Music, Mixed Music, Live Electronics, Interactive music, Multimedia.
Abstract: þtudes, suites.
Figurative: Film, Ballet music, 'Soundscape', Environmental music, Cinema for the Ear, Music with text (melodrama  radiophonic)
Historical Genres: Cantata, Mass, Opera.
Vande Gorne's first category includes terms that provide a logical starting point when discussing electroacoustic terminology. In the late 1990s, terms such as Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik are almost entirely historical in their significance. The Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik schools, in Paris and Cologne respectively, represented the tangible beginnings of electroacoustic music.  These schools came into existence during a period of extreme reaction to the western art music tradition. These were idealistic times, the horrors of the second World War having had the most negative of impacts on the western musical tradition. Composers of this era, such as Stockhausen and Schaeffer, felt compelled to create music by and from new means. This involved a rejection of traditional musical values in favour of more experimental and avant-garde approaches to composition. Stockhausen compared the state of music at the middle of the century to the condition of post-war Germany:
The cities are razed, we must rebuild music from the ground up. 
This modernist agenda found its spiritual home at the composition summer school which met at Darmstadt.  Advances in technology, as a result of the war, also added impetus to these radical changes in aesthetic. The facility to create and reproduce sound by electrical means offered the possibility to circumvent traditional musical practice. Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik thus represented an ideal means of achieving a complete break with the past.
At the dawn of this new medium aesthetic and technique were bound together to an extremely high degree - largely as a result of the huge technical limitations facing early pioneers. In many ways the basic technology of this era dictated compositional practice. Schaefferís Musique concrËte was initially realised by the physical manipulation of source recordings encoded on wax disc. The bond with this recording medium became so close that: '...the introduction of the tape recorder was viewed with considerable misgivings.í.  The tape recorder, as with any advance in technology, offered more sophisticated facilities and greater ease of use. This heightened sophistication resulted in new techniques that challenged a compositional theory based on simple manipulations of microphone recordings. In Cologne, the use of a sine-tone generator not only suggested, but demanded a different compositional practice. This technology was ideal for the extension of the serialist technique into the realm of timbre; just as the twelve chromatic tones could be organised into tone rows, now, by electronic means, timbre could be created and controlled by the addition and subtraction of sine waves - the most basic physical constituent of sound.
Musique concrËte may be defined simply as music composed by the manipulation of microphone recordings of natural sound. However, for Pierre Schaeffer, the instigator of Musique concrËte in Paris, the term also described not only the recording of sound but also the method of composition. Musique concrËte represented a complete reversal in compositional technique from traditional practice. The composer now began with the concrete (the recorded sound) and proceeded to the abstract (musical structures).  Any recorded sound could be used in composition; Schaeffer termed the recorded sound 'líobjet sonoreí (sound object). To understand how a composer could achieve musical structures using this working method it is necessary to explain Schaefferís other major conception - 'Ècoute reduite' (reduced listening). Schaeffer insisted that new listening procedures were imperative for Musique concrËte. He proposed 'Ècoute rÈduite' in which the listener would focus on the internal structure of sounds divorced from social context. This involved the listener removing 'líobjet sonoreí from its perceived social context and listening in an abstract 'musicalí way to the acoustic properties of sounds, i.e. amplitude envelope, density, mass etc. This was to be of limited success as it proved impossible for listeners, with all their accumulated cultural baggage, to listen in an abstract way purely because a sound had been recorded thereby removing it from its conventional association. Associative or referential listening was and still is an inescapable feature of many listenerís intentions when receiving this music. This issue will be returned to during Chapter 3 in a discussion concerning the reception and criticism of electroacoustic tape music.
The technology and aesthetic of Elektronische Musik offer a stark contrast to that of Musique concrËte. Music at the Cologne studio was created by synthesising sound from first principles. This was achieved primarily by Sine-Tone generators.  Cologne composers, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Herbert Eimert, were of the view that a pure electronic serialism would create a new music completely unrelated to traditional forms and timbres. Eimert, in particular, saw no reason in creating timbres that would imitate 'naturalí or instrumental sounds; instead he sought to effect a musical syntax based on completely new timbres. In this new electronic medium timbral and spatial aspects of composition could be controlled by serial procedures to an extraordinarily high degree. Stockhausen's early electronic works, Studie 1 and Studie 2, use serial procedures to control timbre and timbral progressions. In Studie 2 Stockhausen employed serial procedures to control spatial considerations of timbre. Sound reverberation was treated as an integral constituent of timbre and was thus subject to serial control similar to that applied to any other musical parameter. However, the attempt to create completely 'newí timbres was also a failure. The sound world of Stockhausenís early Cologne studies were strongly associated with bell-like timbres.
Stockhausen's Gesang der J¸nglinge (1955-56), created some four years after the inception of the Darmstadt school, is a seminal work in the electroacoustic repertoire. It managed to blur the distinction between Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik by integrating the natural sound of a boy's voice with synthesised materials. However, as Emmerson (1981) rightly points out, the significance of Gesang der J¸nglinge has been misinterpreted.  The generally held view of various authors is that the Cologne and Paris schools converged in Gesang der J¸nglinge.  This is an overly convenient interpretation. The reality was that, in Gesang, Stockhausen was still employing serial procedures to organise musical materials - a method that was complete anathema to the more perceptually oriented proponents of Musique concrËte. One has only to remember Schaeffer's dictum 'PrimautÈ de líoreille!í(Primacy to the Ear!) to understand that from a creative perspective the schools had not converged as a result of the highly calculated structural basis of Gesang. The use of serialist procedures was still traditional in essence because its application of abstract ideas to the medium was closely analogous to conventional modernist composition. The concrËte method of composition was in marked contrast with normal practice of a composer starting with the abstract (idea) which is written in a score and then realised in performance by musicians. In many ways the music of Cologne could be interpreted as being an extension of this musical tradition as it was still based on a serialist methods. For concrËte musicians, whose working method brought the composer in direct contact with musical materials, this was unacceptable. Schaeffer advocated an approach to composition that was based on '... the potential for evolution of the ear, and at the same time the limits, for all new music stems from the resources of the ear.í  He elaborated this idea by expressing a preference for real acoustical sources over exclusively electronic sounds. His reasoning was based on the reality that our ears had been conditioned by our experiences to respond to natural sounds.
While Gesang der J¸nglinge did not represent a real convergence of compositional method it exposed the fact that it was increasingly difficult to continue with terms such as Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik. Most historical sources regard Gesang der J¸nglinge as the first 'electroacoustic' work.  This label was one of convenience purely because the work did not fit easily into either of the above categories. Since then, this more generic term has come into widespread use.  As the medium has developed from the extremities of the early schools this term has proved to have many benefits, the chief being that it does not make a distinction between the origin of sounds whether natural or synthetic. Attention is drawn to the perception of sound as part of the listening process instead of the means by which the sounds are produced.  However, despite a widespread approval of the term in electroacoustic circles, Manning points out various difficulties. Electroacoustic is a term of French origin. This presents difficulties to English speakers since it is not in general musical or even colloquial usage, unlike terms such as 'electronicí and 'computerí. The term suggests to the listening public that the medium is Èlitist and esoteric. Concern about the use of the term has even been raised by composers within the medium. Francis Dhomont is particularly critical:
This single term has come to designate an infinite number of sound realisations with little in common aside from their reliance on electricity. 
He also cites Michel Chionís criticism of the term:
The term electroacoustic music has expanded to such a degree that it has become a meaningless catch-all. 
Dhomont is concerned the term reveals little of what we may expect to hear, and its use is simply analogous to the use of acoustic music to define the entire traditional repertoire.
These difficulties with the epithet 'electroacoustic music' were partly responsible for the creation of a more specific term. In 1974, the composer FranÁois Bayle, used the term 'acousmatic music' to differentiate his work in the tape medium from real-time electronic performance. Bayleís 'acousmatic musicí was employed to define a specific type of music that was 'shot and developed in the studio, projected in halls, like cinema'. Acousmatic derives from the Greek, akousma, a word pertaining to auditory perception.  It was originally used by Pythagoras to describe the manner in which he delivered his lectures. Pythagoras stood behind a black curtain so that his students could only hear the content of his lecture - the source was unseen. In doing this Pythagoras forced his listeners to concentrate their mental faculties on the content of his lecture. At the beginning of the century another definition is provided in the French dictionary Le Larousse pour tous:
Acousmate. n. (from the Greek Akousma, what is heard). Imaginary sound, or of which the cause is not seen. 
The term was revived in the 1950's by the writer JÈrÙme Peignot to define 'líobjet sonore' or the sound object. Peignot used acousmatic to mean 'a sound that we can hear without knowing its cause' and to designate 'the distance that separates a sound from its origins'.  Bayle's use of the term acousmatic not only describes the medium, i.e. tape only, but also reveals common aesthetic intentions of many composers involved in the medium. Since the term has come into existence a stylistic association has developed between composers from different countries who write mainly for tape. These composers comprise those at the GRM studios Paris, the French Quebecois school e.g. Francis Dhomont, Robert Normandeau, etc., several British composers, e.g. Jonty Harrison, Denis Smalley, etc. and the Belgian school of Annette Vande Gorne.
The term 'Electronic music', in contrast to the more specific Cologne definition, is one that also has had widespread usage and approval. Otto Lueningís definition of the term is comprehensive:
Electronic music is a generic term describing music that uses electronically generated sound or sound modified by electronic means, which may or may not be accompanied by live voices or musical instruments, and which may be delivered live or through speakers. 
This definition is useful in that it covers the wide variety of genres that exist within the electronic medium. Luening's definition falls into Vande Gorne's second category, that of 'Instrumental' terms. Terms in her 'Instrumental' category are applicable when exploring Luening's definition. Tape music and real-time performance represent the two main modes of expression. These are far from independent genres and often exist side by side in musical compositions. Tape music, the original genre, i.e.Musique concrËte, creates music by recording and manipulating sounds on tape. Real-time performance involves the modification of live or transcribed natural sounds and/or the use of pre-recorded material.  Lueningís definition also poses certain problems. In making a distinction between natural and synthetic materials, and describing electroacoustic music by its means of transmission, the perceptual qualities of sound, as experienced through listening, are not addressed. 'Computer music' also faces similar disadvantages. This term has also become another convenient and meaningless umbrella label for every form or genre in the medium.
Vande Gorneís final category is that of genre. The terms relevant to this study are 'CinÈma pour líoreilleí (Cinema for the Ear) and Radiophonic. These are specific genres within the tape medium pointing to different compositional trends within the electroacoustic field. 'CinÈma pour líoreilleí is a particular acousmatic genre that places emphasis on the use of everyday or recognisable sounds which may or may not be transformed in the studio. These sounds can be used as symbols, as metaphors if the piece is more narrative or can have an abstract function in a more traditionally 'musicalí discourse.  Ambiguity of the senses is a frequent feature of this genre. Certain works of the QuÈbecois composer Robert Normandeau exhibit this ambiguity in which sound objects may be regarded simultaneously as 'everydayí or appreciated in an abstract musical manner, for example works such as Rumeurs, Place de Ransbeck and Tangram. This form of composition resonates with the Kantian Ding an Sich.  Kant believed that we can only know things as they appear to us, not as they are in themselves. The ambiguity of acousmatic genres such as 'CinÈma pour líoreilleí play on our ability to know or appear to know things.
Radiophonic works comprise another genre which has extremely close ties with Musique concrËte and acousmatic music. There is a fluid frontier between creative radio and the aforementioned genres. The same techniques (montage) and resources are used in a range of expressions specific to radio. This can be experienced in H–rspiel (Kagel, Ferrari), the work of Farabet and Yann ParanthoÎn for Radio France and finally, Diane Maheux and Francis Dhomont for Radio-Canada. This concludes a brief survey of the major terms employed within the electroacoustic medium. It is hoped a context has now been established which aids the following discussion concerning the composition and reception of electroacoustic tape music in the following chapters.
'The situation of composition today is marked by a dimension of freedom we have never had before. The composer's freedom as regards selection and structuring of musical elements means freedom to choose. The aesthetic field is in theory wide open.í1
H–ller's comments have a particular resonance for the composition of electroacoustic music. The new freedom in composition, influenced significantly by technology, has forced composers to define, ab initio, their own materials and language. This contrasts sharply with much of the Western Art Music tradition in which composers worked within, to a greater or lesser degree, a lingua franca.. Paradoxically, the freedom contemporary composers enjoy today may be viewed as a natural extension of the Romantic aesthetic. The cult of the composer, his veneration as genius or spiritual hero are Romantic ideas that created an artistic climate in which the composer was expected to cultivate greater freedom of expression.2 Today, this freedom of expression may extend beyond shared social and cultural understandings of the terms 'music' and 'musical'. This is not an ideal state of affairs. While technology has brought certain freedoms it has also placed the extraordinary demand on composers of defining their own language. T.W. Adorno suggests that these demands, which result in a disjunction between composer and audience, may be understood in cultural terms:
Radical music, from its inception, reacted to the commercial depravity of the traditional idiom. It formulated an antithesis against the extension of the culture industry into its own domain.3
Electroacoustic music may be considered 'radical musicí in Adornoís terms. It lies at the extremes of new music as its: '...material laws seem to preclude the subjective intervention of the composer, just as they preclude that of the interpreterí.4 Adorno suggests that the essence of 'radical music' lies in its self-exclusion from mass commercialisation. This proposal appears to hold some truth but is not entirely satisfactory. Adorno perceives 'radical music' as a 'reaction' to commercialisation. While this 'reaction' may be audible in the 'experimental' sound of much contemporary music, it is not certain that the motivating factor for musical creativity is purely the 'commercial depravity of the traditional idiom.' The role of technology, and more specifically, the facility to record and manipulate sound, may be a far more significant catalyst in the creative process. With the help of technology the composer now possesses the means, in theory, to employ all humanly perceivable sound. These possibilities provide the opportunity for composers to push music beyond traditional definitions. As H–ller has stated, the aesthetic field is, in theory, wide open.
This chapter is concerned with the composition of electroacoustic music on tape.5 The tape medium represents the purest form of electroacoustic music and raises issues that are viewed as relevant to both the medium itself and contemporary music in general. In many ways electroacoustic music is '... aesthetically a laboratory for musical problems ...'.6 This 'laboratory' has highlighted issues of language and materials that are relevant for nearly all contemporary composers - including those who write in more traditional media. This chapter will comprise two parts: the first will explore the new musical materials available to electroacoustic composers by making reference to the search for new materials in the period c.1900-1945; the second part will examine how a musical language may develop from these materials in the tape medium.
The facility to record sound offers the electroacoustic composer '...an acoustic palette as wide as that of the environment itself.'7 Any sound can be stored on a fixed medium through the recording process, (Michel Chion has described this phenomenon as 'sono-fixation').8 This advance in technology challenges the primacy of materials that have been traditionally perceived as 'musicalí. Electroacoustic tape music may include not only pitched (periodic sound) materials but also noise (aperiodic sound).9 The use of noise, as musical material, deserves more attention. 'Un-musical', noise sounds are very often the previously experienced sounds of everyday life. The sounds of cars, planes, trains and other common environmental phenomena provide 'musical' material for many composers in the medium. An aesthetic background for this expansion in musical materials may be traced to the period c.1910-1945. The Futurist movement and composers such as Edgar VarËse and John Cage represent a current of thought characterised by the search for new materials and modes of expression aided by an ever-evolving technology.
2.1.2 The Futurists
The Futurist movement never produced a musical work as such but provided instead a body of writing that articulated a radical musical aesthetic.10 The most relevant publication for electroacoustic composers was The Art of Noises (1911) by Luigi Russolo. It proposed composition based on the use of natural sounds from the environment:
Musical sound is too limited in qualitative variety of timbre...we must break out of this narrow circle of pure musical sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise sounds.11
Russolo's comments are significant for the importance they attach to the use of noise as musical material and the way in which they prefigure the work of Pierre Schaefferís Musique concrËte. However, in practical terms, the ideas of the Futurists were a failure. Two concerts were staged in 1913 and 1914, both in Milan, on instruments specially developed by the movement.12 They met with little success but the significance of the Futurist movement does not lie in its practical legacy. Far more important was their challenge to traditional modes of musical thought; the prominence they gave to the relationship between the laws of acoustics and the art of music. This challenge resonates strongly with Adornoís theories on new music. His two extremes in modern music, that of 'emancipated expressivenessí (a Romantic inheritance) and technology (in the practice of electronic music), may be seen as unified in the aesthetic of the Futurist movement.13 The connection of new technology and greater freedom of expression in musical materials became a more realistic possibility as a result of the Futurist movement.
2.1.3 Edgar VarËse
The pioneering work of the French composer, Edgar VarËse (1883-1965), an iconic figure in the development of electroacoustic music, anticipated and promoted many aesthetic and technical developments in the pre-war era. VarËse expressed dissatisfaction with conventional instrumental resources and searched for new means of expression. In contrast to the Futurists he produced musical works that explored rhythm and timbre in a genuinely new way. Ionisation (1931), in particular, is a striking example of this new music. It is scored almost entirely for unpitched instruments with definite pitches only making an appearance in the final 17 bars of the work. Even when pitch material is introduced it is not in the traditional, tonal sense. Pitch is strongly identified as a constituent of timbre, taking the form of repeated piano clusters and three chords which are distributed between piano, glockenspiel and tubular bells. The sound world of Ionisation and VarËse's other pre-war orchestral works led Olivier Messiaen to herald him as a composer who wrote electronic music before it existed.14 VarËse preferred to define music as 'organised sound', a term that characterises his liberal attitude towards possible musical material. He also had a rather enigmatic way of expressing his musical intentions and stated his desire for new means of expression as early as 1922:
...what we want is an instrument that will give continuous sound at any pitch. The composer and electrician will have to labour together to get it .... Speed and synthesis are characteristics of our own epoch.15
However, it was not possible for VarËse to write the music he desired because of inadequate technology in the pre-war years. During the twenties and thirties he attempted to establish a scientific laboratory that would explore sound and thus create new means of expression. Unfortunately these attempts proved fruitless due to a combination of factors, the most important being the severe economic depression the United States suffered during this period.
2.1.4 John Cage
The final major figure of significance to the development of electroacoustic music considered here is John Cage (1912-1992). His comments are particularly relevant when discussing the materials employed in electroacoustic music. In 1937 he stated:
I believe that the use of noise... to make noise... will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments... which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard.... Whereas in the past, the point of disagreement has been between dissonance and consonance, it will be, in the immediate future between noise and so-called musical sounds.16
Cage, in many ways, anticipated questions concerning the relationship of language to materials. The boundaries of debate would be culturally defined (noise and so-called musical material) and not only internally 'musical' (consonance and dissonance). Cage was questioning the very essence of music itself by highlighting the reality that it would soon be possible to capture and manipulate any sound. This meant the validity of traditional conceptions of material were open to challenge. However, it was not until after the second World War, and the arrival of the recording process, that this debate became a reality for early pioneers in the electronic medium.
2.2.1 Compositional method and Musique concrËte
The impact of technology is clearly evident in the composition of electroacoustic tape music: sound is recorded and/or synthesised and then manipulated to create musical structures directly. The composer interacts with musical material in a concrete fashion. Harrison emphasises that this new relationship of composer and material is a dimension of Schaeffer's Musique concrËte often ignored in the English-speaking world:
Among English speakers, the term Musique concrËte, has usually been taken to mean only that the sounds used were 'realí, recorded from acoustic sources via microphone...In the French-speaking world...it is widely understood that a further dimension of what was 'concreteí about Musique concrËte was also the working method employed.17
Francis Dhomont articulates the Schaefferian method of composition in the following comments:
This original compositional method begins with the concrete (pure sound matter) and proceeds towards the abstract (musical structures) - hence the name Musique concrËte - in reverse of what takes place in instrumental writing, where one starts with concepts (abstract) and ends with performance (concrete).18
It is clear from Dhomontís outline that aural perception assumes great significance not only by those who regard their music as descended from Schaeffer but also electroacoustic music as a whole. Irrespective of particular schools of electroacoustic composition, the notation of musical ideas on paper by the composer, may be, and often is, completely by-passed as materials are approached by composers in a more concrete way based on perceptual criteria. The increased importance of the immediacy of the ear has been evident since the beginning of the medium. One has only to remember Schaeffer's first postulate for the creation of Musique concrËte: PrimautÈ de l'oreille!, (Primacy to the ear!).19 The ear is elevated to a position of honour as tape music is constructed more perceptually than music of the past. Harrison reinforces this view in the following comments:
The arbiter of this process is the ear, the composer engaging in a feedback loop with the material and the contexts in which it is placed at every stage...If something 'worksí or 'sounds rightí it needs no further justification in that musical context, as the compositional speculation has been proved experimentally (experientially, perceptually).20
These comments are central to the composition and development of languages of electroacoustic musical discourse. The medium itself demands a working method which insures that the composer experiences his/her music in a concrete way. Another feature of this music is that 'out-of-timeí analysis, as with written scores, is impossible. Aural perception becomes the highest authority and functions to dismantle the trend to view analysis as the inverse of composition.
Schaeffer's other great cry was Recherche d'un langage!, (Search for a language!).21 He stressed that new musical structures must insure communication between composer and listener. The nature of the medium itself presents its own challenges to composers striving for a coherent musical language. The electroacoustic tape medium forces a new listening experience which in turn demands new compositional practices. This listening environment is now one of sounds whose source is unseen. Performers are not required to realise, through interpretation of a score, a piece of music. Instead, a work exists on fixed media presented via loudspeakers. It is also possible to consider various computer data and graphic representations, which result from the technology employed in composition, of electroacoustic works as being analogous to traditional scores. However, while this type of data is intrinsic to the creation of an electroacoustic musical work it is not required for musical performance.
2.2.2 Languages of Electroacoustic Music
The focus of this chapter is the composition of electroacoustic music on tape. To this end a useful guide to the variety of discourse possible within the medium is provided by Simon Emmerson in his article, 'The Relation of Language to Materialsí.22 Emmerson outlines two poles of musical discourse, mimetic and aural. The term 'mimesisí is used to describe not only the imitation of nature but also the traditionally, 'un-musicalí material employed in electroacoustic tape music. 'Mimesisí is further divided into two types - 'timbral and 'syntacticí mimesis: 1)'timbralí mimesis being a direct imitation of the timbre ('colourí) of the natural sound and 2) 'syntacticí mimesis may imitate the relationships between natural events e.g. speech rhythms. Both types of mimesis have been variously combined in 'programmeí music or in the programmatic elements of traditional musical composition.
The use of natural sounds increases the possibility that they may sound imitative which in turn threatens traditional distinctions between 'musicalí and 'un-musicalí sounds; Emmerson elaborates on what is perhaps the most significant quality of the medium in the following comments:
It is at this point that the composer must take into account audience response; he may intend the listener to forget or ignore the origins of the sounds yet fail in his aim...The listener is confronted with two conflicting arguments: the more abstract musical discourse (intended by the composer) of interacting sounds and their patterns, and the almost cinematic stream of images of real objects being, hit, scraped or otherwise being set in motion. This duality is not new...24
Emmerson provides evidence supporting his opinion that this duality is not a recent phenomenon by using the example of the argument that Berliozís Symphonie Fantastique is a better work than Beethovenís Battle Symphony, because the Berlioz has more 'abstract musicalí substance which achieves a better balance with its programme (mimetic content). This evidence plus the comments in the cited quotation lead him to define 'aural discourseí separately from 'mimetic discourseí while concluding that the two combine to comprise the entirety of 'musical discourseí. Emmerson qualifies this distinction in approaches to language by admitting that 'mimeticí and 'aural ' discourse never exist in ideal forms. These approaches create a continuum of possibilities between two poles: at one extreme, mimetic discourse is the dominant aspect in perception; at the other extreme, perception remains quite independent of much direct mimetic interpretation.
With the designation of two overlapping and interdependent modes of discourse established, Emmerson proceeds to define methods of creating musical syntax in the medium. Again two poles are identified; these are termed 'abstractí and 'abstractedí syntax. The syntax of a work on tape may be 'abstractedí from the materials in some way, whether through 'reduced listeningí e.g. Musique concrËte, or through attention to the organisation of sounds in the environment (for example the environmental compositions of Luc Ferrari and Claude Schryer). Alternatively, a syntax can be independently imposed upon sounds in an abstract manner as, for example, by the use of serial techniques in Elektronische Musik.
Using these two sets of oppositions as a framework, i.e. 'auralí and 'mimeticí discourse and 'abstractí and 'abstractedí syntax, Emmerson analyses a selection of works in the tape medium. Those works in which a mimetic discourse is dominant include Presque Rien, No.1 by Luc Ferrari and Trevor Wishartís Red Bird: Diary of a Political Prisoner. Ferrariís work consists of natural sounds recorded on a beach during the course of a day which are minimally edited and reduced in duration to about fifteen minutes. This syntax is understood to be abstracted from the materials. Red Bird, whose narrative syntax attempts to capture the intense emotional turmoil of a political prisoner is imposed on materials strong in mimetic qualities, is regarded as an abstract syntax. Works in which an aural discourse is dominant include those realised at the GRM studios in Paris by composers such as Ivo Malec, FranÁois Bayle and Denis Smalley, and Stockhausenís early Cologne works. Smalleyís Pentes is cited as an example of how a predominately aural discourse may be abstracted from the materials themselves; in this case the sound of Northumbrian pipes and percussive instruments. This contrasts sharply with the aforementioned early electronic studies of Stockhausen in which 'abstractí serial procedures are imposed on the musical material also with the intention of creating a purely 'auralí discourse.
However, difficulties with Emmersonís approach become more pronounced when an attempt is made to designate works as a combination of aural and mimetic discourse which are created from an abstract and/or abstracted syntax. Examples provided by Emmerson include works such as Dedans-Dehors by Bernard Parmegiani, Dreamsong by Michael Mc Nabb and La Fabrica Illuminata by Luigi Nono. These diverse works do not fit neatly into Emmersonís aural/mimetic, abstract/abstracted combination of categories; they are an extremely complex mixture of disparate sounds, methods and agendas. One has to admire Emmersonís attempt to refine the initially crude distinction between aural and mimetic discourse by considering whether the creation of a workís syntax is abstract and/or abstracted from the materials. However, his acknowledgement that aural and mimetic discourse do not exist in pure forms - the reality of human perception - means a degree of ambiguity already exists within these categories. The nature of this ambiguity in terms of perception, and not compositional techniques and intentions, needs to be addressed before creating further categories derived from his original postulation.
The emphasis in Emmersonís analyses is upon the extent compositional methods may be understood in relation to the materials employed. However, as Windsor (1995) rightly points out:
...although Emmerson stresses the role of perception in defining whether syntax may be abstract or abstracted, and discourse mimetic or aural, his analysis remains firmly in the realm of function as opposed to perception.25
Emmersonís analysis of electroacoustic tape works, while illuminating from a compositional perspective, tell little of the way a work may be perceived by the listener. An aural discourse intended by the composer may just as easily be perceived 'mimeticallyí by the listener; equally, a mimetic discourse may be perceived 'aurallyí. This paradox may be understood in a case in which a 'narrativeí structure may be perceived by the listener whether or not serial procedures are used to organise the material, while the imposition of a 'narrativeí structure by a composer arguably depends on connecting with the shared cultural and social experiences of the composerís audience.26 These issues of perception, highlighted by Emmersonís efforts at a survey of compositional practice, lead neatly to the following chapter concerning the reception and criticism of electroacoustic tape music.
'Collective perception is the basis of musical objectification itself, and when this latter is no longer possible, it is necessarily degraded almost to a fiction - to the arrogance of the aesthetic subject, which says ìweî while in reality it is still only ìIî - and this ìIî can say nothing at all without positing the ìweî.1
Adornoís comments, concerning the chasm separating modern instrumental music from its audience, are equally pertinent to the reception and criticism of electroacoustic tape music. 'Collective perceptioní, the bond (for want of a better description) between the composer and the listening public has been eroded by a considerable amount of electroacoustic music. The materials and languages employed by many composers in the medium, and even the physical nature of the medium itself, confronts traditional musical aesthetics with new issues. As has been already stated, a lingua franca does not exist and composers must define their own musical language from all sound - musical or extra-musical. The greatly extended array of musical materials available to electroacoustic composers only serves to emphasise the split between the 'Ií and 'weí which Adorno originally identified in the case of Schoenbergís serialism.2 'Collective perceptioní in the tape medium, from which 'musical objectificationí can occur, appears to revolve around the primacy of mimetic interpretation by listeners over more abstract musical concerns. An exploration of the challenges that emanate from this 'Ií and 'weí - the relationship between a work of art and the listener - will attempt to examine the barriers towards 'musical objectificationí associated with music in the medium.
3.1 Composition and Reception
3.1.1 Compositional method and reception
The assessment of material and processes is made through the perceptual response of the composer as 'first listenerí, in a process based on actual (concrete) aural experience, and using the ear/brain mechanism most immediately to hand (the composerís) as representative of the (presumably similar, though not identical) mechanisms of other human beings.3
Harrisonís comments appear to form the basis of an all too convenient lingua franca, between composers and listeners, in the perception of electroacoustic works. He highlights the degree to which compositional methods in the medium are based on aural perception which, it is argued, is similar to the aural perception of listeners. However, the presumption that similar modes of listening exist among composers and listeners is problematic. Jean-Jacques Nattiez uncovers these difficulties when discussing Schaefferís 'Ècoute rÈduiteí.4 He understands this Schaefferian idea as describing sound less in terms of its origin than in terms of its heard morphological qualities (its amplitude envelope, frequency, density, mass etc.). This concept is still relevant to the way many contemporary composers approach their materials. However, the situation of the composer as 'first listenerí causes its own problems. Nattiez describes the difference between 'hearing as experienced by the composer, who hears sounds with great attentiveness before integrating them into a workí and 'habituated, ordinary hearingí.5 The type of specialised listening which composers experience, an inevitable result of their concrete compositional working methods, appears to contribute to the disjunction between composer and listener; the mediation of the specialised listening conditions experienced by composers and 'normalí conditions experienced by listeners is a central communicative issue facing the medium.
3.1.2 Listening practice
The 'habituated, ordinary hearingí of listeners merits further discussion as it is central to an understanding of the reception of this music. Robert Erickson in Sound Structure in Music provides a valuable insight into these listening habits - albeit only in relation to conventional musical material.6 He describes musical perception as a process of recognition and identification:
When we recognise or identify a sound we are in fact classifying it. To recognise the sound made by a violin is to assign it to a class. And classifying means making categories.7
What is most important, in the light of this discussion, is Ericksonís belief that 1) nothing is absolute about the type or number of categories and 2) the manner in which listeners categorise is contingent on the situation, their background and training etc. In attempting to apply Ericksonís theory to electroacoustic works on tape it is conceivable that listeners may create categories for unconventional extra-musical material. However, the creation of such categories would be entirely dependent on the socio-cultural background of the individual listener. The issue once more reverts to materials; the use of everyday, environmental sounds by composers challenges the listenerís classification of sound as either musical or extra-musical. The basis of such a classification emanates from the social and cultural experience of the listener which may, or may not, include musical training and/or previous exposure to such works. Paradoxically, musical training may be disadvantageous when listening to electroacoustic tape works as quite often it inculcates a natural resistance to unconventional musical material. This trend in listening neatly coincides with Adornoís views on why listeners may find modern music repulsive:
The deepest currents present in this music proceed, however, from exactly those sociological and anthropological foundations peculiar to that public. The dissonances which horrify them testify to their own conditions; for that reason alone do they find them unbearable.8
Adorno argues that modern music is perceived as repulsive because it is an uncomfortable manifestation of the cultural and social conditions of its own audience. This situation is emphasised by the facility to record sound; works may now actually employ social and cultural situations themselves as musical material. In this context, the creation of perceptual-musical categories by listeners is not entertained since traditional assumptions in relation to musical material are adopted; listening practice may be seen to be in conflict with composers who suggest listening categories not confined to conventional musical material.
In citing the observations of Paul Kolers, Erickson advances the argument from a mere classification of sounds to a means of reception for a musical work. Kolersí studies, in the area of visual perception, have a particular resonance for aural reception:
Once his (sic) input threshold is reached, the human will make something of the information. Unlike the computer the human program rarely fails to run. Although he may not be efficient, the human will do the best he can with what is presented to him, within the limits defined by the input and his modes of categorising.9
What is of interest here are the: '...limits defined by the input...[and the]... modes of categorisingí. These may be seen to represent both sides of the complex relationship between the art work and listener. The use made by composers of certain materials, which strongly lend themselves to mimetic interpretation, suggests listening categories that many listeners will not consider as musical. The primacy of mimesis in reception thus becomes a communication barrier for composers who wish to maintain a purely aural discourse.
3.1.3 The Primacy of Mimesis
The rise in use of extra-musical material, which directly emanated from the facility to record sound, may also be understood as an extension of the dominance timbre has exerted in modern music. The elevation of timbre to a plane equal to, if not greater than, rhythm, pitch and harmony is reflected in many branches of twentieth-century composition. An investigation of the increased structural force timbre has exercised in conventional instrumental and vocal music reveals its emergence from the dissolution of the traditional tonal system in the early years of this century. These developments are best understood when exploring the relationship between the music of late romanticism and the Second Viennese School.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century Wagner and Liszt greatly increased the scope of harmony and the rate of harmonic change. Wagner, in particular, stretched the structural force of tonality to an unprecedented level with extensive chromaticism and postponed resolution, notably in Tristan und Isolde (premiered, 1865). Increasingly, in the generation succeeding Wagner, composers had great difficulty in accommodating this heightened chromaticism in forms dependent on a tonal language. Schoenberg, Berg and Webernís eventual solution to these problems was serialism; music that was based on a serial ordering of all twelve chromatic pitches. However, what is of concern here is not serialism itself but rather developments which led to the designation of timbre as a significant musical parameter - equal to pitch, rhythm and harmony - and thus open to serial procedures.
Schoenbergís term Klangfarbenmelodie (sound-colour melody) denotes a succession of timbres related to one another in a way analogous to the relationship between pitches in a melody. A clear musical example of this theory is the third movement of his pre-serial Five Orchestral Pieces op.16 (1909), originally entitled Farben. The piece appears to suggest that the timbral transformation of a single pitch could be perceived as equivalent to the sequence of pitches in a traditional melody. Schoenbergís piece is significant, however, not for its success in realising his proposed aims, but rather for the reason that timbre functioned as a prime structural element in composition.
The dissolution of tonally based structures and the increasing importance of timbre constitute a serious departure from traditional musical aesthetics and, in some respects, the tendency appears to foreshadow the extension of materials to everyday, environmental sounds in electroacoustic music. This link is made more apparent in the writings of Robert Erickson. He makes some valuable observations on the changing role of timbre suggesting that the traditional function of timbre in Western music has been as a carrier of melodic functions:
The differences of timbre at different pitches and in different registers of instruments, and the different timbres produced by the voice singing different vowels (not to mention timbre differences in vocal registers) have been treated as nuances. The nuances have always been an extremely important source of those ìirregular irregularitiesî without which there would be no art at all; but in the fundamental structure of this music timbre has functioned as a carrier.10
Timbre in classical western music has been treated and viewed as a nuance, or an extra, applied feature subservient to melodic and harmonic considerations. This contrasts sharply with the primacy of timbre as a prime structural agent in much modern music. Erickson continues by suggesting that timbre functions no longer as a carrier but rather as a sound object itself:
Gross changes of pitch register, dynamics or articulation and the avoidance of stepwise motion and rhythmic regularity enhance the perception of contrasting sound objects.11
This statement encapsulates a fundamental aesthetic change relevant not only to electroacoustic music but also to a considerable amount of contemporary instrumental music. Definitions of music, it would appear, have become more closely aligned to the idea of 'sound objectsí than at any stage in musical history. This presents difficulties in the reception of this music because languages, in many cases, are based primarily on the control and contrast of timbre and not traditional concerns such as melody, rhythm and tonal harmony. Jeff Pressing highlights these difficulties:
...we know that one of the reasons that listeners show limited liking for contemporary art music is their inability to code it either on the basis of simple pitch or rhythmic structures, and hence assign it meaning.î12
These trends in reception, borne out of listening habits, represent challenges which composers must address. Denis Smalleyís theories on listening in electroacoustic music prescribe the nature of the relationship to be cultivated by composers with their audience. He states:
Listeners can only apprehend music if they discover a perceptual affinity with its material and structure. Such an affinity depends on the partnership between composer and listener mediated by aural perception.13
Communication between composer and listener would appear to depend on the degree to which the composer can 'tap intoí the perception of listeners. This means those composers wishing to maintain a purely abstract musical discourse face the greatest difficulties given the physical nature of the medium. Some form of mimetic interpretation is inevitable in medium where all data is aural and no conventional 'visual-musicalí stimulus is present. Smalley expands the idea of 'perceptual affinityí, in relation to listenersí perception of tape music, by describing the way listeners relate to sounds as:
...source bonding..: the natural tendency to relate sounds to supposed sources and causes, and to relate sounds to each other because they appear to have shared or associated origins.14
Smalley, however, does not advance the debate with labels such as 'source bondingí. This is merely an example of new terminology designed to describe old problems. The primacy of 'extra-musicalí, or mimetic interpretation, of what composers may intend as abstract musical discourse, has been evident since the origins of the medium. H.H. Stuckenschmidt, writing about Elektronische Musik, outlined the tendency to assign extra-musical associations and contexts for sounds not seen. While Stuckenschmidt was concerned with the music of the Cologne school his comments are still relevant for the medium in the modern era:
It cannot be denied that the associative effect, which the initiator denies of being of any relevance has been the principle reaction of the majority of listeners when faced with this music for the first time. There appears to be a considerable discrepancy between postulation and reception, a discrepancy which must be the very nature of the new art form.15
Adornoís views about the nature of modern music, and its relation to the canon of tradition, reflect Stuckenschmidtís concern with the: '...discrepancy between postulation and receptioní evident not only in Elektronische Musik but in the medium as a whole. The disjunction between the 'Ií and 'weí, which Adorno discusses in the context of 'The Antinomy of Modern Musicí, is relevant when considering the tape medium. He believes that while modern music is incapable of positive meaning within itself, its salvation lies in its negation of a mass commercialism which reduces music to the level of an economic commodity:
Its [Modern Music] truth appears guaranteed more by its denial of any meaning in organised society, of which it will have no part - accomplished by its own organised vacuity - than by any capability of positive meaning with itself. Under the present circumstances it is restricted to definitive negation.16
In the case of Elektronische Musik, the attempt to produce music from completely synthetic timbres which could be understood entirely in their own terms proved impossible. The synthetic timbres of Stockhausení s early electronic studies were inevitably received in terms of what they sound most similar to - in this case the sounds were perceived as bell-like timbres. On the other hand, the employment of natural sounds - in the expectation that they could be perceived purely for their abstract sonic characteristics - was also a failure. Schaefferís first work, þtude aux chemins de fer, highlighted major issues of extra-musical association in reception; instead of being a work in which abstract qualities of sound could be perceived in their own terms, the materials and their organisation were more associated with the sounds of trains and train stations.17 Schaefferís notion that a soundís context could be removed from that sound, 'Ècoute rÈduiteí, purely because it had been recorded, was not plausible. The trend in listening is to assign a sound to a source, real or imagined in the mind of the listener.
Both of the examples given above highlight the importance of Stuckenschmidtís '...discrepancy between postulation and receptioní and Adornoís 'collective perceptioní. Despite radically different intentions on behalf of major composers involved in the medium, in this case Stockhausen and Schaeffer, similar challenges associated in reconciling Adornoís 'Ií and 'weí were confronted. Adornoís thesis in the 'Antinomy of Modern Musicí would appear confirmed by the mimetic responses of listeners to both Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik. The real value of these genres was in their negation of the culture industry. The failure of Stockhausenís 'newí electronic timbres and Schaefferís 'Ècoute rÈduiteí, both hugely important trends in the medium - and still highly relevant for current electroacoustic music, is a result of, in part, the primacy of mimetic interpretation of material used by composers who intend a more abstract musical discourse.
3.1.4 Concrete and Abstract Listening
Adornoís disjunction between the 'Ií and 'weí is still evident in the music and theories of contemporary electroacoustic composers. Many composers, such as Smalley, Harrison and Dhomont, insist music in the medium must be listened to in a specialised manner. They place high demands on their audience, expecting their music to be perceived in a way that can only truly be achieved through the act of composition itself. Smalley best expresses this attitude in the following comments:
All sound possess...dual potential - the abstract and the concrete aspects of sound - and all musical structures are balanced somewhere between the two, although exactly how they are found to be balanced can vary greatly among listeners. This is because all listeners have considerable practice at the concrete aspects of daily life, while a more abstract approach needs to be acquired. However, a listener used to a more abstract perceptual attitude can easily disregard the mimetic dimension when interpreting sounds. Balancing abstract and concrete attitudes is therefore a question of both competence and intention.18
Smalley seeks to shift responsibility away from the composer and onto the listener. The 'competence and intentioní of the listener are brought into sharp focus. He believes it rests with the listener to decide whether a mimetic or abstract discourse is desirable. What is highly questionable, however, is the ability of listeners to 'easily disregard the mimetic dimension of interpreting soundí. It is possible that through 'Ècoute rÈduiteí an abstract approach can be acquired, but it is questionable whether this occurs at the expense of mimetic interpretation; the primacy of an abstract perception of sound over a more mimetic one may indeed be possible, but surely this is not to the exclusion of mimetic interpretations. Smalley appears to almost free the composer from responsibility for materials chosen. He suggests that if a trained listener has the ability to listen abstractly, and ignore the concrete dimension of sound, the concrete nature of such material becomes of diminished importance for that listener. While this may be true to a certain extent, the fact remains that the trained listener will still be conscious of the mimetic nature of material - an inescapable consequence of a medium in which a soundís source is unseen.
The inevitability of a mimetic interpretation of materials, especially Musique concrËte and its derivatives, has been heavily criticised by Pierre Boulez. He launches a scathing attack on the type of materials used by many composers in the medium:
...if the material, through previous use, is rich in connotations, if it stimulates involuntary associations and risks diverting expression into unwanted directions, one is led in practice into playing, if not absolutely against the material, then at least to the limits of its possibilities.19
This would appear to be a great danger for electroacoustic composition on tape. Composition could be reduced to a situation where a primary concern is the limitation of mimetic potential. However, the reality of the medium is that a purely abstract musical discourse is not possible for either composers or listeners. A combination of aural and mimetic perception is inevitable irrespective of the quality of a listenerís perception or even a composerís ability in the medium; the absence of visual clues as to the source of sounds sets the listener upon an irreversible course where sounds are assigned to a real or imagined source - musical or not.20 Boulez may be regarded as representing one side of the previously mentioned argument that Cage identified in the pre-war era relating to: '...the use of noise and so-called musical materialí, where noise can be understood as any 'un-musical soundí.21 He objects to the use of non-traditional musical material by prescribing what musical material should be in other words:
To lend itself to composition, musical material needs to be sufficiently susceptible to transformation, and capable of generating and sustaining a dialectic.22
Boulez believes Musique concrËte composers have ignored this in their selection of materials and that the capability of 'generating and sustaining a dialecticí with such unsuitable materials is impossible. However, Boulez appears to overlook the fact that the medium itself creates an environment where sounds are open to a greater degree of possible interpretations by listeners. The absence of traditional performers and presentation of musical works via loudspeakers creates unconventional musical listening conditions. These acousmatic conditions present new challenges, or, negatively, difficulties, as reception may veer - to a greater degree than experienced in traditional instrumental/vocal musical works - between an abstract musical discourse and a strongly mimetic one. Composers wishing to maintain a purely abstract musical discourse, using material which Boulez would regard: '..capable of generating and sustaining a dialecticí may well find their efforts frustrated by the inevitable mimetic interpretations of listeners denied the visual stimulus of conventional musical performance.
It becomes clear when returning to Smalleyís 'competence and intentioní of listeners, that this view is of fundamental importance to the reception of works in the medium. This appears to be the case almost irrespective of the material employed. Material which a composer may regard as strongly abstract in nature, or even sounds produced by conventional musical instruments, may still be interpreted extra-musically due to the physical nature of the medium. Eduard Hanslickís writings on the perception of musical works in the nineteenth century are still remarkably relevant for listeners of electroacoustic music and also appear to compliment Smalleyís views on listening. He states:
In pure contemplation the listener enjoys the sonorities of a musical composition, every material interest must be forgotten. Among these, however, is the tendency to allow the feelings to be stirred. An exclusively intellectual response to beauty is a logical rather than aesthetic relationship, while a predominately emotional response is even more questionable, in fact definitely pathological.23
Hanslick is highly critical of listeners who allow 'material interestí, in the form of either predominately intellectual or emotional responses, to affect the contemplation of music. These 'material interestsí should be set aside in order to facilitate proper aesthetic judgement, the criterion for which, in Hanslickís view, is the conviction that: '...every art must be known through its own technical definitions and understood by itself.í24 This is highly significant for the reception of electroacoustic tape music as it places an onus on the listener to become familiar with the materials and technique of the genre. He continues:
...'investigationí...is based on the principle that the aesthetic rules governing each art are inseparable from the individual characteristics of the material of that art and its technique.25
The 'competence and intentioní of the listener appear to be in a fine balance with the materials and techniques employed in composition. Greater 'investigationí of electroacoustic music by listeners may be the key to a higher aesthetic experience of the art for listeners; responsibility lies not only with the composer but also the listener. The emphasis placed by Hanslick and Smalley on the listener is significant because it illustrates that reception is equally contingent on the dual roles of composers and listeners. In many ways this is a far more satisfactory rationalisation than Adornoís 'Antinomy of Modern Musicí which does not credit the intelligence of listeners to both see through the hegemonic nature of commercialisation and take more than a passive interest in music.
This study has focused on the aesthetics of electroacoustic music with a special emphasis on the relationship between the composition and reception of works on fixed media. The first chapter considered the way electroacoustic composers define and describe the field in which they work. This examination took the form of a review of electroacoustic terminology. It was not the intention of this chapter to provide a systematic categorisation of terminology - this would have been beyond the scope of this study - but rather to offer an aesthetic context from which an understanding of the composition and reception of electroacoustic music could be further explored with greater clarity.
Annette Vande Gorneís classification of terms was used as a framework for the discussion. Terms were divided into three categories. Her first category, 'Historicalí, provided an opportunity to focus on the origins of the medium in Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik.. The radically different aesthetic of these schools was found to be highly influenced by the varying technologies employed. The tape recorder had a huge role in determining Musique concrËte aesthetics as Schaefferís aesthetic was based on the ability to manipulate microphone recordings of natural sound. Similarly, Elektronische Musik aesthetics were dependant on the ability to synthesise timbres from first principles. This facility made it possible to subject timbre to serial procedures.
The significance of Stockhausenís Gesang der J¸nglinge was also considered. The view that this piece, in which a boyís voice was integrated with synthesised timbres, represented a real convergence between Musique concrËte and Elektronische Musik was found to be misleading; Stockhausen was still using serialist methods to organise his musical materials - methods that were complete anathema to the more perceptually oriented proponents of Musique concrËte. However, Gesang der J¸nglinge did blur distinctions and encouraged the increasing use of the more generic term of 'electroacoustic musicí to describe the medium.
The chief benefit of the term is that no distinction is made between the origins of sounds - natural or synthetic. However, as Manning points out, the term is not in colloquial usage, unlike terms such as 'electronicí or 'computerí and this suggests to the public that the music is Èlitist and esoteric. Concern over the use of the 'electroacoustic musicí also emanates from composers within the medium. Chion and Dhomont, in particular, have criticised this terminology both for its vagueness and vacuity. In response to this a more specific term, 'acousmatic musicí, was adopted by FranÁois Bayle to distinguish works in the tape medium from real-time electronic performance and also to define a particular aesthetic for tape works; the term outlined the compositional concern for communication in a medium where a soundís source is unseen. 'Acousmatic musicí has been adopted by many composers in the tape medium to describe the aesthetic basis for their music.
Vande Gorneís second category, instrumental, outlines the tendency to describe the means by which electroacoustic music is created at the expense of describing the music itself. The disadvantages of both Otto Lueningís definition of 'electronic musicí and 'computer musicí are clear; in making a distinction between natural and synthesised materials and by describing electroacoustic music by means of it transmission, the perceptual qualities of sound, as experienced in listening are not addressed. Vande Gorneís final category is the least significant of the three. The terms most relevant to the current study were 'CinÈma pour líoreilleí and 'Radiophonicí. These represent specific genres within the tape medium which are descendants of Musique concrËte. 'CinÈma pour líoreilleí is a genre that places an emphasis on the use of environmental sounds which may have a metaphorical or abstract musical function depending on the discourse 'Radiophonicí works are strongly associated with Musique concrËte , using the same materials and techniques but are presented via radio.
Chapter 2 examined the composition of electroacoustic music on tape. The freedom composers experience today, an apparently ideal state, generates its own problems; composers are required to define their own language and materials as a lingua franca does not exist for them. Reference was made to the expanded range of musical material resulting from the facility to record and synthesise sound; the desire to extend the scope of musical material to noise and everyday environmental sounds was traced to the pioneering work of the Futurist Movement, Edgar VarËse and John Cage. These protagonists represented a current of thought, in the period c.1910 - 1945, which was characterised by a desire for new materials and means of expression assisted by developing technologies.
The final section of this chapter explored the construction of languages from the enlarged range of materials available. Emmerson provides an excellent starting point in this area by his division of all musical discourse into either mimetic or aural discourse. Mimesis was understood not only as the imitation of nature but also by the employment of extra-musical materials while aural discourse defines a more abstract and conventional musical discourse. These poles of discourse, which never exist in ideal states, create a continuum of possibilities for composers.
Emmerson, having defined modes of discourse, now sets about describing methods for creating musical syntax in the medium. He identifies two poles which he labels 'abstractí and 'abstractedí syntax. A workís syntax may be 'abstractedí from the materials in some way whether by 'Ècoute rÈduiteí as in Musique concrËte or by attention to the organisation of sounds in the environment as in the 'ecologicalí works of Luc Ferrari and Claude Schryer. Alternatively, a syntax can be imposed upon sounds in an abstract manner, for example the use of serial techniques in Elektronische Musik.
Emmerson combines these sets of oppositions - mimetic/aural and abstract/abstracted - to define works in the tape medium. This is reasonably successful until an attempt is made to designate works as a combination of aural and mimetic discourse created by an abstract and/or abstracted syntax. His acknowledgement that aural and mimetic discourse do not exist in pure forms means a degree of ambiguity already exists within these categories. This ambiguity exists in the perception of these works and needs to be addressed before creating further categories based on his original postulation. Emmersonís analysis, while illuminating from a compositional perspective, reveals little of the way this music is perceived by listeners. An aural discourse intended by the composer may be interpreted mimetically by the listener, equally, a mimetic discourse may be perceived 'aurallyí. This paradox highlights the communicative issues facing composers in the medium.
The final chapter considered the reception of electroacoustic music on fixed media. Differences in listening behaviour between composers and listeners were examined. It was suggested that compositional methods, resulting from new technologies, contribute to a disjunction between the art work and listener; the more specialised listening experienced through the act of composition appeared to be in conflict with the normal, habitual listening experienced by listeners. Adornoís 'collective perceptioní may be seen, in the case of electroacoustic tape music, to revolve around this conflict and, in particular, the primacy of mimesis in reception.
The dominance of mimetic interpretation by listeners is largely a result of the medium itself - a medium in which a soundís source is unseen. It is also, however, a question of the particular materials employed by composers. The increasing significance of timbre and dissolution of tonality in many branches of contemporary instrumental music may be linked to the overall expansion of extra-musical materials. Compositional attitudes to timbre have changed in the 20th century; Erickson suggests timbre has become a musical object itself instead of a mere carrier of melodic and harmonic functions. A considerable amount of contemporary music has been based on the control of timbre at the expense of pitch, rhythm and harmony. This presents a barrier too great for many listeners who find difficulty in coding music not based on simple pitch and rhythmic structures.
While composers may be challenged for the breakdown of Adornoís 'collective perceptioní it must also be argued that there is an onus on listeners to engage meaningfully with this music. Smalley insists electroacoustic tape music should be listened to in a specialised manner. He
argues that all sound possess a dual potential - the abstract and concrete aspects of sound - which can differ greatly among listeners. He believes that the 'competence and intentioní of the listener determines the degree of mimetic or abstract musical listening. However, his suggestion that the mimetic dimension of sound can be ignored by the trained listener is problematic given the physical nature of the medium; it is almost inevitable that some form of mimetic interpretation will be imposed on the material by listeners denied the visual stimulus of conventional musical performers.
Finally, it may be seen that the 'competence and intentioní of the listener is in a delicate balance with the materials and techniques of the composer. Hanslick challenges listeners by arguing that material interest must be forgotten for pure contemplation of the art work and that this is only possible by knowing an art through its own technical definitions and understanding it by itself. He believes greater 'investigationí of the materials and techniques of an art form by listeners is the key to aesthetic experience; responsibility lies not only with composers to communicate but also with listeners to engage. This represents a much more optimistic view than Adornoís 'Antinomy of Modern Musicí - which does not credit listeners for their ability to experience music as more than mere entertainment - and suggests a practical basis for the development of electroacoustic musical aesthetics.
Adorno, Theodor W. Quasi una Fantasia : Essays on Modern Music, Translated by Rodney Livingstone, London : Verso, 1994.
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Source:John McEvillyís MA dissertation as a double module for the degree of MA in Music Technology at the Queenís University of Belfast.
This work is copywrited by Queenís University and John McEvilly. All right reserved.
 Messiaen is quoted from a programme note of an early Musique ConcrËte concert at the Club díEssai, Paris. See Luening,O. The Development and Practice of Electronic Muisc, New Jersey : Prentice Hall Inc., 1975, p.12. Hereafter, Luening 1975.
 For the purposes of this dissertation 'electroacousticí is defined as 'Music that is produced, changed or reproduced by electronic means and that makes creative use of electronic equipmentí; see Appleton, Jon H. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music / edited by Don Michael Randel, London : Harvard University Press, 1986, pp.280-283.
 Emmerson, Simon. Relation of Language to Materials, London : Macmillan, 1986, p.18. Hereafter, Emmerson 1986.
 Vande Gorne, Annette. 'Les mots pour le dire: Lexique des musiques Èlectrocoustiquesí, Ars Sonora, Revue 3, March 1996. Hereafter, Vande Gorne 1996.
 Melodrama, in the traditional sense, refers to the '...musico-dramatic technique in which spoken text alternates with instrumental music or more rarely, is recited against a continuing musical background....some of the best-known examples of melodrama appear as parts of a larger work such as opera...famous examples include Beethovenís Fidelio (act 2 scene 1) and Weberís Der Freisch¸tz (act 2 secne 2); see The New Harvard Dictionary of Music / edited by Don Michael Randel, London : Harvard University Press, 1986. In electroacoustic music melodrama is an interaction between the live performance of a text, by one performer, and acousmatic sound e.g. Chion, Michel. La Tentation de Saint Antoine, INA-GRM, INA C 2002/3, (Vande Gorne, personal communication, 1998).
 See Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music, (Second Edition), Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1993, p.19. Hereafter, Manning 1993. The Paris music studio, originally named the Club d'Essai (1948) was established with the aid of Radio TÈlÈvision FranÁais RTF. Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry were the principal composers in the early years of the studio. The Cologne Studio, Studio f¸r Elektronische Musik, was founded in 1951 by Herbert Eimert and the Westdeutsher Rundfunk Radio company; principal composers at the studio were Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
 See Sparshott F.E., 'Aesthetics of Musicí, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume 1, London : Macmillan, 1980, p. 132.
 The Internationale Ferienkurse f¸r Neue Musik (International Summer Courses for New Music) were initiated in 1946 by Wolfgang Steinecke. These course encompassed composition and interpretation and have included many preimËres by leading composers, e.g. Stockhausen, Boulez, Berio.
 Manning 1993, p.356.
 Dhomont, Francis. 'Acousmatic Updateí, Journal of Electroacoustic Music, Volume 9, January 1996, p.7. Hereafter, Dhomont 1996.
 Emmerson, Simon. Analysis and the Composition of Electroacoustic Music, PhD Thesis, City University, 1981. Hereafter, Emmerson 1981.
 Schaeffer, Pierre. Que sais-je - La Musique ConcrËte, Paris : Presses Universitaires De France, 1967, p.29.
 The precise date at which this term was generally adopted is not known. It has been suggested by Jonty Harrison (personal communication, Canadian Electroacoustic Community Disscussion List - CEC Discuss - 1998) that the term '...was a compromise to cover music which could no longer be considered either Musique concrËte or Elektronische Musik in their original, historical senses.í The ambiguity in terminology was precipitated by Stockhausenís Gesang der J¸nglinge. Kevin Austin (personal communication - CEC Discuss - 1998) suggests the first reference to the term 'electroacoustic musicí was on a London/Decca 33 1/3 rpm LP of 'sounds' from the BBC radiophonic workshop in the early 1950s. The term 'electroacoustic' (as a technical reference) had already been in use since the beginning of recording media.
 Dhomont, Francis. 'Acousmatic, Quíest-ce ý Dire?í, Cycle de líerrance, CD, Empreintes Digitales, IMED 9607.
 Larousse, Pierre. Le Larousse pour tous: nouveau dictionnaire encyclopÈdique, Paris : Libraire Larousse, 1909.
 Dhomont, 1996, p.10.
 Wells, Thomas H., The Technique of Electronic Music, New York : Schirmer Books, 1981, p.140.
 Issues of language and materials, in composition and the reception of electroacoustic tape works, will be discussed in the following chapters.
 Kant, Imanuel. Imanuel Kantís Critique of Pure Reason, Translated by Norman Kemp Smith, London : Macmillan, 1929, pp. 24-27.
1 H–ller, York. 'Resonance: Composition Todayí in Musical Thought at IRCAM, Volume 1, London : G+B/harwood, 1984, p.67.
2 The cult of Beethoven dominated the 19th-century artistic landscape and historiography. E.T.A Hoffmann, Nietsche, Hesse and Mann were preoccupied with the notion of the artist as hero. Composers such as Schumann wrote that: '...the sole standard of judgement is genius (as opposed to talent): original, unforced, authentic expression, avoiding all that is contrived or conventional, and without any reference to preconceived formal properties.' - Sparshott, F.E., 'Aesthetics of Musicí in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume 16, London : Macmillan, 1980, p. 127. The status of the musical work in the nineteenth century is also another cornerstone of Romantic aesthetics. This was based on the philosophical concept of "Werktreue" (fidelity to the musical work), which itself is dependent on the concept of "Werk" - the objectified musical work-thing to which fidelity is owed. The emergence of concepts such as "Werk" and "Werktreue" are still central to contemporary music, see Goehr, Lydia. The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works - An Essay in the Philosophy of Music, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1992.
3 Adorno, Theodor W. The Philosophy of Modern Music, Translated by Anne G. Mitchell and Wesley V. Blomster, London : Sheed and Ward, 1987, p.5.
4 Adorno, Theodor W. Quasi una Fantasia - Essays on Modern Music, Translated by Rodney Livingstone, London : Verso, 1994, p.268. Hereafter, Adorno, 1994.
5 Reception and criticism will be considered in the next chapter.
6 Delalande, FranÁois. 'La musique Èlectroacoustique, coupure et continuitÈí, Ars Sonora, Revue 4, November, 1996.
7 Emmerson 1986, p.18.
8 Vande Gorne, Annette. 'Une histoire de la musique Èlectroacousticí, Ars Sonora, Revue 3, March 1996.
9 Emmerson 1986, p.19
10 Key Futurist publications included, Filippo Marinetti's Manifesto of Futurist poetry (1909) and Balilla Pratella's two publications Manifesto of Futurist Musicians (1910) and Technical manifestation of Futurist Musicians (1911).
11 Manning 1993, p.4.
12 Russolo invented the 'Intonarumori' and the 'Psofarmoni'. The former were mechanical noise instruments producing scratching, hissing and grunting sounds, while the latter were keyboard instruments that imitated animal and natural sounds.
13 Adorno 1994, p.268.
14 Ouellette, Fernand. Edgar VarËse, Translated by Derek Coltman, London : Calder & Boyars, 1966, p.15.
15 Manning 1993, p.6.
16 Manning 1993, p.15.
17 Harrison, Jonty. 'Sound, Space, Sculpture: some thoughts on the 'what', 'how', and (most importantly) 'why' of diffusion...and related topicsí, Journal of Electroacoustic Music, May, 1996, p.12. Hereafter, Harrison 1996.
18 Dhomont 1996, p.7.
19 Schaeffer 1967, p.29.
20 Harrison 1996, p.13.
21 Schaeffer 1967, p29.
22 Emmerson 1986.
24 Emmerson 1986,p.18.
25 Windsor, William Luke. A Perceptual Approach to the Description and Analysis of Acousmatic Music, Ph. D Thesis, Department of Music, City University, London, 1995, p.169. Hereafter, Windsor 1995.
26 Wishart, T. 'Sound Symbols and Landscapesí, The Language of Electroacoustic Music, London : Macmillan, 1986, p.36.
1 Adorno, Theodor W. Philosophy of Modern Music, London : Sheed &Ward, 1994, pp.18-19. Hereafter, Adorno 1994.
2 Adorno 1994, pp. 3-24.
3 Harrison 1996, p.19.
4 Nattiez, Jean-Jacques. Music and Discourse: Towards a Semiology of Music, Translated by Carolyn Abbate, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, 1990, p.93. Hereafter, Nattiez 1990.
5 Nattiez 1990, p.95.
6 Erickson, Robert. Sound Structure in Music, Berkley and Los Angeles : University of California, 1975, p.10. Hereafter, Erickson 1975.
8 Adorno 1994, p.9.
9 Kolers, Paul A. 'Some Psychological Aspects of Pattern Recognitioní, Recognising Patterns: Studies in Living and Automatic Systems, ed. Paul Kolers and Murray Eden, Canbridge : Massachusettes Institute of Technology, 1968, p.60.
10 Erickson 1975, p.12.
11 Erickson, p. 13.
12 Pressing, J. Novelty, 'Progress and Research Method in Computer Music Compositioní, Proceedings of the 1994 ICMC, Aarhus, Denmark, DIEM, p.9.
13 Smalley, Denis. 'Spectro-morphology and Structuring Processesí, The Language of Electroacoustic Music, London : Macmillan,1986 p.60. Hereafter, Smalley 1986.
14 Smalley, Denis. (unpublished) Spectromorphology: Explaining sound shapes. See MacDonald, Alistair. 'Performance Practice in the Presentation of Electroacoustic Musicí, Journal of Electroacoustic Music, Volume 9, May 1996, p.21.
15 Stuckenschmidt, H.H. 'The Third Stage: Some observations on the aesthetics of Electronic Musicí, Translated by Hans G. Helm, Die Reihe, Vol.1, Cologne : Universal Edition, 1958, p.11.
16 Adorno 1984, p.20.
17 Manning 1993, pp.21-22.
18 Smalley 1986, p.64.
19 Boulez, Pierre. 'Technology and the Composerí, The Language of Electroacoustic Music, London : Macmillan, 1986, p.13.
20 Smalleyís 'source-bondingí relates to the designation of the source or imagined source of acousmatic sound.
21 Manning 1993, p.15.
22 Boulez, Pierre. 'Entries for a Musical Encyclopediaí, RevelÈs díApprenti, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1991.
23 Hanslick, Eduard. On the Musically Beautiful: A contribution towards the revision of the Aesthetics of Music, Translated and edited by Geoffrey Payzant, Indianapolis : Hackett Publishing Company, 1986, pp. 4-5. Hereafter Hanslick 1986.
24 Hanslick 1986, pp.1-2.
25 Hanslick 1986, p.2.