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Production and reproduction


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some guy
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« on: July 09, 2009, 10:19:02 pm »

Interesting that up until 1947, instruments--including electronic ones--were things made to produce music, and that after 1947, machines designed to reproduce were used more and more to produce music, tape recorders, turntables, CD players....

And given the move from definite pitches as the central quality of music, in both tonal and serial systems, to including more and more noises (indefinite pitch), it's also interesting that the machines designed to reproduce were more successful at producing noise than the machines that mimicked the pitch producing quality of most musical instruments.

Anyway, it's just nice to know that the technology that allowed, even encouraged, listeners to remain in the past--a common phenomenon enough, but never before so easy as after recording devices were perfected, turning listeners into consumers--is the same technology that has produced electroacoustic music and all the wonderful noises that can be made with turntables and CD players (both with and without the "software").
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Reiner Torheit
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2009, 05:06:21 am »


Interestingly (well, interestingly to me, as a player), the recorder has been known by that name since the C15th.  At that time "recourd" was a verb which had the meaning of "playing over" a piece of music, or practicing it.
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Tony Watson
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2009, 09:24:11 am »

It seems that about 100 years ago the recorder had been all but forgotten. An edition I have of Shakespeare's complete works, which first appeared in 1905, feels it necessary to explain that a recorder is "a kind of flute". (The instrument appears in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet.)
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Reiner Torheit
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2009, 11:19:03 am »

Probably longer than 100 years, in fact.  Handel wrote extensively for the recorder (confusingly naming it "flute").  When Handel wanted the "conventional" flute, he was always careful to name it "traverso".  (Handel expected his oboists to double on the recorder, whereas flautists were not expected to double. Since he always had oboists on hand, the recorder was similarly omnipresent, whereas flutes required extra players, and thus extra salaries).

But the next generation of composers dropped the recorder in favour of the "traverso", and it didn't really recover until the Dolmetsch era.  I think the Industrial Revolution was partly responsible... the design of the flute was radically souped-up to keep its place alongside orchestral instruments.  So the recorder really fell out of use from the 1760s onwards.  However, a fipple-flute instrument did appear in the C19th - the flageolet. Overtly an instrument for home music-making, there was never really a solo repertoire for it - yet they were mass-produced in enormous numbers.  You frequently find them in junk-shops, usually badly broken. They seem to have been a mainly English/French habit - they're not really found elsewhere.  A rather rarer thing was the Double Flageolet, which has two pipes joined to the same mouthpiece - adroit cross-fingering over the double set of fingerholes enabled players to get simple polyphony (mostly parallel thirds, in keeping with the instrument's pseudo-pastoral nature) out of it.


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guest2
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2009, 11:22:34 am »

. . . given the move from definite pitches as the central quality of music, in both tonal and serial systems, to including more and more noises (indefinite pitch), it's also interesting that the machines designed to reproduce were more successful at producing noise than the machines that mimicked the pitch producing quality of most musical instruments. . . .

I would demur at this part - about the noises - because I think it is in general important to retain the operations of harmony in music.

But overall, there have as I see it been over the course of the past few decades a number of significant advances or steps in the capabilities of electronic music.

1) tape recorders with continuously variable speed. In controllable form these must have come in around 1970. I remember in 1965 I bought a tone generator from Edgeware Road and a surplus recorder from the BBC which had a speed variation knob, but it was impossible to control with any accuracy.

2) the next step would have been the ability to change the speed of a piece of music without changing its pitch - and also the ability to change the pitch of a piece of music without changing its speed. Correct me if I am wrong about these, but I suspect they became available around 1980.

3) then around 1983 began the widespread use of sequencers, connected to synthesizers, making everything that had gone before seem impossibly difficult in comparison. More and more detailed individual characteristics could be assigned to every note of a work.

4) finally in 1995 or so came the advent of the sampler, whereby the sounds of "real instruments" could be recorded and played back by the sequencer. I have yet to hear a sampled stringed instrument that sounds totally lifelike though, and in any case as I see it many synthesized sounds are more suitable for many pieces of music - even Bach! - than the sounds of actual or manual instruments.

There are of course now many more such computerized musical marvels, but these were the principal stages were they not?

And it is my view that the heyday of acousmatic music is yet to come!

(The word "acousmatic" refers to the akusmatikoi, pupils of Pythagoras who, so that they might better concentrate on his teachings, were required to sit in absolute silence while they listened to their master speak, hidden from view behind a screen. In a radio talk in 1955 the French writer Jérôme Peignot used the expression "bruit acousmatique" to describe the separation of a sound from its origins as encountered in musique concrète. Schaeffer in his Traité des objets musicaux (1966) compared the role of the tape recorder to the screen of Pythagoras, emphasizing the concentrated listening facilitated when working in the studio with sound recorded on tape: repeated listening encouraged a better appreciation of the detailed abstract attributes of sounds. In 1974 the composer François Bayle, head of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, suggested adopting the term as more suitable than "electro-acoustic music" for representing the special conditions of listening to music on tape. Acousmatic music has focussed attention on how we listen to sounds and to music, and what we seek through listening. Consequently, music analysis and music psychology have expanded their fields of inquiry to encompass the wider sound world of electro-acoustic music.)
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some guy
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2009, 08:19:08 pm »

I think it is in general important to retain the operations of harmony in music.
This pushes my harmony/melody/rhythm button: harmony--things sounding at the same time/melody--sounds going "higher" and "lower"/rhythm--things happening in time.

While I agree (without at all being sure that it's any more than a personal desire to have more of it) that acousmatic's heyday is yet to come, I also recognize that there are also a lot of fine things being done in soundscape and in eai. And I more than suspect that it's in more open practices that the future of elecroacoustic will be. But that's because what I think is that the heyday of experimental (in the old sense) music is yet to come!!

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IanP
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2009, 09:29:56 am »

harmony--things sounding at the same time
Would you use that term to include non-pitched sounds occurring at the same time as well (or a combination of both)? Combinations of timbres (whether in an acoustic setting, e.g. through orchestration, or in electroacoustic works) seem very fundamental to music, especially in recent times; I wonder if there might be a better 'fundamental' term than harmony (which as I understand it privileges pitched sounds), which can encompass harmony itself and other types of sonic combination?
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increpatio
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2009, 03:13:09 pm »

harmony--things sounding at the same time
Would you use that term to include non-pitched sounds occurring at the same time as well (or a combination of both)? Combinations of timbres (whether in an acoustic setting, e.g. through orchestration, or in electroacoustic works) seem very fundamental to music, especially in recent times; I wonder if there might be a better 'fundamental' term than harmony (which as I understand it privileges pitched sounds), which can encompass harmony itself and other types of sonic combination?
Could one not speak of juxtaposition? It doesn't maybe have all the right connotations though, emphasizing the elements as much as their relation (or the quality of the relationship between various of their qualities).  'Combination' seems a little too vague.  Tenney's 'clang' doesn't quite fit the bill here, as it can apply to contiguously as well as simultaneously combined elements.
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increpatio
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2009, 03:25:54 pm »

harmony--things sounding at the same time
Would you use that term to include non-pitched sounds occurring at the same time as well (or a combination of both)? Combinations of timbres (whether in an acoustic setting, e.g. through orchestration, or in electroacoustic works) seem very fundamental to music, especially in recent times; I wonder if there might be a better 'fundamental' term than harmony (which as I understand it privileges pitched sounds), which can encompass harmony itself and other types of sonic combination?
Could one not speak of juxtaposition? It doesn't maybe have all the right connotations though, emphasizing the elements as much as their relation (or the quality of the relationship between various of their qualities).  'Combination' seems a little too vague.  Tenney's 'clang' doesn't quite fit the bill here, as it can apply to contiguously as well as simultaneously combined elements.

Quote
Interesting that up until 1947, instruments--including electronic ones--were things made to produce music, and that after 1947, machines designed to reproduce were used more and more to produce music, tape recorders, turntables, CD players....
Hmm.  I find something disagreeable about this, but there's no point I can disagree about  Roll Eyes
(any reason for the particular choice of 1947?)

One could construct a similar narrative around the music score publishing industry, except maybe that the direct feedback into the content of the creation of new music isn't as obvious? (though it has had observable feedback into the graphic).
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IanP
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2009, 04:02:52 pm »

To me the word juxtaposition suggests things presented alongside one another rather than simultaneously, so in music might imply a series of different timbres in a temporal sequence.
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some guy
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2009, 08:15:47 am »

Ian, Yes, I would use harmony to mean any sounds, pitched or unpitched, sounding simultaneously. So it has no necessary functional meaning the way I would use it. Harmony as it's usually used posits relationships that have structural significance, no? I don't see that having much relevance to contemporary practice.

increpatio, 1947 because by then the tape recorder had been perfected and Schaeffer's first "tape" pieces were done with it. That date ignores things like the 1930 turntable concert put on in Berlin by Hindemith and Krenek(?) and Cage's subsequent uses of turntables in pieces like Credo in US and of radios in Imaginary Landscape no. 1. So 1947 is probably too late. (I'm more and more unsatisfied by that date the more I think about it.)
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