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The (lack of) documentation and canonization of interdisciplinary electroacoustic music

Bosma, Hannah (2016) The (lack of) documentation and canonization of interdisciplinary electroacoustic music. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

This item is part of the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music collection.

Dataset description

The availability and the choice of sources are an important aspect of the formation of music history. As I argued previously in relation to gender issues,1 analytical and historical accounts are mostly confined to music of which there is accessible documentation or audio(visual) recording available. This is a problem for music that does not fit into established formats and for which scores or standard audio(visual) recordings are not available or not sufficient as source material. This is not only a disadvantage with regard to contemporary accounts and analyses of such musical art; the long-term preservation of it is seriously problematic.2 This specifically affects music that has one or more of the following characteristics: interdisciplinary, exclusively performance-based, participatory, in the form of an installation, live electronic, improvised, with custom-made instruments or equipment. The use of various analogue and/or digital electronic technologies, instruments and media, the intermingling with various other disciplines (such as art, dance, theatre, etc.), the upheaval or stretching of the work concept and the departure from tradition causes new and serious problems to its preservation, such as early obsolescence of the experimental technology and a lack of standards. Moreover, a focus on the unique present, on decay or on obsolete technology are often aesthetic features of such music, adding a reflexive layer to the problematics of preservation. The issue of what is included and excluded in the established histories and canons, is closely related to the issue of preservation. A shift in focus with regard to what is or must be preserved, in what form or media, may come with a shift in the construction of music histories and canons, and vice versa. Do other kinds of histories need other kinds of sources? What different kinds of sources can we think of? What complicates the use of these? A focus on the musical work neglects the practice of music. Instead, I propose to take into account actor-network theory and to deal with musical performers, sound engineers, technologies, institutions and other actors as well. In interdisciplinary music, the notion of the composer as the Author is particularly problematic, as this music is often a collaboration between makers of various disciplines, shifting conventional musical roles. As a pilot study for a larger research project on the documentation of interdisciplinary electroacoustic music in relation to the concept of the musical work in the electronic/digital age, I will explore: 1) what kind of source materials are used in some of the main historical overviews of electronic music and how the choice and availability of sources influences these histories; 2) some of the possibilities and problems of the documentation and preservation of interdisciplinary electroacoustic music (works or practices). I will trace these issues by way of some specific examples of Dutch interdisciplinary music: the work of Dick Raaijmakers, Huba de Graaff and the studio for electro-instrumental music STEIM. Both Raaijmakers and STEIM are among the few Dutch exponents of electroacoustic music that are mentioned in the main histories of electronic music. But why are only specific aspects of their work discussed and significant parts ignored? What does this tell us about the selection and canonization process? The works and practices of Dick Raaijmakers, Huba de Graaff and STEIM seem to resist documentation, ontologically and practically; but on the other hand, there is a desire for its documentation, dissemination and canonization. How is this done, by whom, what are the problems, and what may be possible solutions? What interests influence these processes?

Subjects: W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music
W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music > W310 - Musicianship/performance studies > W316 - Electronic/electro-acoustic music performance
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures > School of Music
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Date deposited: 27 Jul 2017 19:06



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