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Electro-acoustic feedback and the birth of sound installations

Saladin, Matthew (2016) Electro-acoustic feedback and the birth of sound installations. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

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

Dataset description

Reflecting upon Max Neuhaus and Alvin Lucier’s first electronic works on electro-acoustic feedback, I will consider how their researches on live electronic music, meant to be performed on stage, announce a whole other form of creation, which is paradoxically emancipated from the concert hall and essential to the emergence of sound art: sound installations. If both musicians first appropriated the electronic medium for its possibilities in sound transformation (Neuhaus’s interpretations of the avant-garde’s percussion repertoire; Lucier’s collaboration with the Sonic Arts Union), it appears that these experimentations, and more precisely those using feedback, quickly extended into other areas than research on tones and the live dimension of electronic performances. Indeed, electro-acoustic feedback, as a phenomenon of retroaction, goes beyond the mere relationship to the instrument: by manifesting itself in the looping of the electro-acoustic chain (microphone-amplification-speakers), it straightaway inscribes the electronic device in a spatial dimension that is linked to the propagation of sound. Highly unstable and unpredictable, feedback’s variations indeed result from the interaction of numerous parameters: acoustics, volume, the architecture of a space, as well as the technology employed and its positioning in space, or the mass and movements of bodies within it. Any work implying this type of feedback can thus only be in situ: it depends upon how sounds wander in space. By analyzing Neuhaus and Lucier’s first experimentations with feedback, the specificities of their apparatuses and the experiences they aim at and foster, this presentation wishes to question the role they played in the emergence of both musicians’ concern with space, which is at the core of any understanding of their later works. And beyond these singular paths, we will reread the history of live electronic music in the light of its bifurcations and lines of flight, in order to explicate the birth of a certain art of sound installation, in which the liveness of live electronic music, far from being deserted, seems to lead into other forms of creation and specific aesthetic stakes. If live electronic music can be considered as one of the conditions of possibility for the emergence of sound installations, we will also have to consider, on a broader scale, the relations that the history of sound art practices have with electronics and their ambiguous emancipation from experimental music.

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 19:12



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