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Electroacoustic music in Finland in the 1960s and 1970s: a case study of Erkki Kurenniemi’s music and instrument design

Ojanen, Mikko (2016) Electroacoustic music in Finland in the 1960s and 1970s: a case study of Erkki Kurenniemi’s music and instrument design. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

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

Dataset description

In this presentation, I will introduce my PhD project which is focused on the history and analysis of Finnish electroacoustic music and electronic instrument design in the 1960s and 1970s. At the center of the focus is an instrument designer and composer Erkki Kurenniemi (b. 1941). Kurenniemi gained strong technical know-how, first, as an amateur radio operator already during the 1950s and later as a student and an assistant at the Department of Nuclear Physics in the University of Helsinki. During the academic year 1961–62, Kurenniemi was invited to build an electronic music studio for the Department of Musicology at the University of Helsinki. Between 1964 and 1975, he built ten innovative instruments mainly employing digital logic in their sound synthesis, sequencer and memory applications. Amid his studio and instrument design, Kurenniemi pursued an artistic career and produced approximately 30 pieces of electroacoustic music including music and sound effects for films, theater, radio plays and exhibitions. In 1970, together with Jouko Kottila and Peter Frisk, Kurenniemi founded a company Digelius Electronics Finland with the main target in designing and marketing of his instruments. Failing to achieve a foothold in the market with any of its products, Digelius went to bankruptcy in 1976. At the time when necessary technology was practically non-existent and the studios of the genre were rare and expensive to design, Kurenniemi’s work enabled a good part of Finnish electronic music production. Kurenniemi collaborated with several Finnish and Swedish composers and artists, and his visionary ideas and technical know-how had its influence on the works of his contemporaries – and vice versa. Thus, his work serves here as a lens through which I am observing also the broader cultural and historical circumstances of electronic music – even beyond the Finnish scene. Therefore, another central target of this study is to shed light on the intangible social networks of experimental artists and electronic music composers in the Nordic countries. Beyond the temporal and geographical frames, the works by Kurenniemi and his Nordic collaborators also provide a more general point of view to the interaction between music and technology. The broad focus of my PhD project can be introduced with three main threads; music history (the point of view to the historical and cultural context in the Nordic countries in the 60s and the 70s), music technology (the point of view to the instrument design and usage) and electroacoustic music (the point of view to the aesthetics and musical analysis). The study belongs to the domain of music technology research and its scientific stance is interdisciplinary. On the one hand, for describing the social networks and technological development I employ the concepts from the framework of the social construction of technology as well as from the actor network and innovation theories. On the other, for analysing and describing the cultural and historical context of electronic and experimental music I employ music analysis and the concepts of the modern historiographical paradigm and aesthetic theory.

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 19:38



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