Research Data Leeds Repository

Keynote 4: Rethinking the History of Sound-based Music

Landy, Leigh (2016) Keynote 4: Rethinking the History of Sound-based Music. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

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

Dataset description

The first entry in Hugh Davies’ “A History of Recorded Sound” (1979) was dated ‘unknown (mostly B.C.)’. Creating an alternative history for electronic music that is more radical or inclusive is going to be difficult. The notion of alternative history will be investigated in a number of ways in this talk and will focus upon the following two. A) Music has always involved some forms of technology throughout its history. One of the most radical developments of the use of technology in music history is what is being called electronic music at this event. However, there are major issues with this term today as it is used in various musical communities in different ways. Examples include the broad usage throughout most of the USA where electronic music is synonymous with electroacoustic music as used in other countries; electronic music means music in which sounds are created or generated electronically to many in the field; electronic music represents a variety of forms of popular music; and that is not all. Beyond the obvious terminology issues the lack of a clear definition for this body or music means that histories of that music will be based on the definition of the day. As awkward as this is, this point is less important than the following one. B) Accepting what most participants at this event will understand to be electronic music, it will be proposed that most of this body of work resides in a truly radical area, namely where the traditional musical note is not its basic unit; it is instead the sound that is not originally intended to be seen as something related to our do-re-mi system. Most histories of electronic music do not focus on the aesthetic results that separate note-based from sound-based works. In my 2007 book, instead of adopting one of the current terms in use, I opted for sound-based music (as opposed to the terms mentioned above as well as sonic art) as this term unambiguously is speaking of works in which the sound as opposed to the note is the basic unit. It also means that some works that do not need electricity (or other form of power) qualify as pertaining to this super-genre as it is the material, not power generation that holds the music together. This term was chosen above sonic art(s) as it clearly places its corpus within music, thus broadening the field from all notes to all sounds in a similar fashion as dance evolved from movement related to particular genres to any movement during the same period. The history of sound-based music proposed in this talk comfortably crosses genres and categories (including the art music/pop music divide and, in fact, can ignore it); it crosses art forms comfortably (e.g., sound artworks can often be experienced as fine art and music); it benefits from its own paradigm that coexists with the note-based paradigm known from early forms of music production developed in ‘unknown (mostly B.C.)’. Given the ubiquity of technology in today’s music, it will be proposed that rethinking the global history of sound-based music is indeed a valuable alternative to that of electronic 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 19:40



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