ï~~'Local/field': towards a typology of live electroacoustic music Simon Emmerson, Music Department, City University, London EClV OHB, UK e-mail: s.emmerson@city.ac.uk Abstract Live and 'mixed' electroacoustic music has often been designated a 'problem' in tape diffusion systems. The stationary 'live' sound is strangely placed within the dynamic movements of any prerecorded elements - only partly solved with 'real-time' processing. A dual but complementary system is suggested: no longer central control of the total soundscape but a delicate balance of local control by the instrumentalist (possessing clear expressive potential), with control of an environment - afield. The author relates these relatively abstract (even aesthetic) notions with a clear research agenda including composer and performer training programmes. [In the presented paper these are related to recently composed works which suggest these new possibilities.] 1 Dislocation and causality (real and surmised) In Emmerson (1994) 1 argued that we had lost an important relationship in replacing the word 'live' with 'real-time'. This was no Freudian slip, however, as many actions (and interactions) conducted between people and machines on the concert platform in no way give cues (or even clues) as to whether there is any essentially 'live' (human-produced) activity. We merely have to imagine the work recorded while abandoning our insiders knowledge as to how it may have been produced. That paper went on to argue that a new generation of computer interaction software should be for strictly live performance, reassembling some of the 'cause/effect' chains which have been broken by recording and computer technology. This paper seeks a first step; to examine what types of transformation may help the composer in this task It is not my aim to attempt to roll back history and to undo the three great 'acousmatic dislocations' established in the half century to 1910. These are (following Emmerson 1994): (1): Time (recording), (2): Space (telecommunications (telephone, radio), recording) and (3): Mechanical causality (electronic synthesis, telecommunications, recording). the aim is to be clear that in abandoning any reference to these 'links of causality' the composer of electroacoustic music - especially that involving live resources - creates a confusion (even a contradiction) and loses an essential tool for perspective and engagement between the forces at work. This paper seeks to set up a simple model for the composer, performer and teacher in this field. One which allows a clear set of aims and objectives to be established within a framework based on perception as the basis for judgement and a humanist belief in the central participation of the live individual. 2 The 'local/field' distinction To this end I wish to make a primary distinction in terminology; one which has its roots in a simple model of the situation of the human performer (as sound source) in an environment. Local controls and functions seek to extend (but not to break) the perceived relation of human performer action to sound production. Whilefield functions place the results of this activity within a context, a landscape or an environment. It is very important to emphasise that the field as defined above can contain other agencies i.e. it is not merely a 'reverberant field' in the crude sense but a stage on which the entire panoply of pre-composed and real-time electroacoustic music may be found. The essence of my argument is to separate out the truly live element as the 'local' in order to reform more coherently the relationship with this stage area (which may surround the ICMC Proceedings 1994 31 Aesthetics, Philosophy, Criticism 0
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