Clarke, Michael, Dufeu, Frédéric and Manning, Peter (2014) The Significance of Technical Research in the Study of Electroacoustic Music: A Perspective from the TaCEM Project. In: Royal Musical Association 50th Annual Conference, 4th - 6th September 2014, Leeds, UK. (Unpublished)

Technology plays a crucial role in much electroacoustic music, one that goes far beyond simply the mechanical production of sound. Frequently the nature of the technology used impacts significantly on the way in which the music is conceived and structured. TaCEM (Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music) is a 30 month AHRC funded project investigating the relationship between technological innovation and creative practice. Two contrasting Case Studies from the project will be used to illustrate the significance of technology for the compositional process. Barry Truax’s Riverrun (1986/2004) was composed using the composer’s own PODX system, in which evolving streams of sound are shaped in real-time as they are generated. Riverrun resulted from the successive superposition of such streams creating rich mutli-layered textures transforming over time. By contrast Trevor Wishart’s Sound Loom software, used in the composition of Imago (2002), works out of real-time. Material for the composition was often generated through long sequences of successive processing stages, each step being fine-tuned in turn. The composition is structured through the precise juxtaposition and superposition of the resulting soundfiles. Two contrasting technologies result in two very different works. Different technologies afford different creative potential and in many cases compositions could not have been conceived without specific technical means. This paper will illustrate how full understanding of such works can only be gained through thorough analysis, including recreation, of the processes by which they were formed.

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