Clarke, Michael, Dufeu, Frédéric and Manning, Peter (2013) Tracking Creativity and Investigating Technology in Electroacoustic Music: Methods and perspectives of the TaCEM project. In: Tracking the Creative Process in Music (TCPM), 10th - 12th October 2013, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

For more than sixty years, the actors of electroacoustic music have been embracing information technology under a wide range of creative approaches and aesthetic outputs. Tracking the creative process in this field may involve an in-depth study of technologies, their uses, and their interactions with the compositional activity. How far has technology had an important impact on the musical creativity of electroacoustic composers? Based at the University of Huddersfield and Durham University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the TaCEM research project (Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music) aims at exploring this question on the basis of a series of case studies. As part of this project, this paper will analyse the issues involved in tracking creativity in works where technology plays a major role in the formation of the music. It will discuss the approaches and methods being proposed so as to fully incorporate the technical aspects into a broader musicological study and the innovative use of software to facilitate this.
In this matter, the TaCEM project calls for both historical and analytical disciplines. In regards to the history of electroacoustic music, studying the poietic strategies involved in established works from the repertoire faces preservation issues. As the technologies used for composing, conserving, and playing the works may increasingly become difficult to access if not entirely obsolete, an important attention must be paid to the existence and readability of various types of sources documenting the creative acts. On the analytical side, electroacoustic music raises the question of representing musical elements, processes, and structures for which traditional notation often proves irrelevant. Besides, the diversity of creative methods and results from one composer or one individual work to another tends to invalidate attempts for global and unified analytical approaches, although some transversal typologies for production, materials, and perception can be efficiently used for particular sets of cases.
As part of the criteria for selecting the works to be studied within the TaCEM project, the theories behind and the models for the considered creative processes have been evaluated so as to cover a representative range of several approaches. Amongst aesthetics including computer music, the acousmatic tradition and live electronics, different techniques and their associated methods must be investigated: analogue electronics, digital synthesis with frequency modulation, spectral analysis and resynthesis, real-time processing of instrumental sound sources, and score following for synchronizing an electroacoustic part to the gestures of one or several performers. These techniques may have existed prior to the actual writing of the works; they may as well have been directly created and developed by the composers and their collaborators for musical purposes. In this latter case, technological developments and their scientific contributions can be considered as being fully integrated to the creative processes themselves, leading to a questioning of transdisciplinary approaches both for composition and musicology.
By initiating an in-depth study of the relationships between technology and creative processes for eight established works from the electroacoustic repertoire, the main goals of the TaCEM project are an improved knowledge of these works and of the compositional methods typically used in this artistic field, as well as the development of relevant analytical concepts and tools for the understanding of a kind of music which finds its primary source in sound rather than on paper. In this matter, the project aims at pursuing the concept of Interactive Aural Analysis initiated by the first author of this proposal and principle investigator of the project. This approach, which finds its roots in stating the limits of textual and diagrammatical resources for the musicology of sound-based music, uses software to emphasize the aural and allow interactive engagement with music and the techniques used to produce it.
Within the TaCEM project, a large software development will allow for an in-depth interactive engagement with the considered compositional processes. Using a reconstruction of the most significant techniques used in the original works and a set of tools dedicated to aural analysis, the user will be able to investigate the case studies by exploring its associated tools, thus actually experimenting with the creative process. A book will detail the background and aims of the overall project and present, for each of the eight works, underlying issues and research findings including its historical context, the methodologies raised, and a study of the creative processes involved and resulting aesthetics. Although such an approach to the analysis of electroacoustic music is primarily aimed at musicologists, it leads to the consideration of its dissemination to a wider audience of non-specialists of the field or scholars. Offering interactive access to compositional tools will, it is hoped, significantly contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the creative processes involved in a repertoire for which the creative dimension of technology can be extended from the composer’s studio to the listener’s workspace.

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