Instrument, what do you want of us?

Dack, John (2009) Instrument, what do you want of us? In: Pierre Schaeffer. Gayou, Evelyne, ed. Portraits polychromes, (14). Institut national de l'audiovisuel., Paris, pp. 57-65. ISBN 9782869382107

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Abstract

This chapter was commissioned by the Groupe de Recherches Musicales for inclusion in their volume on Pierre Schaeffer. In this chapter Dack continues his research into Schaeffer’s music theories and their relevance to an understanding of the nature of musical thought via the abstract/concrete dualism – a dualism which is embodied by the musical instrument. Building on previous research, Schaeffer’s explicitly ‘instrumental’ attitudes are investigated. Thus, the relationship between the concepts of ‘register’, ‘play’ and ‘timbre’ are examined in the context of their re-appropriation by Schaeffer. Thus, these notions assist a fuller appreciation of the role instruments play in shaping musical units at all levels of structure. In addition, Dack suggests that Schaeffer’s concept of a ‘plastic’ music revels the limits of his ‘instrumental’ sounds and thus emphasizes the need for a theory which encompasses sounds described as ‘excentric’ by Schaeffer (see also: ‘Excentric sounds/balanced sounds and the ‘sublime’ EMS07 Online Proceedings www.ems-network.org). It is proposed that the full implications of these sounds were not realized by Schaeffer. They challenge physical causality due to their excessive duration and complex spectral behaviour and, as a result, are explicitly non-instrumental. This chapter extends Dack’s current research into the nature of the ‘instrument’ as a concept in contemporary music-making by composers such as Ligeti, Berio and Stockhausen. These investigations led to an invitation to present a paper at the ‘Luciano Berio: Nuove Prospettive’ Conference in Siena, 2008 (publication forthcoming). In addition, Paper presentations at the ‘Sixth Biennial Conference on Music since 1900’, Keele University, 2009 and ‘The Musical Body’, London University, 2009 explored the shift in Schaeffer’s thinking from the ‘actual’ to the ‘virtual’.

Item Type:Book Section
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Previously published in French in Portraits polychromes, 13: Pierre Schaeffer. 2008.

Research Areas:School of Science and Technology > Computer Science
School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > Electronic and Digital Arts cluster
ID Code:1002
Deposited On:09 Feb 2009 16:22
Last Modified:10 Oct 2014 11:38

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