The electroacoustic music of Henri Pousseur and the open form

Dack, John ORCID logoORCID: (2009) The electroacoustic music of Henri Pousseur and the open form. In: The modernist legacy: essays on new music. Heile, Bjorn, ed. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 177-188. ISBN 9780754662600. [Book Section]


This chapter was commissioned by the editor B.Heile. Dack’s chapter examined the specific relationship between the electroacoustic medium and ‘open’ forms in Pousseur’s works taking as exemplary case studies compositions such as ‘Scambi’ (1957) and ‘Huit Études Paraboliques’ (1972). It is proposed that the tape work ‘Scambi’ transcends its apparently modest origins. Although described personally to Dack by Pousseur as ‘une petite chose’ it is a model for many contemporary composers preoccupied with ‘open’ forms. The sections of ‘Scambi’ can be reconfigured in a variety of ways. Despite the difficulties of such an undertaking in the analogue studio, various versions were composed by Pousseur, Luciano Berio and Marc Wilkinson. This chapter builds on research undertaken as part of an AHRC-funded research project investigating the realization processes of ‘Scambi’ and the inherent difficulties of using ‘open’ forms in the analogue electronic medium ( The research methodology for the chapter included interviews with Henri Pousseur as well as organizing the creation of new versions of ‘Scambi’ by composers using digital rather than analogue techniques. By evaluating these research findings Dack’s chapter clarifies the problems of the analogue medium and the (as yet unrealized) potential of the digital medium for a thorough exploration of ‘open’ forms. It is noteworthy that Pousseur’s ‘Huit Études Paraboliques’, whilst still a product of the analogue studio, approached the notion of ‘openness’ in a different manner and can even be considered as a forerunner of contemporary developments such as the ‘re-mix’ and ‘live’ electronic performance. Dack’s research into Pousseur’s musical thinking is ongoing and in 2009 resulted in an invitation to participate in a successful EU EACEA bid in conjunction with the Universities of Padua and Aalborg

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Originally presented as a conference paper at the ‘Fourth Biennial Conference on Twentieth-century Music’, University of Sussex, August, 2005.
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Computer Science
A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > Electronic and Digital Arts cluster
Item ID: 1019
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Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2009 12:55
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:12

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