"Open" forms and the computer.

Dack, John ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0521-4852 (2004) "Open" forms and the computer. In: Musiques, arts, technologie. Pour une Approche Critique. Collection: 'Musique-philosophie'. Barbanti, Roberto, ed. Harmattan, Paris, pp. 401-412. ISBN 2-7475-6691-9. [Book Section]


Based on a paper presented at a peer-reviewed conference organized jointly by the universities of Montpellier and Barcelona, this chapter investigates the potential of the digital computer for the realization of 'open form' musical compositions.

An 'open form' work allows the re-configuration of its constituent sections at local and/or global structural levels. While these forms were explored extensively in the immediate post-war years, Dack argues that the recent use of the digital computer for electroacoustic composition appears to have encouraged 'closed forms'. He suggests that this has occurred due to the deterministic nature of work practices resulting from the use of analogue technology from which most electroacoustic music has developed. However, many contemporary electroacoustic composers and sound artists explore 'algorithmic' and other indeterminate procedures in their work. Thus, the issue of historical 'open' forms remains unresolved and needs to be re-examined.

Dack's methodology was based on an investigation into a precedent in the use of 'open' forms by a composer working in the analogue medium: the tape composition 'Scambi' (1957) by Henri Pousseur. By a close interpretation of his writings and an analysis of the realization procedures of 'Scambi' Dack demonstrated that Pousseur had in fact predicted the use of techniques intrinsic to the digital medium. Consequently, a hitherto unacknowledged model from the 1950s existed which could be applied to the realization of works by contemporary artists.

The area of 'open forms' continues to inform much of Dack's present research. His AHRC-funded 'Scambi Project' enabled him to invite Pousseur to speak at a seminar on his 'open' works. In addition, with the collaboration of Boyd-Davis (RA2), the Lansdown Centre hosts a web site (http://www.scambi.mdx.ac.uk/) for the dissemination of information relating to 'open' forms. This is currently the major source in English for information on Henri Pousseur's music.

Item Type: Book Section
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: 464
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2008 12:00
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:11
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/464

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