From sound to music: from recording to theory.

Dack, John ORCID logoORCID: (2010) From sound to music: from recording to theory. In: Recorded music: performance, culture and technology. Bayley, Amanda, ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 271-290. ISBN 9780521863094. [Book Section]


This chapter examines the theories of Pierre Schaeffer in relation to compositional practice in contemporary music. It thus extends and elaborates earlier research conducted by Dack in this field of twentieth century musicology. An historical approach was suggested: in electroacoustic music analogue recording (on shellac disc and magnetic tape) has been superseded by the digital equivalent of hard-disc recording. Each change in the prevailing technology has important repercussions for the manner in which musicians compose in the studio. It is significant that experiences gained in the electroacoustic studio have often been appropriated by composers of instrumental and vocal music. György Ligeti, for example, openly admits the fundamental importance of his brief period working in the Westdeutscher Rundfunk studio in Cologne (another of Dack’s research areas). Thus, theories originating in the electroacoustic medium where recording assumes the central role in the composition process can be applicable to music theory generally. Michel Chion and Guy Reibel (composers of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris) claimed that recording can ‘set the foundations of a new music’. Indeed, the French tradition of musique concrète has produced many new theoretical concepts for sound description and classification which would have been inconceivable without the new listening conditions of repeated aural analysis promoted by the medium of recording. This chapter investigates the historical development of recording and its significance for instrumental/vocal music. The principal focus is the new theoretical concepts derived from studio practice and the methodology includes analyses of writings and compositions by composers from the immediate post-war years such as Pierre Schaeffer but also contemporary composers such as François Bayle and Denis Smalley. The chapter also builds on Dack’s current translation projects. With C.North he has translated two seminal works of French electroacoustic music and has been commissioned to translate Schaeffer’s ‘Traité des objets musicaux’.

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: 997
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Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2009 15:50
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:12

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