Notes for Articles indéfinis
Just over twenty years ago, after a 45-minute introduction to the
studio, I set out on a journey in the electroacoustic domain. As I
was about to progress to a composition doctorate, I felt that I should
know something about how electroacoustic music fitted into the broader
picture of composition. I soon realised that it was more a question
of how instrumental composition fitted into the broader picture of
working with sound!
The field of possibility in the electroacoustic medium being more
or less infinite, the old certainties of the act of composition
can no longer be sustained. Composing can no longer be restricted
to formulating abstract relationships between material drawn from
a limited array of 'musical' sounds via an intermediate system of
graphic (visual) symbols - a formulation which is frequently
more firmly rooted in notational (notatable) relationships
than in the perceivable relationships of sound. No - in
the studio one works with sound itself and tests the results on
that most fickle and yet most potent discriminatory organ of perception
- the ear. Composition becomes "concrete" - a collaboration between
composer and the organic sound matter which (like a kind of sonic
DNA) carries clues to its behaviour in various musical contexts,
and to which the composer must be sensitive or risk the musical
consequences of a mismatch of local and global structures. This
collaborative venture involves a shift of focus away from instrumental
generalisations based on an acquired cultural memory of sonic exteriors.
Listening inside sounds reveals interior structures which
can give rise to new, external(ised) musical forms - no longer abstract,
but abstracted from the material itself. Where this initial
material is drawn from recognisable sounds, the sounds of our everyday
experience, then the purely musical, spectromorphological relationships
between sounds are complemented by a wider frame of reference: alongside
réduite we also experience "expanded listening".
did I realise back in 1974 that my encounter with the electroacoustic
medium would change my attitude to composition - and, indeed, to
music itself - so fundamentally. Over this period I have travelled
from formulaic throwbacks to structures built from spectromorphological
connections and free associations of sound images. The pieces gathered
together on this CD chart some of this journey.
Articles indéfinis is
available on the empreintes DIGITALes label.