Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 12

December 2002

Contents

Introduction

  • Pleasure Beats: Rhythm and the Aesthetics of Current Electronic Music
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    The division between high-art electronic music and pop electronic music is best defined in terms of rhythmic content. Pop electronic music uses repetitive beats, primarily in 4/4 time, but a new generation of composers is working within that structure to create what is essentially the new art music. This phenomenon is an outgrowth of such historical currents as minimalism and postmodernism, along with the continuing development of a global technoculture; it is part of a larger cultural shift in which art is becoming more connected with society rather than being created by and for specialists. This positive development is being accelerated by the rapid evolution of new technologies for producing and reproducing music today, as well as by new possibilities for distribution and dissemination of music electronically.

  • Machines of Joy: I Have Seen the Future and It Is Squiggly
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    The author discusses the relationship of human and machine in Northern European “Blip Hop.” The embrace of electronic and computer technology by the region's inhabitants finds its musical expression in peculiar stylistic attributes. The authors identifies a preference for obviously non-natural sounds, an avoidance of rhythms easily danced to and a disposition toward effects only achievable through computers (as well as the sound of the malfunctions and failures of such technologies) as indicative of Nothern European acceptance of this modern symbiosis.

  • Human Bodies, Computer Music
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    The author considers the absence of the artist's body in electronic music, a missing element that he finds crucial to the success of any work of art. In reviewing the historical development of electronic music from musique concrète to analog and then digital synthesizers, the author finds that the attainment of increased control and flexibility has coincided with the reduction of identifiable bodily involvement by the performer. He contrasts this trend with the highly physical intervention and manipulation, first practiced with atypical electronic instruments such as the theremin, subsequently introduced to the electric guitar by Jimi Hendrix and his followers, and then to vinyl by turntable artists. He concludes that the tension between body and machine in music, as in modern life itself, can only exist as an experience to examine and criticize and not as a problem to resolve.

  • Electric Body Manipulation as Performance Art: A Historical Perspective
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    The authors trace the history of electric performance art. They begin with the roots of this art form in 18th-century experiments with “animal electricity” and “artificial electricity,” which were often performed as public demonstrations in royal courts and anatomical theaters. Next, the authors sketch the development of increasingly powerful techniques for the generation of electric current and their applications in destructive body manipulation, culminating in the electric chair. Finally, they discuss the development of electric muscle-control technology, from its 18th-century beginnings through Duchenne de Boulogne's photo sessions to the current work of Stelarc and Arthur Elsenaar.

  • Some Sadomasochistic Aspects of Musical Pleasure
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    The author posits that a dynamic of sadomasochistic pleasure is at work in contempo-rary music. The rise both of compositions that equal a set of technical instructions and of perhaps impossible requirements upon performers can be seen to make the act of taking pleasure in their execution a form of masochism. The audiences of increasingly intellectualized musical styles could be said to enjoy a similar relationship to performance. And in the more physical “noise music,” the intended effect is often not auditory pleasure but suffering. The author recounts a number of sources in his discussion, from Freud to Nietzsche, Adorno, Schumann and Stockhausen.

  • I Know It's Only Noise but I Like It: Scattered Notes on the Pleasures of Experimental Improvised Music
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    The author, a Colombian improvisational musician residing in New York, muses about the pleasures associated with experimental improvised music. He draws from his own experience and from ideas borrowed from the viewpoints of others to present a deliberately disjointed picture of the subject.

  • A Graph Topological Representation of Melody Scores
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    This article is an informal presentation of a rather trivial observation: if a melody score is translated into a graph, the resultant drawing has aesthetic qualities that parallel in the visual domain the pleasure of experiencing the music in the auditory realm. Moreover, this beauty has several interesting elements of precision that the author explores using the simple though rigorous tools of graph theory.

  • That's Comish Music! Mutant Sounds
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    The author reflects on the uneasy relations among pleasure, humor and music by way of a German word meaning both “strange” and “funny.” Such music arises out of mutation from the sounds that their creators attempt to get “right.”

  • Playpens, Fireflies and Squeezables: New Musical Instruments for Bridging the Thoughtful and the Joyful
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    The author discusses research in music cognition and education indicating that novices and untrained students perceive and learn music in a fundamentally different manner than do expert musicians. Based on these studies, he suggests implementing high-level musical percepts and constructionist learning schemes in new expressive musical instruments that would provide thoughtful and joyful musical activities for novices and experts alike. The author describes several instruments—the Musical Playpen, Fireflies and Squeezables—that he has developed in an effort to provide novices with access to rich and meaningful musical experiences and recounts observations and interviews of subjects playing these instruments.

  • Eine Kleine Naughtmusik: How Nefarious Nonartists Cleverly Imitate Music
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    The author poses the question whether or not those who are not bona fide artists generate “genuine music.” He discusses his research on children, animals and resultant networks that cunningly assemble collections of sounds designed to fool listeners into believing them to be genuine music created by true com-posers.

  • Techno, Trance and the Modern Chamber Choir: Intellectual Game or Music to Groove to?
  • Sounding the Ritual of Sensual Rebellion: Pacific-European Resonances
  • The Red Bus Stops Here
  • Introduction: Pleasure from Gdansk till Dawn
  • OLGA + JOZEF: 7B2
  • Wolfram: Sentinel
  • Nicron: Highpass.2
  • EA: s. pool
  • Mołr Drammaz: niezano(zano)
  • Daniel Matej: SATIollagE
  • Borut Savski: Birdy Activity
  • The Abstract Monarchy Trio: Schrattenberg
  • Arszyn: Oho!—Rzekła Żydówka, ukazując drugie, duże, czarne oko. (część druga)
  • Vladimir Djambazov: The Secret Life of a Can
  • Jeanne Frémaux: Fret Accord
  • Arkona: Komputerliebe
  • Vapori del Cuore: Great Dance
  • Martin Burlas: monika vypovedá
  • Response
  • LMJ11 CD Contributors' Notes On-Line
  • 2002 AUTHOR INDEX

Artists' Statements

Notebooks

  • A Nonmusician's Life in Music
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    The author reflects on his experience as a devoted music fan who has made music and its dissemination the center of his work and life. He documents his progress from early fascination with American musics to a growing engagement with myriad African and Asian styles, and from amateur collecting to increasing professional involvement. As a result he is currently president of an international music label, but remains committed to sharing his particular enthusiasm for his favorite independent artists and musical forms.

  • The Psychoacoustics of Mono

Final Note

LMJ12 CD Companion

Contributors' Notes

Commentaries