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Spectromorphology

Assessment is a tricky aspect when applied to innovative practices. Evaluation of a new age cannot be accurately done with the tools of past generations. As is the case with drawing a cube on a piece of paper, you can get a general idea of the object being represented. However, the third dimension is only an illusion, because you cannot get beyond the the two-dimensions of the image. This yields a rough facsimile of the new style by ignoring that which was not conceived when focusing the scope of the analytical approach. As Laura Zattra explains,

“The very existence of an observer — the analyst — pre-empts the possibility of total objectivity. No single method or approach reveals the truth about music above all others.” Any analytical method must start with the declaration of the dimension to analyse: the microstructure or the macrostructure, the medium level, the timbre, etc.

There have been several of these approaches developed to analyze electroacoustic music. Like most tools, each excels in some areas, whether broad or highly focused, and fails in others. 

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Fair Poetry

Since its inception, the World's Fair has been a chance for the hosts to show off the finest advances from the people and corporations that call that country home. While in the past this "strut-your-stuff" mentality was carried out in the manner of a museum exhibition, there was something new brewing for the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium. "In a bold stroke, L.C. Kalff, Arts Director for Philips, broke with this boring tradition and proposed a building which, instead of showing off their products in photographs and glass cases, would itself be a demonstration of art created by the use of Philips products, a total techno-aesthetic union." Along with the imposing architectural structure of the Philips Pavillion, the presentation they offered to fairgoers was the union of several fields in which Philips excelled: lighting technology, electronics, electro-acoustics, and automatic controls. The display of abstract lighting and projected film was scored by the spatial composition Poème Électronique by Edgar Varèse. Varèse's futuristic score juxtaposed the retrospective 'story of all humankind' conceived by the architect, Le Corbusier.

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The Electronic Umbrella

The term electronic music covers a vast range of musical genres. Just as the term "EDM", or Electronic Dance Music, is a buzzword applied to Trance, House, Trap, Juke, and Dubstep to name a few, the blanket term "electronic music" has been used to encompass many different schools of thought. This even goes back to the days of electronic music's infancy when critics and reporters were looking for a way to separate the music of old from these new insurgencies. At this time I would like to highlight a few of these schools from the mid-twentieth century.

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Liberating Music With Noise

Two rather interesting articles on the incorporation of machines into the realm of music performance are The Art of Noise (Russolo 1913) and The Liberation of Sound (Varèse 1966). Both of the authors spoke of the evolution, or rather revolution of the music of yesterday to what they perceive to being the necessary future of the art. The two authors at times envision the future in similar precepts, yet at other times are rather contrary. While I tend to agree with the latter more than the former, both have their merits. It all comes down to the authors trying to answer the question, "what will we call music tomorrow?"

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