Blogs

Memories of Milton

A screen shot from Eric Chasalow's video interview with Milton Babbitt for the Video Archive of the Electroacoustic Music

We have all, at one time or another, had to come to terms with Milton Babbitt’s music, with his ideas about music, and with the place he helped define for composers. Anyone who can make us question the way forward so profoundly is helping us become ourselves, whether we like it or not. Even people who—to put it kindly—were not fond of Milton owe him a debt of gratitude.

Summer Rewind: 10 Posts To Read Again

bullhorn

An inspiring list reflecting how passionate the field is when it comes to discussing everything from race, age, and gender diversity to industry concerns surrounding vital tools of the trade. Did you miss any of these conversations?

Electroacoustic Music is Not About Sound

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

Narrative structure and pitch specificity are now rarely considered in electroacoustic music. To claim that pitch specificity is important is to risk being labeled a reactionary or, worse yet, conventional. An even more profound change has taken place in our discourse regarding time. There is the strong suggestion that it is quaint to think of music as a narrative form, unfolding in time.

Towards The Future: New Music in the 21st Century

What is New Music

At a time when our most immediate collective reality is not only mediocre, but also dangerous and pathologically against the creation of fairer worlds, I would like to believe that there is some work to be done in our field, where perhaps we can reclaim creativity and imagination.

Timbre, Envelope and Variation in Electroacoustic Music

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

Timbre and envelope are intricately related and are major determinants of how effective a sound event in music will be, whether in acoustic music or electroacoustic music. Since the sound events used in electroacoustic music often have little or no distinct pitch characteristics, traditional contrapuntal sequencing devices often may not generate identifiable or interesting variations, but other techniques, including models borrowed from rhetoric, can be used effectively.

The Defeat of New Music

University of Arkansas

Because of Babbitt and others, contemporary music gained access to academia and did find some solace, but the price of admission was nevertheless very high. By fundamentally treating contemporary music as a field of scientistic exploration, this type of music neglected most of its bonds with modernity and its emancipatory project based on self-critique.

The Opportunity of Electroacoustic Musicology

A table with a variety of electroacoustic music gear. Image courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates for NYCEMF and the New York Philharmonic Biennial)

The musicological exploration of electroacoustic music, its historical and social dimensions, is long overdue. In fact, as so many pivotal figures pass away, I cannot fathom why there has not been a rush to collect primary source material, let alone to interpret it.

New Music Is Not (Necessarily) Contemporary Music

labels

New Music is at its core an artistic project based on critique: this is its link to modernity—what fundamentally defines its nature. It questions past, dysfunctional normative models as a means to generate newer, more appropriate aesthetic fields through which another future may be built.

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