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Electroacoustic Feedback and the Emergence of Sound Installation: Remarks on a line of flight in the live electronic music by Alvin Lucier and Max Neuhaus

  • Matthieu Saladin (a1)
Abstract

Reflecting upon Max Neuhaus’s and Alvin Lucier’s first electronic works on electroacoustic feedback, I will consider how their research into live electronic music, meant to be performed on stage, announced a whole other form of creation, which was paradoxically emancipated from the concert hall and essential to the emergence of sound art: sound installations. If both musicians first appropriated the electronic medium for its possibilities in sound transformation, it appears that these experimentations, and more precisely those using feedback, quickly extended into areas other than research on tone and the live dimension of electronic performances. Indeed, electroacoustic feedback, as a phenomenon of retroaction, goes beyond the mere relationship to the instrument: by manifesting itself in the looping of the electroacoustic chain (microphone-amplification-speakers), it straightaway inscribes the electronic device in a spatial dimension that is linked to the propagation of sound. By analysing Neuhaus’s and Lucier’s first experiments with feedback, the specificities of their apparatuses and the experiences they aimed to create and foster, this article wishes to question the role these experiments played in the emergence of both musicians’ concern with space, which is at the core of any understanding of their later works. We can then re-read their contribution to the history of live electronic music in the light of both bifurcations and lines of flight inherent in their respective bodies of work, in order to look into the emergence of a certain art of sound installation, in which the liveness of live electronic music, far from being pushed aside, seems to lead into other forms of creation and specific aesthetic questions.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Email: matthieu.saladin@univ-paris8.fr
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Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
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