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The authors describe various experiences regarding the use of sonic materials from local musical cultures and soundscapes in the field of electroacoustic music as applied to the creative documentary. The introduction concentrates on the general characteristics of the process of ‘globalisation’ now underway and on the various different interpretations of it that have been developed over the last fifteen years.
A number of methodological and ethical questions are then asked in relation to the debate regarding the global/local dichotomy in the context of electroacoustic and audiovisual elaboration, especially when phonic material originating from the most varied geographic-cultural areas is artistically restructured and reconfigured.
In the third part of the article the accent is placed on the personal experiences of the authors regarding the production of pieces of electroacoustic music and documentaries realised in Morocco, China and Lapland.
In the last section the article concentrates on a possible diachronic perspective (i.e. studying a phenomenon in its passage through time) by means of which one can come to a relationship with soundscape sounds, and some sonic and visual examples from works realised in Catania and London are supplied.
With the development of modern high-speed communication our sense of local and global are blurred to the point that these two topological extremes are often conflated as ‘glocal’. This paper examines the significance of this change and assesses its effects on the productivity and creativity of electroacoustic musicians. More profoundly, it also considers whether this shift in social geography had any bearing on the constitution of an explicit electroacoustic community.
To specifically carry out this analysis we consider how an understanding of the system of social relations as a non-random network changes our perception of proximity and distance. We then derive a typology for the contemporary critiques of new technologies and highlight the opportunities it offers to interpret social relations anew. This analysis helps firm up the notion of virtuality that we use to explore our understanding of electroacoustic musical creation with respect to the benefits it can derive from a ‘glocal’ environment. It also establishes the premise of a collective subject emerging from ‘glocal’ communications that may serve as a seed to a renewed electroacoustic community.
The author covers the background of soundscape composition, as initiated by the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University, and soundscape documentation as an activity that is being increasingly practised worldwide. Today there are two striking manifestations of this work: the increasing globalisation of the electroacoustic community, and the increasing sophistication of digital techniques applied to soundscape composition. In addition, the tradition of listening to environmental soundscapes as if they were music is inverted to suggest listening to electroacoustic music as if it were soundscape. What analytical tools and insights would result? The theoretical concepts introduced in soundscape studies and acoustic communication are summarised and applied first to media and digital gaming environments, noting the extensions of both their sound worlds and the related listening attitudes they provoke in terms of analytical and distracted listening. Traditional approaches to acousmatic and soundscape analysis are compared for their commonalities and differences, the latter being mainly their relative balance of attention towards inner and outer complexity. The types of electroacoustic music most amenable to a soundscape based analysis are suggested, along with brief examples of pieces to which such analysis might be directed.
This article is a development, refinement and expansion of a paper presented at the Electroacoustic Music Studies Conference, 2007 (EMS07). It aims to provide a framework and terminology for the discussion, analysis and creation of music that articulates mimetic discourse and structure. In doing so, it also intends to enable parallel and complementary analytical approaches to those concerned with the aural and spatial aspects of musical articulation. It proposes the notion of multidimensional mimetic space, taking as its point of departure Emmerson's Language Grid (Emmerson 1986), and constructing additional axes representing compositional continua, similar in function to those proposed by spectromorphology (Smalley 1986), but applicable to mimetic material. The argument considers the mimetic implications of both purely acousmatic music and works that combine the acousmatic with live performance. After a brief consideration of the relationship between mimetic space and space-form (Smalley 2007a), the discussion concludes with a perspective on narrative as a component of mimetic space; providing an extensive discussion of issues pertinent to the idea of signifier space, which was originally introduced in the preceding paper.
An aspect of the local/global binarism in music regards the cultural identity of the sounds, musical styles and grammars of a composition. This article intends to explore the role of the local/global issue in the context of the semantic dimension of sounds, both during the composition of a musical piece and during its reception.
In the first part of the article the local or global identity of a sonic event will be examined from two different perspectives: on the one hand that of the composer, starting from his or her attitudes with regard to the semantic aspects of the sonic material and the compositional processes used; on the other hand that of the listener, starting from the cognitive processes (s)he activates in the search for a musical and an extramusical meaning. Based on this analysis, in the second part of the article the usefulness of describing the cultural identity of a sonic event and more generally its semantic dimensions in terms of ‘shared connotations’ will be explored. Finally, some of the interactions between connoted sonic events will be analysed, mainly focusing on global and local cultural identities.
Cheaply available high-quality digital recording equipment, and the ubiquity of computer music tools and the Internet make the creation of electroacoustic music in diverse localities, and its dissemination around the globe, extremely easy. This raises important questions about the relationship of local sound worlds and cultural experience to a potentially global audience. This quandary is examined through the compositions Globalalia (which deals explicitly with speech material from many languages) and Fabulous Paris – a virtual oratorio whcih uses speech in different ways to contrast our relationship to the local and personal with our relationship to the mass experience of the globalised mega-city. The problems in relating to both a local and a global audience are considered in relation to the composer's current project recording speech materials in local communities in the North East of England.
The phenomenon of contemporary composers reaching across cultures in search of inspiration, musical materials and forms, and new ideas is not a new one, but it is occurring now with greater frequency. Some seek to join inherited traditions from within their own ancestral cultures with new traditions from the West or with new technologies. Some are Westerners exploring traditional musical forms and aesthetics from cultures different from their own. The process of engaging interculturally raises complex issues, at times challenging historical attitudes towards the culture of ‘the other’. The author considers a wide range of motivations for this emerging body of work, surveying the range of approaches that composers have taken, and urges the cultivation of cultural sensitivity. This essay proposes what the author terms a ‘reflective compositional process’ with which composers can explore their motivations and compositional strategies and consider the relationships inhering between materials and cultural origins. Implications for works engaging new technologies are considered throughout the essay.
Following Marshall McLuhan's concept of a global village as a form of universal organisation in a technically dominated world, terms of globality and locality, and the concepts of world and village as social constructions in order to organise perception in an enhanced social environment are discussed in matters of their relevance in the context of electroacoustic music and especially its studies. In relation to historical as well as to more theoretical examples from the field of electroacoustic music, problems of perceiving spaces, places and locations are introduced. The solutions proposed here are primarily based on system theory approaches (as for instance Luhmann and Bühl) and newer network theory concepts (as for example Castells and Nowotny). The network is proposed as a kind of explanatory model in today's media-dominated world. Focusing on a model oriented to difference, ‘global’ and ‘local’ are regarded as categories guiding perception in matters of equality and difference. In this way the problem of listening to the other in opposition to the self is introduced. Thus it is demonstrated that there can never be a global sound or even a sounding globality. The phenomenon of soundscapes is discussed as a central theme in relation to its role as a listening strategy, its appearance in music and its own musicality.
Organised Sound publishes a DVD annually in its issue 3. As of the current issue, 13/2, Cambridge University Press is publishing all media examples online when the issue comes out. Furthermore, all media examples in volumes 1/1 to 13/1 will be appearing in the near future on the Cambridge Journals Online site. The following media examples are mentioned in this ‘Global/Local’ issue. They can therefore be found online and will also appear on the 13/3 DVD.