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Reviewed by:
  • Prostranstvennaja Musica (Spatial Music)
  • Stefaan van Ryssen
Prostranstvennaja Musica (Spatial Music) by Bulat Galeyev. Editor FAN Publishers, Kazan, Russia, 2004. 159 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 5-9690-001-9.

Spatial Music: History, Theory, Practice is published in Russian by the Prometheus Research Institute of Experimental Aesthetics in Kazan (Tatarstan). This institute is a joint department of the Kazan State Technological University (KGTU) and Tatarstan Republic Academy of Sciences and promotes the interaction between scientists and artists in all fields. In their own words, their activities can be brought together under three headings: scientific prognostication in the fields of aesthetics and psychology; development of the necessary technical equipment; art experiments on the basis of this technique <>. The Institute thus continues a strong tradition toward the creation of "gesamtkunstwerke" in Russian art, starting with Scriabin, Tatlin and Kandinsky and the line of research into new techniques in music of which L. Theremin, the inventor of the Theremin, probably is the best known exponent. The Prometheus institute also prides itself on a close collaboration with Leonardo.

The first chapter of the book sketches a brief history of spatial music, or rather of all kinds of musical [End Page 94] practices that take spatial distribution of the sound source as an integral part of their architecture. As such, the complex polyphonic music of the "Fiaminghi," Flemish composers who wrote music for four and more choirs for San Marco in Venice, is an early predecessor, proving that spatial aspects have always interested musicians. This interest waned with the gradual shift from polyphony to the homophonic orchestra and the concert hall practice, but it emerged again in the 20th century in the works of, among many others, Mahler, Satie, Varèse and Ives. Later, with the advent of electronic music and electronic equipment, new experiments became possible. Varèse's music for the Phillips pavilion at the EXPO in Brussels in 1958 remains a landmark.

The second chapter analyzes the physical and psychological aspects of spatial music, setting the stage for the lengthy exposition of the aesthetic and technical principles that underlie the spatial music installation built by the Prometheus Institute. The third and last chapter describes in great detail the software and hardware of this light-music system.

The book contains a very short summary in English.

Stefaan van Ryssen
Hogeschool Gent, Belgium. E-mail <>.


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pp. 94-95
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