- Electroacoustic Music Studies Network 2008: Musique concrète—60 Years Later
"The City of Light" was the background for the fifth conference of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network (www.ems-network.org). [End Page 70] The conference was presented jointly by Musicologie, Informatique et Nouvelles Technologies (MINT) of the Observatoire Musical Français (OMF) at the Université Paris-Sorbonne and the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) of the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA). The EMS08 conference committee included Marc Battier and Bruno Bossis from MINT-OMF, Leigh Landy from De Montfort University (UK), and Daniel Teruggi and Christian Zanesi from INA/GRM, Paris.
Interestingly, after the submission deadline the conference dates were extended by two days because of the wealth of paper proposals. Was it the conference focus, Musique concrète—60 years later, that sparked this interest or was it because the conference was in Paris and people couldn't resist planning a trip to this picturesque center of Europe? I, for one, was delighted to add Paris to my summer itinerary.
The INA/GRM and OMF provided the venues for the conference. The local organizers were Olivier Baudouin (MINT-OMF), Frédéric Dufeu (Université Rennes 2), and Julie Hacquard (MINT). The papers were presented at INA, rue de Patay, and at the Maison de la Recherche at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. The concerts, banquet, and social events were hosted at the Maison de la Radio where GRM has facilities and where there are numerous concert halls. With three very different venues situated in different parts of Paris, finding the venues was sometimes a bit of an adventure, although I thoroughly enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets and learning to take the different metros that weave through Paris.
The conference also marked the 50th anniversary of GRM. As Pierre Schaeffer and his term musique concrète are a central part of the history of the GRM, his influence was lurking throughout the conference. When looking over the conference schedule, I was surprised to find only two presentations specifically about Pierre Schaeffer: Joel Chadabe's paper titled "Schaeffer in the United States," and "Balancing between Schafer and Schaeffer in Refining Young Children's Aural Perception within an Ecological Approach to Education," presented by Ioanna Etmektsoglou, Andreas Mniestris, and Theodore Lotis. But discussions of Schaeffer and musique concrète were omnipresent in many sessions and informal conversations.
The first two days of the conference were hosted by the INA. On the afternoon of Tuesday, 3 June, the conference began with a roundtable discussing the socio-political aspects of electroacoustic music ("aspects socio-politiques de la musique électroacoustique"). After a break, the keynote address was given by François Bayle, former director of GRM, and this was followed by a reception. It was a nice beginning to the conference with lots of time for socializing and a slightly relaxed schedule for those of us adjusting to the new time zone.
On Wednesday, 4 June, the conference began in earnest with the following four sessions: Electroacoustic Performance, Analysis and Research on Electroacoustic Music, Historical Impacts of Electroacoustic Music, and Musical Composition and Technology. Here again the schedule was slightly more relaxed with only one session at any given time. I particularly enjoyed the presentations by Margaret Schedel and Leigh Landy and I will discuss these in more detail herein.
From Thursday to Saturday the conference sessions were held at the Sorbonne. The facilities at the Maison de la Recherche included two rooms as well as a lobby area. By this time in the conference there were considerably more people attending the presentations, and there were more presentations to choose from. At times it was difficult to move around the lobby between sessions, but this was a great place for networking, discussions, and reflections.
During Thursday, the first day of the doubled sessions, one of the rooms was devoted to presentations hosted by the Electroacoustic Music Studies Asian Network (EMSAN, www.omf.paris-sorbonne.fr/EMSAN). The four sessions there focused on current topics surrounding electroacoustic music...