In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

developed by Cahill at the turn of the century played arrangements of popular pieces through telephone subscription . And the Thereminvox (or Etherwave ), developed in the 1920s, retained the flavor of a commercial endeavor (through the intervention of RCA, which built and sold hundreds of units) , while at the same time it attracted innovative composers such as Cowell, Varese and Schillinger . Studies by scholars such as Tom Rhea have shown that, of the large number of electric instruments built in the first half of the century, few are remembered. Even fewer remain. A documentation of those endeavors, thus, must take into consideration several points, including the technical importance of the instrument. Has it brought significant improvement or offered an entirely new angle? Le Caine was one of the first electric instrument -builders to realize that a musical tone is composed of many different parameters that are characterized by their varying time behavior. This research topic led to important discoveries on the nature of timbre in the investigations ofJean-Claude Risset, John Grey,John Chowning and many others. Indeed, it is still an important subject of study today. RCA, in the 1950s, undertook a project of building an electronic synthesizer whose tone qualities could be measured against real instruments and, through the specification of several parameters, permitted a synthesized tone to sound like a natural one. Both insufficient knowledge of the nature of tones and the primitive technology of the time prevented the project from arriving at the expected results. Young;s description ofLe Caine's search is fascinating; one must realize that it is through the work of pioneers like him that we now take for granted that time behavior is an inherent component of timbre . Also impressive is the author's account ofLe Caine's research in the area ofgestural control devices. His ground-breaking work on the keyboard , begun when he was practicing the piano as a child, is seminal. Today , many questions remain on the issue of control devices, despite the number of efforts and innovative work in this field. The book has several appendices and includes quite a large number of footnotes. Unfortunately, the footnote section is plagued by an all-toocommon problem: footnotes are gathered by chapter number. When one wants to refer to a footnote in the course of reading, one has to keep track of the current chapter number, which is indicated only at the head of the chapter and in the table of contents . This is acceptable for a continuous reading, but not if one prefers reading at random, by looking up a particular topic from the index list. Checking the current chapter number in this fashion is obviously a timeconsuming inconvenience that could easily be prevented. Also on the downside, it is regrettable that certain individuals are introduced in a way that makes it hardly possible to assess their importance or even to situate them precisely in the history of electronic music. For instance , is theJohn Pierce mentioned on one occasion the sameJohn Pierce who is considered a pioneer in so many areas and of such recognized importance in the field of acoustics and computer music? Along the same lines, the bibliography presents William Buxton and DavidJaeger, to name two, as "students". This is misleading , as both are known to be innovative professional practitioners of electronic and computer music. The same remark can be applied to the mention of Lejaren Hiller, presented as "a composer at the University ofIllinois ". Although not incorrect, it is not doing justice to someone of the stature of Hiller; I feel that a simple mention of his importance would have enhanced this reference and clarified the importance of the letter exchange between Hiller and Le Caine. The iconography is splendid. All the photo sources are given. Also of interest is the list of Le Caine's patents , each complete with its file number and date. This book is the result of a rare dedication regarding the work of an electronic-music pioneer and springs from a genuine passion for electronic music. One hopes to see more books of this sort in the future. LIGHT-MUSIC IN THEATRE~D VARIETY: PROCEEDINGS OF THE ALL~UNION SEMINAR Kazan, Russia...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-4812
Print ISSN
0961-1215
Pages
pp. 119-120
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-06
Open Access
No
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