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virtue of the book’s encyclopedic style, the authorbecomesallbut invisibleto the reader, and no small measure of excitement is lost as a result. As a point of comparison, Herbert Russcol’s The Liberation o f Sound covers essentially identical subject matter in a much more engaging style. The interested dilettante might be well advised to start there. One also should note, given the somewhat ambiguous nature of the title, that although the author does devote some space to the technical aspects of the subject, this book is not a handbook of technique-it is a historical reference. Manning’s book is divided into four sections, with an introduction and a conclusion. In the introduction he describes the precursors of modern electronic music during the first half of this century, a period characterized predominantly by experiments in the incorporation of a wide variety of now mostly extinct electronic instruments and other nontraditional sound sources into symphonic performances. The first section deals with the period from 1945until 1960.During these years, driven by the practical development of the tape recorder in the late 1930s and early 1940s, important studios were established in Europe. The practice of electronic music largely disappeared behind the doorsof thesestudios,and live performance gave way to the production of finished pieces for tape. The demand for a new aesthetic of composition direct to tape ledto a profound split betweenthe studio at Paris, which, under the directorship of Pierre Schaeffer, advocated the assembly and manipulation of prerecorded natural sounds (musique concrkte), and the studio at Cologne, which, guided by the electronic fundamentalist Herbert Eimert, favored the production of works based exclusivelyon layered pure electronic tones (elektronische musik). Regardless of their philosophical differences, these studios were allied in their search for control techniques powerful enough to meet the demands of their almost infinitely variable new sound sources. Thesecondsectionservesprimarily asa practical guide to voltage-controlled synthesis. Although developed originally in response to the aforementioned needin the studios for less tedious and more flexiblecontrol methods, the technique of voltage-control ultimately led to the production of a new generation of performance-oriented electronic instruments , which would prompt many practitioners to leave the studio once again in favor of live electronic performance. In the third section, the author devotes one chapter to each of the three primary directions of electronic music in the period since 1960.Onechapter coversthe continuing evolution of the tape studios and the work of Ashley and Mumma, Babbitt, Berio,LueningandUssachevsky, Reich and Riley,Stochhausen, Subotnick, Xenakis and many others. Another is devoted to the reemergent thrust toward live electronic performance. In addition to the hybrid ‘live accompanied by tape’ works, this period witnessed the birth of the electronic ensemble. As typified by the groups formed by Cage, Reich and Riley, and Glass, these ensembles promoted the live use of the new generation of voltage-controlled and, increasingly, digitally controlled electronic instruments to thevirtual exclusion of traditional instrumentation. The final chapter of this section covers the introduction of electronic instrumentation into rock and popular music. The digital revolution of the 1970sand 1980s is the subject of the last section. Manning discusses the pioneering work of Mathews at Bell Labs in the 1950sand the research efforts of the major centersat Paris (IRCAM), Stanford (CCRMA), MIT and Utrecht. In a brief conclusionManning identifies several important issues that presently confront the serious practitioner of electronic music. For example, he discusses the powerful influence that the popular music market now has on the direction of research and development efforts into new machinery. The exigencies of streamlined performance capability often result in the need to hide the extraordinary power and flexibilityof the digital synthesizer behind an overly ‘user-friendly’, and therefore inflexible, control interface. The number of musicians interested in unlimited access to the essential capability of a synthesizer is often not adequate to make economically feasible the provision of those controls necessary to allow it. The reader of this book occasionally may find the need to step back from the barrage of detail for a more holistic view of the field and its major currents. It then becomesevidentthat thehistorical record reflects the way in which technological breakthroughs, in particular the tape recorder, the voltage...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 211
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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