Conference paper Open Access

Memory, flux, wayfinding (in future electroacoustic music studies)

Emmerson, Simon

Studying electroacoustic music in all its many forms forced us to re-examine all previous notions of ‘music analysis’. Ours rapidly became a multidiscipline. The absence of the traditional ‘score’ prompted borrowing from non-western music and acoustics new forms of transcription, and a range of integrated audio-visual tools has developed. But tensions have emerged, summarised in a pair of phrases I shall critique: ‘in time’ and ‘outside time’ information. The nature of memory has been progressively changing over the centuries. We have only just begun to harness our abilities (less than 150 years old) to ‘hold time’ (not hold it back) in audio and video recording. We appear to be able to do externally the same ‘hop, skip and jump’ that we do in head-space memory. I shall suggest we can build better schemas to perceive these relationships. My holding metaphor is as old as reflection itself – the flow of the river (from Heraclitus to Wittgenstein), with care to allow the riverbed and banks their full role. To what end? I shall suggest a shift from ‘mapping’ to ‘wayfinding’ (after Ingold), from hovering above an abstraction to experiencing the flux from within. In our subject field it makes more sense to ‘study the music’ through experiencing it.

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