Conference paper Open Access

Beauchamp's Tenth Horse; Corwin, Reed, and Stoppard on Electroacoustic Music and Radio Sound Effects

Cummings, Troy

Norman Corwin’s Double Concerto (1941), Henry Reed’s A Hedge, Backwards (1956), and Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase (1972) are a collection of radio plays with striking similarities. Each is a comedy that features a fictional electroacoustic composer who imagines himself or herself a vanguard of innovation, and each features original electroacoustic compositions. From three vantages in time these radio plays explore ideas surrounding the composition, aesthetics, and criticism of electroacoustic music. Corwin composes with and discusses the potential of manipulated recorded sounds surprisingly early, in 1941. Fifteen years later in 1956, Reed focuses on the absurdity many must have heard in this new music following the first BBC broadcasts of electroacoustic music. Then in 1972, Stoppard looks back, positioning radio sound effects in the context of avant-garde experimentation in music and art in general. All three radio artists connect electroacoustic music and radio sound effects, audio arts with shared characteristics despite the vastly different settings they are heard in.

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