Sounding Communities: Dis-Location in the Age of Interaction

Here are some initial thoughts on a topic of research I am thinking of undertaking in the near future. This line of thinking came about while working on my latest string quartet (to be premiered on Feb. 9th at the Rosza Centre at the UofC) where I use the idea of “decoupling”. Applying this technique of the post-post-modern school of composition to networked music seemed to work as the concept of networked music itself already is a kind of decoupling. Without further ado here is my (submitted) abstract for an upcoming conference:

 

Sounding Communities: Dis-Location in the Age of Interaction

This paper discusses “decoupling”, a compositional tool used by composers such as Cassidy, Cox, and Mahnkopf. Decoupling involves the dislocation and fragmentation of instrumental playing techniques, which removes the listener’s ability to associate specific gestures to resulting sounds. The telephone marked the first time in history that the voice could be dislocated/decoupled from the physical body and sent via electrical impulses through a wire. The advent of wax cylinders, and most recently digital recording technology and the internet made it possible to dislocate any sound from its source, store and recall it at any time and place, effectively removing the context of its origin. Networked music making grew out of these technologies and is becoming a much researched and practiced reality. For remote (spatially decoupled) performances, different network latencies for both video and audio transmissions create another temporal decoupling experience. This temporal dimension has been seen as a shortcoming of the technology with many resources devoted to overcoming it. This paper will make the argument that, like instrumental decoupling, networked decoupling can be used as an integral part of the compositional process and redefine the remote concert experience. As audiences and performers are already partially decoupled from the performance itself (e.g. several non-overlapping locations), the music itself needs to consciously adapt to this new environment. Mahnkopf, et al’s techniques can be used to (re)assess the creative use of the inherent possibilities in this new technology.

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