Performing shapes

Williams, Sean (2013). Performing shapes. In: Researching music as process: methods and approaches, 22 Nov 2013, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Abstract

What are the benefits of spending 200+ hours executing highly repetitive technical tasks using old-fashioned equipment in order to make a new version of a 3 minute long piece of electronic music from 60 years ago?

I give a brief account of my working methods calculating parameter values, fixing and calibrating machines, splicing tape, measuring dB values using 50s technology and discuss issues arising including the effects of large scale repetition of physical tasks; the difficulty of implementing seemingly straightforward technical instructions; the role, hierarchy and detectability of errors; the need for reflexive practice to adapt the results of technical processes to achieve the desired results.

I demonstrate the sonic implications of some of my decisions by comparing the dramatic differences in sound when different techniques are used, and show the scope for musical and aesthetic judgement – interpretation and performance practice - in a seemingly solely technical process.

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