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Toward Eternal Tonehenge

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

In the introduction to the seminal work entitled An Introduction to the Creation of Electroacoustic Music, Professor Sam Pellman wrote:

For thousands of years, the predominant medium of musical expression was the human voice. In the past few centuries, however, musical instruments have become increasingly important. The sophistication of these instruments has paralleled the development of technology in general. Early musical instruments were relatively simple devices constructed of wood or of the horns of animals. By the 19th century, the level of mechanical ingenuity had progressed to the point that remarkably clever instruments made of a wide variety of materials, including metals, could be perfected or invented. The piano is perhaps the best representative of the technology of that time. Modern wind and brass instruments, such as the saxophone and the trumpet, reached maturity during this time as well. One thing that all of these instruments had in common was that they depended on the power of human breath or the muscles of the arms to create the waves of sound that could be heard as music.

The preeminent technology of the 20th century has been electronic. It seems inevitable, therefore, that musical instruments would be developed that would apply the power of electricity and the control capabilities of electronics to the task of creating musical sounds. The field of scientific study that deals with the transformation of energy between electrical forms and acoustical forms is called electroacoustics. This term has been borrowed by musicians who use electronic instruments, so that their music has come to be known as electroacoustic music. Such music may consist of sounds that are produced naturally and then transformed electronically . . . or of sounds that are created synthetically, by oscillating electrical circuits . . . . Most typically, perhaps, it includes both kinds of sounds. Indeed, the array of resources available to contemporary musicians working in the medium of electroacoustic music is an impressively rich and immense one . . . .

Samuel Pellman, An Introduction to the Creation of Electroacoustic Music xv (Wadsworth 1994).

Earlier this month, Pellman died suddenly at the age of sixty-four.

Here is an example of his recent work:

Sam’s Music for Contemporary Media course remains one of the most memorable educational experiences of my life. I offer here two of the projects I created as a part of that course.

Categories: Current, Education, Listening, Music
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