Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Twenty-Five Years of Electroacoustic Ignorance

The Eastman School of Music, located down the street from my office at the Hotel Cadillac, will present a festival of electroacoustic music beginning this week and lasting throughout the school year. The festival will be open to the general public and will take place in classrooms and other such venues where only students are allowed. The festival celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Eastman Computer Music Center.
The festivities include a performance of electroacoustic compositions deemed worthy by the cautiously insulated ECMC staff in a competition entitled “Electroacoustic Music Competition.” As always, the fine staff is more concerned with musical integrity than stylistic matters (as is evidenced by the fact that they’ve programmed their computers to dress them every morning using algorithms unrelated to recent fashion trends – see photo)
Interestingly, the ECMC fails to define “electroacoustic music,” leading this Professor (and potential applicant) to wonder whether he would be competing against cell-phone rings and Karaoke videos! Even after being in existence for twenty-five years, the ECMC does not know what “electroacoustic” means. Apparently, it does not refer to blending electronic and acoustic instruments since one of the award-winning works – Aubaine by Glechoma Dirk Specht and Gerriet K. Sharma – is scored only for “audio compact disc,” and another is scored only for piano with magnets!
Young composers, it is important to understand what you’re talking about, even when you’re talking about unfamiliar things. There is no excuse for the ECMC’s willful ignorance of the etymology of “electroacoustic.” For a better education, consider transferring to my classes at the Hotel Cadillac. In 2007, we will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of my Composer Isolation Chamber with a festival of acoustoelectric music, originally intended to be heard only by its creators. A competition will be announced in January, and you can be sure that the application form will include the requisite definitions.

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