Kees Tazelaar: On the Threshold of Beauty: Philips and the Origins of Electronic Music in the Netherlands, 1925-1965 (2013–)

16 November 2020, dusan

“The first studio for electronic music in the Netherlands was not a radio studio — as in so many other countries — it was located at the research laboratory of Philips (also known at NatLab). From 1930 it had been part of the electro-acoustic research program which combined technical, economic, sociologic and musical aspects. The first compositions realized in the Philips studio were thus test-cases. Parallel to this research, other departments of Philips, purely focused at marketing, developed plans for the Philips Pavilion at the World Expo of 1958 at Brussels. Philips planned a demonstration for the general public of the possibilities of sound and light, but through the engagement of Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis and Edgar Varèse this project took a strong turn towards the avant-garde. The result, now considered a milestone in the history of electronic music, was in many ways more experimental than the music produced at the Philips research laboratory.

The story of electronic music at the Philips research laboratory and the Philips Pavilion are the first two main strands of the book On the Threshold of Beauty, in which Kees Tazelaar for the first time unravels the course of events, and debunks some of the myths around the Philips Pavilion. A third historical strand concerns the needs of composers, who desired to learn how to compose in the new medium. In 1957 Walter Maas and the CEM set up an electronic studio at the Technical University of Delft for this purpose, which fused with the Philips studio in 1960, and afterwards moved to the University of Utrecht. Tazelaar writes about the works realized at this studio (STEM), as well as about the activities of the ground-breaking German composer Gottfried Michael Koenig who comes to the Netherlands in 1961 and in 1964 takes over the direction of STEM.”

Publisher V2_, Rotterdam, 2013
Revised digital edition, 2020
Open access
ISBN 9789462080652, 9462080658
314 pages
HT Raviv

Reviews: René van Peer (Eindhovens Dagblad, NL, 2013), Hubert Steins (MusikTexte, 2014, DE), Maarten Brandt (OpusKlassiek, NL, 2014), Aurelio Cianciotta (Neural, 2014), Gregory Taylor (Cycling74, 2015).

Book website
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Publisher (digital edition)
WorldCat

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Frans Evers: The Academy of the Senses: Synesthetics in Science, Art, and Education (2012)

24 June 2020, dusan

Frans Evers’s The Academy of the Senses is a book wanting to be three books at once. A study of the scientific approaches to synesthesia, related to the psycho-physical research conducted by Evers during his studies at the university; an alternative art history of the twentieth century based on the double paradigm of Castel’s clavecin oculaire and Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk; and a full account of the genesis of the Interfaculty Image & Sound. To encompass this entire range of subject, Evers coined a new term, “synesthetics,” to denote the experience, creative force, and study of synesthesia.

Throughout his career, Evers profiled himself as an educational reformer. Together with electronic music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers, he started a series of projects and lectures exploring the interaction of music and fine arts, which culminated in the establishment of the first multimedia department in the Netherlands, the Interfaculty Image & Sound at the University of the Arts in The Hague, which Evers headed from 1989 until 2007. This book maps out the theoretical and artistic foundations of this educational reform project, as well as its synesthetic output: large multi-media performances such as a reworking of Anton Schoenberg’s Die Glückliche Hand, Mondrian’s Promenoir, and Scheuer im Haag.

The Academy of the Senses is a “source book,” a work of inspiration, rather than a rigid account of historical facts. It provides anyone with an interest in the wondrous realm of multimedia arts and synesthesia as a creative force, whether student or professional, an introduction into the foundations and extensions of seeing sound and hearing colors throughout the centuries.”

Compiled and edited by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Publisher ArtScience Interfaculty Press, University of the Arts, The Hague, 2012
ISBN 9789461908193, 9461908199
298 pages
via editor

Review: Matteo Marangoni (Neural, 2013).

Editor
WorldCat

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Jennifer Iverson: Electronic Inspirations: Technologies of the Cold War Musical Avant-Garde (2018)

29 April 2020, dusan

“Cold War electronic music—made with sine tone and white-noise generators, filters, and magnetic tape—was the driving force behind the evolution of both electronic and acoustic music in the second half of the twentieth century. Electronic music blossomed at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR [West German Radio]) in Cologne in the 1950s, when technologies were plentiful and the need for cultural healing was great. Building an electronic studio, West Germany confronted the decimation of the “Zero Hour” and began to rebuild its cultural prowess. The studio’s greatest asset was its laboratory culture, where composers worked under a paradigm of invisible collaboration with technicians, scientists, performers, intellectuals, and the machines themselves. Composers and their invisible collaborators repurposed military machinery in studio spaces that were formerly fascist broadcasting propaganda centers. Composers of Cold War electronic music reappropriated information theory and experimental phonetics, creating aesthetic applications from military discourses. In performing such reclamations, electronic music optimistically signaled cultural growth and progress, even as it also sonified technophobic anxieties. Electronic music—a synthesis of technological, scientific, and aesthetic discourses—was the ultimate Cold War innovation, and its impacts reverberate today.”

Publisher Oxford University Press, New York, 2018
The New Cultural History of Music series
ISBN 9780190868192, 0190868198
xi+303 pages

Reviews: Lucie Vágnerová (Integral, 2019), Ted Gordon (Current Musicology, 2019), James Davis (Music & Letters, 2019), Maurice Windleburn (Sound Studies, 2020).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (32 MB)