Thor Magnusson: Sonic Writing: Technologies of Material, Symbolic, and Signal Inscriptions (2019)

16 September 2019, dusan

Sonic Writing explores how contemporary music technologies trace their ancestry to previous forms of instruments and media. Studying the domains of instrument design, musical notation, and sound recording under the rubrics of material, symbolic, and signal inscriptions of sound, the book describes how these historical techniques of sonic writing are implemented in new digital music technologies. With a scope ranging from ancient Greek music theory, medieval notation, early modern scientific instrumentation to contemporary multimedia and artificial intelligence, it provides a theoretical grounding for further study and development of technologies of musical expression. The book draws a bespoke affinity and similarity between current musical practices and those from before the advent of notation and recording, stressing the importance of instrument design in the study of new music and projecting how new computational technologies, including machine learning, will transform our musical practices.

Sonic Writing offers a richly illustrated study of contemporary musical media, where interactivity, artificial intelligence, and networked devices disclose new possibilities for musical expression. Thor Magnusson provides a conceptual framework for the creation and analysis of this new musical work, arguing that contemporary sonic writing becomes a new form of material and symbolic design–one that is bound to be ephemeral, a system of fluid objects where technologies are continually redesigned in a fast cycle of innovation.”

Publisher Bloomsbury Academic, New York & London, 2019
ISBN 9781501313851, 1501313851
xiv+290 pages

Reviews: Gregory Taylor (Cycling ’74, 2019), Diana Chester (Interference, 2019).

Author’s research blog
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The Guests Go in to Supper (1986)

4 November 2018, dusan

Featuring the works of seven composers, John Cage, Robert Ashley, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Charles Amirkhanian, Michael Peppe, and K. Atchley, who employ text as an integral part of their compositions, The Guests Go in to Supper is a collection of scores, texts, and interviews with the composers on their ideas on music, daily life, and the future’s possibilities.

Edited and designed by Melody Sumner, Kathleen Burch, and Michael Sumner
Foreword by Frances Butler
Introductions by Charles Shere
Publisher Burning Books, Oakland & San Francisco, 1986
ISBN 0936050055, 9780936050058
384 pages

Reviews: Mitchel Gass (Leonardo, 1988), (), (), ().

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Tony Harris: The Legacy of Cornelius Cardew (2013)

20 December 2014, dusan

Cornelius Cardew is an enigma. Depending on which sources one consults he is either an influential and iconic figure of British musical culture or a marginal curiosity, a footnote to a misguided musical phenomenon. He is both praised for his uncompromising commitment to world-changing politics, and mocked for being blindly caught up in a maelstrom of naïve political folly. His works are both widely lauded as landmark achievements of the British avant-garde and ridiculed as an archaic and irrelevant footnote to the established musical culture. Even the events of his death are shrouded in mystery and lack a sense of closure.

As long ago as 1967, Morton Feldman cited Cardew as an influential figure, central to the future of modern music-making. The extent to which Cardew has been a central figure and a force for new ideas in music forms the backbone to this book. Harris demonstrates that Cardew was an original thinker, a charismatic leader, an able facilitator, and a committed activist. He argues that Cardew exerted considerable influence on numerous individuals and groups, but also demonstrates how the composer’s significance has been variously underestimated, undermined and misrepresented.

Cardew’s diverse body of work and activity is here given coherence by its sharing in the values and principles that underpinned the composer’s world view. The apparently disparate and contradictory episodes of Cardew’s career are shown to be fused by a cohesive ‘Cardew aesthetic’ that permeates the man, his politics and his music.”

Publisher Ashgate, 2013
ISBN 140944810X, 9781409448105
228 pages

Reviews: Bruce Coates (Jems, 2013), Virginia Anderson (Music and Letters, 2013), Christopher Hobbs (NABMSA, 2013).

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WorldCat

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