Tempo/Energia nel pensiero musicale del Novecento

Angelo Orcalli


During the twentieth century the relationship between music and machines has become increasingly broad and complicated. Composers and musicians are now working within a complex setting of electronic, optic, and acoustic equipment, which results from the original combination between technological research and artistic experimentation. These artifacts are «materialized theories» of sound, because their construction is the concrete result of a specific interpretation of sound and audio, which contributes to determining the horizon of possible manifestations of musical thinking at any given time. They allow us to generate processes which make it possible to amalgamate different representations and effects, organizing the simultaneous presence and live interaction of heterogeneous devices for sound production and control. As a consequence, music materials can no longer be seen as the set of natural and intuitive elements internally processed by an artist. Contemporary musicians, on the contrary, are used to continuously shifting from the symbolic forms of notation for voice and acoustic instruments to electronic sound synthesis, from orchestral practice registers to live interaction using a computer. As part of these processes, action continuously reviews its operating patterns based on a recording of the effects on its performance. Therefore, the universe of the composition is not at all foreordained, but saturated with contingencies; the relationship between the system and its surrounding reality is not established a priori, because changes are based on the analysis of immediate effects. Thus, the preordination dictated by «musical logic» gives way to approximate calculation. For this reason we should acknowledge that the complexity of contemporary media leaves no room for purely textual approaches; on the contrary, in order to understand it, new conceptual tools are called for, to the extent that the equipment used for musical creation is suitable for the logic of systems: it refers not only to sound, but also to the system design itself that generates it which has become an integral part of the work project. The pathway suggested here is aimed at historicizing the development of technologically-driven expression forms, using the notions of time and energy as conceptual guidelines.


aesthetics of music; music theory; electronic music; sound science

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-14103

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