Field recordings continue to be a source of compositional material for many contemporary electroacoustic composers. How does the crisis of representation within the world of field recording apply to electroacoustic composition, and particularly acousmatic music? If field recordings are decontextualised or masked, and their original context hidden, does this alter or avoid any ethical considerations a composer might face?

As a composer, the question of why one might record something at all can be difficult to answer on ethical grounds, especially if the motive is primarily `because it sounds interesting and I want to use it in a compositional art work'. We might begin by considering the recordists' connection with the sound they are recording. They may be an `insider' in anthropological terms or a sonic `stakeholder' (Blackburn, 2014: 149), which potentially gives the recordist-composer more freedom to capture and work with the sound in question. If the recordist is an outsider, the difficulties become apparently more challenging. Their connection with the place or people they wish to capture, why they are recording, and for whose benefit come under greater scrutiny. How will the insiders to that environment be involved in any of the process? How will the composer represent them?

adrian 2015-06-03