Implements and Artisans: the craft of electroacoustic composition

University of Calgary
School of Creative and Performing Arts, Music Faculty of Arts
CH D100, 2500 University Drive NW Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 CANADA

Since the designation ``artist'' is employed today to describe almost anyone with a minimal skill-set that can produce an observable outcome, perhaps the role of the electroacoustic composer, immersed in an array of complex tools requiring mastery for their artistic application, is more that of the artisan, a worker in a skilled trade making things of high quality and distinction in small quantities, usually by hand. The tools and implements of the artisan are carefully chosen to afford exploration and refinement, creation and production. The deployment of these implements requires craft and skill that is idiosyncratic to the art form and the materials of which it is made. Whether a crowded room of boxes, buttons and cables, or a lonely laptop and headphones, the electroacoustic studio represents an electronic instrumentarium tailored to artistic objectives and practices. There exist powerful paradigms established by commercial practice and prevailing consumer culture in regards to the interface and functionality of the implements of the studio environment. Yet, these models are increasingly modified by an artist agenda and an attendant social stance that considers the toolset as malleable, to be remade and repurposed to serve the requirements of a single or series of creative projects. This paper will examine the evolving artisanal environment of the craft of electroacoustic composition. A theoretical framework for an evaluation of the implements and environments of this craft will draw upon theories of technology and affordance, as well as recent developments in activity theory and the notion of concept as tool.

adrian 2015-06-03