EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Performance Ecosystems: Ecological approaches to musical interaction

Simon Waters

University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK


PDF - 1.2 Mb
Download the paper


The terms ‘performer’, ‘instrument’ and ‘environment’ seem to determine self-evidently distinct categories. These become problematic in highly technologised contexts, and recent critical attention has focused on contiguities between composition and performance, performer and instrument, instrument and environment. This paper will look at a variety of practical projects and performances hosted at the University of East Anglia over the past four years, paying particular attention to some of the of hybrid virtual/physical feedback instruments developed there, but it will also seek to reconnect the notion of a fluidity between performer, instrument and environment with models from far earlier in the practice of music. The ‘performance ecosystem’ is presented as a fruitful tool for understanding the.work of practitioners such as Nic Collins and Agostino di Scipio, but which is equally applicable to the concerns of contemporary improvisers and to those of composers and performers from far earlier in music’s history.