EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Acoulogie: an answer to Lévi-Strauss?

John Dack

Senior Research Fellow, Lansdown Cenre for Electronic Art, Middlesex University, Cat Hill, Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN4 8HT, UK.


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My paper will examine Lévi-Strauss’ critical opinions regarding musique concrète taking Pierre Schaeffer’s comprehensive Programme de la Recherche Musicale (PROGREMU) as my main point of reference. Lévi-Strauss claimed that the ‘noises’ of musique concrète (and the term ‘noise’ demands detailed examination!) excluded the possibility of a second level of articulation. Lévi-Strauss wrote: ‘(…) but it is then impossible to define simple relations among the latter (pseudo-sounds), such as could already form an already significant system on another level and would be capable of providing the basis for a second articulation. Musique concrète may be intoxicated with the illusion that it is saying something; in fact it is floundering in non-significance’ (Lévi-Strauss, 1969: 23). I will examine the role of the Schaefferian discipline of acoulogy, which explicitly sought to bridge the divide between sounds and meaning, and will, therefore, clarify the position of musique concrète theory and provide a counter-argument to Lévi-Strauss.