EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Exploring the Nexus of Collaboration, Notation and Meaning in Mixed Electroacoustic Music

Terri Hron

Terri Hron, Université de Montréal, 2900 Boulevard Edouard-Montpetit, Montreal, QC H3T 1J4 / CIRMMT, 527 Sherbrooke St. West Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A


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For acoustic instrument performers of mixed electroacoustic music, the location of meaning is as hybridized and perplexing as the place of the genre itself within musical practice. While most acoustic instrument performers within the (contemporary) classical tradition might search for meaning close to the score, those specializing in mixed music repertoire find that notation often proves a false friend, or at least not a map of the meaning of the work. This presentation is the result of interviews with performers commissioning new works for their instruments and electronics: Luciane Cardassi, piano; Laura Carmichael, clarinet; Dana Jessen, bassoon; Michael Straus, saxophone - and with the composers who have written works for them: Paula Matthusen, Chantale Laplante, Peter Swendsen. My questions revolved around the relationship of notation to the meaning of a work – with particular attention to what changes when technology/electroacoustics plays a part – and the role taken by collaboration in creating that meaning and notation. I suggest that many aspects of these new works, including meaning, are not “written” into the composition, but are “discovered” somewhere between the expertise of the performer and that of the composer. As such, this partnership is a prime example of the “Zone of Proximal Development”, introduced by the early creativity scholar, L. S. Vygotsky, who described it as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving, and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under the guidance of or in collaboration with more capable peers.”

EMS12 Proceedings