EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Recording, Representation & Responsibility: questions of authorship and agency when field recording for electroacoustic composition

Tullis Rennie

Tullis Rennie, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast


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This presentation examines both the act of field recording and the practice of composing with this captured sound. In doing so, the aim is to identify questions and considerations for further discussion, focussing on:
a. the compositional decision-making implicit in the act of field recording;
b. the socio-cultural and political implications of composing with field recordings;
c. the perceived authorship and ownership over the recordings themselves, and any resulting composition;
d. the responsibility of representation of the self and other(s) in composition.
The results of this on-going practice-based research perhaps signify a new way forward for thinking about compositions derived from field recordings. The recordist-composer should recognise the active agency they have in the field, the responsibility of representation in composition, and equally that the ‘finished’ work is considered unfinished without the agency of a listener. All roles carry an equal level of responsibility and authorship.

EMS15 Proceedings