EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Notions of Experiments in EAM

Per Anders Nilsson

Per Anders Nilsson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


In this paper the author presents notions of artistic experiments, in relation to electroacoustic music practices. As a start one may pose some questions: what is electroacoustic music, what is an experiment; is electroacoustic music still a form of experimental music? Are there answers to such questions? This presentation does not claim to give definite answers, rather a number of questions and perspectives are proposed on subject matter. One crux is that neither electroacoustic music nor the experimental is clearly defined and agreed upon.

What is electroacoustic music? It is, from my point of view, art music created with electronic equipment, generated and/or replayed and heard from loudspeakers, sometimes mixed with other media such as film/video, and/or musicians playing traditional musical instruments. And its roots can be found in the 20th century western art music tradition.

What is experimental art? Artistic experiments aim to explore the unknown and to create new artistic paths and is not subject for analyses of success or failure. In my opinion, the evaluation of a given artistic experiment is based on subjective aesthetical preferences and will accordingly be judged differently from artist to artist. Another view on experiments is to regard the electroacoustic music studio as an experimental system. The electroacoustic studio, whether it is a big professional studio or a lap-top based home studio, can like a church organ be regarded an experimental system. In such a view, it serves many purposes: as a musical instrument for realizations of artistic ideas, as well as a resource for artistic and scientific experimentation with sounds.

From one point of view electroacoustic music is no longer experimental because most barriers are broken. From another, it is still experimental, since composers nevertheless are still experimenting with new tools, and new expressions of music. The aim with such experimenting is most likely not to produce new knowledge per see, rather to produce new music, with each new piece composed however, new knowledge is produced.


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EMS18 Proceedings

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