EMF10 - The State of the Art:
A Status Report on Electronic Music Worldwide
Check out EMF@Chelsea Art Museum
Electronic Music Foundation, founded in 1994, is celebrating
its 10th anniversary season from
September 2004 through June 2005. We'd be delighted if at some
moment during this time, you would lift a glass high, wish us
well, and send us a short message. Any ideas or thoughts you'd
like to share with us would be most welcome.
We're taking the occasion of our 10th anniversary to organize
a status report on electronic music worldwide. Our themes are
the empowerment of individual creativity, worldwide community,
and environmental awareness. We'd like to pose questions such
as these: How can electronic technology be used musically by
people from a diversity of countries and continents, musical
cultures, ethnic traditions, economic
backgrounds, racial identities? How can the empowerment of individual
creativity inspire worldwide communication and community? How
can the use of technology in music inspire real-world awareness
in people through interactive processes, the use of language,
environmental sounds, and other musical materials and processes?
Fully realizing that answers to these questions are not simple,
we hope to derive insights from our many and varied activities
of this year, all of which will be described or introduced in
this site. These are the activities we're planning:
We're producing events in New York City, including concerts,
installations, and a major musical/visual exhibition on the use
of sound to tell us about our world.
We're collaborating and participating in events around the
world, including symposia, presentations, and concerts in Paris,
and, as a demonstration of the democratization of electronic
music technology, a festival of laptop music worldwide.
And we're initiating new ongoing programs, among them web
portals to promote the work of our Subscribers and a research
project in electronic instrument design.
The image alongside shows a 200-ton 'menhir', a stone monument,
on the island of Gavrinis in the Bay of Morbihan, which is on
the south coast of Brittany in France. This large stone was put
in place in approximately 3,500 BC, then cut in half about 200
years later. How it was moved to its present place, how it was
erected, and how and why it was cut into pieces remains the subject
of conjecture. But however imperfect and incomplete, such objects
do communicate information about the technology and thought of
their times. And in that sense, the menhir of Gavrinis is a time
At this time, we are at the beginning of the 21st century.
We are also at the beginning of technological developments that
are increasingly challenging the ways in which we think about
music. And we can assume that in the future, people will look
back and wonder how we did things, how we made sound, what instruments
we used ...
This is the time for us to make a time capsule. We invite
all EMF Subscribers, as a self-selected and varied group of musicians
that are professionally involved in electronic music, to send
us a written artist's statement that we can publish on the web
and make available to the public today and into the indefinite
The statement should be around 1000 words, or less, or more,
that may or may not deal with any or all of these questions:
How and why do you make music? How would you describe your
music? What systems or instruments do you use and why? How do
you view your relationship to the equipment you use? Or your
relationship with performers? Or with the public?
Please send your statement to email@example.com
Symposium on the Future
Many artists have devised, composed for, and written about
original electronic musical instruments during the past 30 years,
yet no comprehensive picture of the immense creative potential
of electronic musical instruments has emerged.
The goal of this project is to articulate that creative potential
by showing how electronic musical instruments can play an essential
role in the empowerment of individual creativity and self-expression
for anyone, anywhere in the world.
Our method is:
to formulate an evolving theory, i.e. a set of principles,
that describes a taxonomy / design space of electronic musical
instruments in which the structure of an instrument is related
to the nature of its functioning for a particular category of
performer, such as a professional performer onstage, an amateur
performer at home, children learning about sound, the general
public in an interactive installation ...;
to produce and document a series of public performances to
be evaluated in the context of the evolving theory, each public
performance demonstrating an instrument that is either designed
by an established artist or created specifically to demonstrate
a new performance principle; and
to place the evolving theory in the context of the UNESCO
Digi-Arts Portal, a program aimed at developing ways in which
the digital arts can be used to inspire world community and foster
education in developing countries. EMF is already a partner with
UNESCO in the Digi-Arts Portal.
The results of this project will be:
the formulation of a comprehenisve theory that articulates
the cultural and artistic potential of electronic musical instruments
in the empowerment of individual creativity;
a body of documentation in sound, image, and text of the performances,
conferences, and other events that have informed the evolution
of the theory, to be published as a website within The EMF Institute
the development of new instrument concepts; and
an accumulating wisdom regarding the potential benefits of
individual creativity as they encourage world community and foster
The agency responsible for administrating the Symposium is
Electronic Music Foundation. The Symposium is a joint project
of EMF and New York University, in which EMF produces the events
and NYU operates the technology workshop. The project co-Directors
are Joel Chadabe, President of Electronic Music Foundation, and
Robert Rowe, Associate Director of the NYU Music Technology Program.
Advisors to the project, all of whom have made contributions
to the field, are Perry Cook (researcher, Princeton University),
Christopher Dobrian (composer, University of California at Irvine),
William Duckworth (composer, internet artist, Bucknell University),
Nora Farrell (internet artist), Sergi Jorda (researcher, Pompeu
Fabra University, Barcelona), Kevin Larke (researcher, New York
University), Tod Machover (composer, MIT Media Lab), Teresa Marrin
(composer), Garth Paine (composer, University of Western Sydney,
Australia), Joe Paradiso (researcher, MIT Media Lab), Laetitia
Sonami (composer), Laurie Spiegel (composer), Morton Subotnick
(composer, New York University), David Toop (composer, author),
Marcelo Wanderley (researcher, McGill University, Montreal),
and David Wessel (composer, Director of CNMAT, University of
California at Berkeley).
Observers are Marc Battier (researcher, Sorbonne, Paris),
Thomas Beyer (composer, New York University), Michael Century
(media theorist, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Roger Malina
(President, Leonardo), and Kenneth Peacock (Director, Music Technology
Program, New York University).
As a projected timeline subject to revision, we plan for the
first theoretical steps to be taken in the fall of 2004. The
public performances will begin, largely depending upon funding,
in 2004/5 and continue through the spring and into the 2005/6
season. We expect to do an assessment and articulation of results
in the late spring of 2006.
Events in Paris
As part of Resonances 2004, IRCAM's
annual event dedicated to looking at new artistic trends and
research issues, EMF is co-organizer of the 'Sound and Music
Computing' conference, to take place October 20 - 22. Joel Chadabe
will give the opening lecture on the history of interactivity
with computers and present an excerpt from his composition 'Many
Times ...' in a version for flute and Kyma system. Other composers
and researchers associated with EMF, among them Robert Rowe,
Georges Bloch, and David Wessel, will also participate.
On December 15, Joel Chadabe will discuss EMF's history, activities,
and goals at the studios of the Groupe de Recherche Musicales
On December 16 and 17, with Marc Battier and Ramuntcho Matta,
and with support from the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, EMF
will co-present a two-day concert event at Le Palais de Tokyo
The Sound of Laptops
As a demonstration of worldwide
community and the use of music technology to empower individual
creativity, EMF is organizing a worldwide laptop performance
festival to take place between February 4 and June 30, 2005,
in many places in many countries. The opening event, on Friday,
February 4, in New York City, will feature Morton Subotnick premiering
a new composition for laptop computer with lights by Sue Costabile.
We will document this festival in perpetuity in a dedicated
website, preserving audio clips, images, descriptions of the
events, and information on the participants. This festival and
its documentation will recognize worldwide talent and mark for
all time a vital moment in our cultural history.
What we're doing
In the spring of 2005, EMF will produce an event aimed at
fostering awareness of human interaction with the environment.
The event, called Acoustic Ecology, will include: dynamic
installations based on convergent media (visual and sound elements
connected through shared control systems) that demonstrate the
behaviors of systems and/or involve humans in activities; visual
art (photography, painting); sound art (sonification of phenomena,
creative work based on environmental sounds, and documents of
the natural and man-made world); round tables and symposia; and
demonstrations of new energy sources such as fuel cells.
The content of the event will focus on the nature of interactions
between humans and their environments, natural systems, urban
design, and histories of environmental movements.
The concept of the exhibition as a whole is that art, both
visual and sound art, gives us access to understanding life,
and that sound and visual elements must be taken together in
our understandings of our environments. The title of the exhibition
(borrowed from the Acoustic Ecology movement founded in Vancouver
in the 1960s) suggests the exploration of a space in which life
and art become intertwined and inseparable, in which the sounds
of soundscapes, in concert with the images of 'landscapes', bring
us into a closer and more sensitive connection with our world.
Elements of the event
Concerts include music by: Barry Truax, Hildegard Westerkamp
Symposia and round tables include: Acoustic Ecology, Sounds
of Cities ...
Exhibitions include: Photographs by Mark Moffett, ecologist,
prize-winning photographer for National Geographic ...
Installations include: Global Connect, by Joel Chadabe
and Shankar Barua, based on city images, sounds, and stories
from New Delhi and New York; Sonification of Ecological Communities,
by Phoebe Legere and Mark Moffett, based on the turbulent flow
of air through layers of plants; Acoustic World Atlas 2005,
by Thomas Gerwin, an update of Gerwin's original installation
at ZKM (Karlsruhe); Light Readings, by Stephen Vitiello,
using a photoelectric cell to sense different qualities of light
and then using the light to control sound generators; Sound
Map of the Danube, by Annea Lockwood ...
At a planning stage: Water, Space Art, The Last Resort (Sanctuary
in India) ...
To keep in touch with this project as it takes form, check
this site and sign up for the Arts Electric email list.
Who is doing it
Acoustic Ecology is being organized by Electronic Music Foundation
in collaboration with the UNESCO DigiArts Portal. Advisors to
the project are:
Mark Moffett, ecologist, prize-winning National Geographic
photographer, faculty member at University of California at Berkeley;
Andra McCartney, media artist, faculty member in communication
studies, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada;
Thomas Gerwin, soundscape composer, founder and director of
the Interart Projekt, Berlin;
Barry Truax, composer, professor at Simon Fraser University,
Michael Century, media theorist, professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, Troy, New York;
Roger Malina, chairman and president, Leonardo/ISAST, Paris,
Nicolas Collins, composer, editor of Leonardo Music Journal,
faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A historical note
We're borrowing the term 'Acoustic Ecology' from the World
Soundscape Project, founded by R. Murray Schafer in the late
1960s at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. In Schafer's
words: "The soundscape of the world is changing. Modern
man is beginning to inhabit a world with an acoustic environment
radically different from any he has hitherto known ... "
Schafer's idea was that we should understand how we interact,
individually and collectively, with the sounds around us, and
that idea gave rise to the study of sound in the world and a
field that became known as Acoustic Ecology.
Joan La Barbara
An opera in-progress
October 11, 2004 at 8pm
Frederick Loewe Theatre at NYU
35 West 4th Street
Joan La Barbara, composer, vocalist
Kurt Ralske , live video imagery
Kenji Bunch, viola
Neil Dufallo, violin
Steve Gosling, piano
Tim Kiah, bass
Rubin Kodheli, cello
Jesse Mills. violin
Taimur Sullivan, saxophone
La Barbara's newest work explores
the artistic process and the creative mind, focusing on Virginia
Woolf and the fascinating way she wove her ideas. While it may
seem strange to do a wordless opera about one of the great writers
of the 20th century, Woolf's words serve as the basis of inspiration
for La Barbara's musical composition. On October 11 at NYU's
Frederick Loewe Theatre, La Barbara will be joined by video artist
Kurt Ralske and musicians from the ensemble Ne(x)tworks in a
collection of excerpts from WoolfSong, an opera in-progress.
La Barbara writes:
"As I read through Woolf's works, I select phrases that
have particular resonance for me, and then reflect back on these
as I compose. My vision is that the musicians onstage are players
and actors; all are Virginia Woolf and all are characters in
Thanks to ...
Philip Blumberg, Paul Lansky, Jacques Mandelbrojt, Norbert
Lefferts Brown, Thomas Buckner, Joel Chadabe, David Gamper,
With additional support from ...
New York State Council on the Arts, Roland Corporation, Symbolic
Join us: EMF
is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Your contribution may be
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subscription. Please consult your tax advisor.
for more info:
Electronic Music Foundation
116 North Lake Avenue
Albany, New York 12206