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Pythagoras's Curtain

electroacoustic work

Year:  2001   ·  Duration:  12m

Year:  2001
Duration:  12m

John Young

Composer:   John Young


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In electroacoustic music the loudspeaker can be thought of as a 'veil' isolating our experience of sound from other senses. This allows for a heightened appreciation of the aural dimension and creates a new listening context which Pierre Schaeffer called 'acousmatic', after initiates of Pythagoras who received lectures with their master obscured by a curtain. For me the unique strength of acousmatic music lies in its potential to evoke for us 'images' of sound, as imagined reconstructions of sources and scenes, objects and environments as well as its capacity to project hybrid sound-worlds integrating sonic realism and abstract sonority. 'Pythagoras's Curtain' attempts to develop this aspect of the invisible world of electroacoustic music through sounds of intimately tactile origin. Departing from the 'imagery' these sounds might conjure (the hands, their gestures and their influence on sound-making objects) aspects of the structure of these sounds are electroacoustically 're-designed' in ways that seek to obscure source recognition yet also retain a semblance of the motivating gestural energies and physical interactions. Through the emergence of this wider musical context, another Pythagorean veil (of abstraction) forms as a sense of realistic 'cause and effect' becomes increasingly remote. 'Pythagoras's Curtain' was realised in the studios of De Montfort University, Leicester and premiered on April 4th 2001 in the White Concert Hall at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dedication note

To Denis Smalley