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Listening through the NoiseThe Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music$
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Joanna Demers

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387650.001.0001

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Material As Sign in Electronica

Material As Sign in Electronica

(p.43) 2 Material As Sign in Electronica
Listening through the Noise

Joanna Demers

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 explores how electronica conceives of sound material as a metaphor. Compared with post-Schaefferian electroacoustic music, electronica spends less time dictating listeners’ responses. Sounds of the outside world, sounds of other works, and sounds newly created all figure in electronica. What matters in electronica is not the origins of sound so much as the metaphors that portray sound as malleable material, the product of construction, reproduction, or destruction. These metaphors often correspond to actual sound-production techniques. Construction is often synonymous with sound synthesis, reproduction with sound sampling, and destruction with the defacement of the phonographic medium. But of course, the most interesting moments in electronica occur when the metaphor describing sound does not correspond with the actual means of producing it. When digital signal processing hides or disguises the provenance of a sound, listeners can hear in an old sound something supposedly new.

Keywords:   construction, destruction, electronica, metaphor, phonograph, reproduction, sampling, signal processing, synthesis

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