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The Concordia Archival Project, 10th Anniversary Special Issue

About this Issue


Lead Articles: Reports on and Around the Collection

Introduction, Background and Objectives of the Concordia Archival Project

On the Concordia Electroacoustic Archive and Collection by Kevin Austin, Custodian of the Collection

The Concordia Collection started out innocently enough as a number of tapes gathered for performances in a concert series. It soon became an important document of the activities and interests of the larger community of electroacoustic composers, performers, artists etc. in Canada and beyond. Today this collection is testimony to the diversity and richness of the history of electroacoustic practices since the 1960s.

CECG/GEC and ÉuCuE: Concert programmes, scores and more

Starting in 1982, and under Kevin Austin’s initiative, a concert series was organized by CECG/GEC (Concordia Electroacoustic Composers’ Group / Group Électroacoustique Concordia), later renamed ÉuCuE (Électroacoustiques université Concordia university Electroacoustics). Out of the diverse activities of CECG/GEC, the Concordia Collection was born…

Technical Report by Dominique Bassal

See Module 3 of the eLearning component of CAP for a technical report on the archiving activities.

Educational Resource: Online eLearning Modules

One of the major components of the Concordia Archival Project, these eLearning modules present the history of electroacoustics in Canada and internationally, technical aspects of electroacoustics from various periods, and the process of restoring and archiving the collection. The modules are ideal for classroom use as well as for self-learning.


A brief presentation and history of the collection, and around archiving electroacoustic works.

Module 1: The Collection within Electroacoustic History

A general chronological history summarizes the evolution of recording techniques and sound production, as well as the æsthetic interests and developments related to electroacoustics. Each period in this “timeline” presents an overview of different kinds of developments that, as a whole, form the foundations of electroacoustic history, as seen through the works in the Concordia collection.

Module 2: Guided Listening Tour of the Collection

A tour of the collection from the perspective of several categories created to highlight specific aspects of the production and composition of the works in the collection. Audio excerpts of works in the collection are used to illustrate these categories.

Module 3: The Archiving Process for the Collection

A technical report on the process and procedures of archiving the works in the collection, presented by Dominique Bassal (Mastering Engineer and Technical Partner for the project) as a series of short videos.

Pedagogical Activities

A few short review exercises to make sure your visit of the collection has been enriching and profitable.

Archiving and Preservation

Don’t Destroy The Archives! by Michael Gerzon

There is information in analogue tape formats that cannot be recovered with present-day technology but that could be recovered with improved future technologies. By destroying original recordings, the possibility of taking advantage of such future improvements is permanently lost. With a new foreword by Rob Poretti.

The Archiving of Obsessed Again… by Keith Hamel by Scott Amort, Keith Hamel, Jesse Read, John Roeder and David Litke (InterPARES)

An International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems final report on the digital archiving of a piece for bassoon and live electronics by Keith Hamel. Discussion of the methodology of the procedures and a few notes on policies to assure “authenticity” give an idea of the complexity of archiving electroacoustic works.

There is No Future Until We Get to It by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz

An essay based on a discussion thread on the CEC discussion listserv concerning the future of recording formats and the long-term viability of storage formats, including a list of ideas and suggestions for preserving electroacoustic works for the future’s past.

Documentation and Publication of Electroacoustic Compositions at NEAR by Hannah Bosma

“Documentation of electroacoustic music involves ontological questions about the definition of the electroacoustic work, the difference between composition, improvisation, interpretation and performance, the demarcation and intertwining of music and other disciplines, and the articulation and symbolisation of semi-unconscious electroacoustic musical features.”

The Michael Gerzon Archive and the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings Project by Paul Wilson and Adam Tovell

Because of the complex and sometimes unconventional way in which Michael Gerzon approached recording, the enormous size of the collection and the variety of formats represented, and the inherent problems of the different media/formats, the British Library Sound Archive has been faced with a number of problems in digitising and archiving this collection, and in presenting it for public access.

Interviews (Audio)

Several interviews were done with key figures in Canadian electroacoustics to provide primary resources for the authors writing the eLearning Module content. The interviews document the situation of electroacoustics in Canada through the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, a time of great change in the interests and practices of electroacoustic artists as well as in the availability of technologies and equipment. It is also during this time that the Concordia collection is started and that the CEC is founded. An important period in Canadian electroacoustic history.

Kevin Austin interviewed by Mario Gauthier

Compositeur et responsable du département de composition électroacoustique de l’Université Concordia. Fondateur de la CEC et instigateur de la collection de Concordia, fondateur du groupe MetaMusic.

Yves Daoust en entrevue avec Hélène Prévost

Compositeur, professeur, diffuseur. Fondateur de l’ACREQ, professeur au Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, pratique importante de musiques mixtes. L’entrevue porte sur sa pratique, le processus de création, la partition, les décisions préalables, l’environnement dans les années 1980–90, les mentalités.

Jean-François Denis en entrevue avec Hélène Prévost

Compositeur, producteur, diffuseur. Crée la base de données à Concordia à la suite du travail de Kevin Austin. Cofondateur de la CEC, il fonde empreintes DIGITALes et participe à tous les développements relatifs à la CEC, en lien direct avec Concordia. Il parle du contexte historique des années 1980, publications, concerts, diffusion, technologie.

Charles de Mestral (Sonde) by Mario Gauthier

Improvisateur, membre du groupe Sonde, pionnier dans le domaine de l’improvisation en électroacoustique. Il parle des motivations de l’improvisation, de son apparition en électroacoustique, et de ce qu’elle permet, etc.

alcides lanza interviewed by Mario Gauthier

Compositeur et professeur émérite à l’Université McGill. Il figure parmi les pionniers de l’électroacoustique au Canada. Un des rares à avoir étudié aux États-Unis et dont les influences musicales ne sont pas exclusivement européennes. L’entrevue aborde certains aspects historiques importants, la pratique des années 60, des réflexions sur l’avenir de l’électroacoustique, sa méthode de travail, l’écoute d’une pièce électroacoustique, etc.

Robert Normandeau en entrevue avec Hélène Prévost

Compositeur, diffuseur, producteur, professeur. Cofondateur de Réseaux, École acousmatique, « Cinéma pour l’oreille », professeur à l’Université de Montréal et chercheur, il compose notamment pour le théâtre. L’entrevue aborde des questions reliées à la technologie, la diffusion en direct, etc.

Jean Piché interviewed by Mario Gauthier

Compositeur de « vidéomusique », professeur à l’Université de Montréal, spécialiste de la programmation. Il est un des rares créateurs de « vidéomusique », une pratique où vidéo et musique forment un tout. Il parle de ses motivations relatives à la vidéomusique, de sa méthode de travail et des raisons pour lesquelles il ne croit pas en la formule traditionnelle du concert acousmatique.

Claude Schryer en entrevue avec Hélène Prévost

Compositeur, diffuseur, producteur, écologie sonore. Cofondateur du GEMS, d’empreintes DIGITALes etdu WFAE, il a été très actif à l’ACREQ dont il a été président, a dirigé le 7e printemps électroacoustique et le World Soundscape Project. Il a établi des liens entre les communautés francophones et anglophones à travers le Canada.

Alain Thibault en entrevue avec Hélène Prévost

Compositeur, diffuseur, producteur. Fondateur et directeur artistique du festival Elektra, il a composé des œuvres multimédias, pour la vidéo et pour la danse. Il parle de la technologie et des premières présentations multimédias.

Other Collections and Archival Projects

Information about the holdings, activities and accessibility of a number of collections and archival projects in Canada and abroad are provided as a series of brief question-answer surveys.

Concordia Archival Project (CAP) (Concordia University Music Department, Montréal) by jef chippewa and Yves Gigon

Concordia’s studios were opened in 1970 and built over the years mainly through the contributions and hard work of Kevin Austin, who would start and maintain the collection via the activities of CECG/GEC. The Concordia Collection today numbers over 3000 works (and growing!) and was the subject of a major recovery and archival project in 2007–08.

EMS Archival Project (McGill University — Schulich School of Music, Montréal) by alcides lanza

This project aims to digitize, preserve and reformat instrumental and electronic works in the McGill EMS collection and make them accessible on the Internet. The collection reflects the changes in technologies over the years, from Hugh Le Caine instruments to early digital synthesizers to an all-digital studio.

Latin American Electroacoustic Music Collection (Daniel Langlois Foundation, Montréal) by Ricardo Dal Farra

Between 2003 and 2005, Dal Farra was Researcher-in-Residence at the Daniel Langlois Foundation transferring and documenting over 1700 works by almost 400 Latin American composers. Over 200 works are available online via the Langlois website.

University of Toronto Archive / Collection (Toronto) by Dennis Patrick

Canada’s first electronic music studio opened at the University of Toronto in 1959. The collection grew over the next couple of decades thanks to the contributions of composers who passed through the studios.

Center for Contemporary Music Archive (Mills College) by Maggi Payne

This collection contains tapes of concerts, interviews, and events recorded at Mills College and other venues in the San Francisco Bay area from the 1950s to the present.

Documentation and Publication of Electroacoustic Compositions at NEAR by Hannah Bosma

See “Archiving and Preservation” above for description.

The Michael Gerzon Archive and the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings Project by Paul Wilson and Adam Tovell

See “Archiving and Preservation” above for description.

Electroacoustic Activities in Canada

CECG/GEC and ÉuCuE: Concert programmes, scores and more

See “Lead Articles: Reports on and Around the Collection” above for description.

CEE — Canadian Electronic Ensemble

Basic but complete documentation of the group’s concert presentations from 1971–2004, with a few entries up to 2006 [PDF].

Reviews, Previews and New Releases

[REPORT] Je me souviens (Montréal, 23–24 April and 22–23 May 2008) by Tim Sutton

[SONUS Curated Playlist] Guided Listening Tour of the Collection by Dominique Bassal

The second of three eLearning modules forms a very specialized Curated Playlist. A number of works in the collection that have been digitized are used as the basis for a commented discussion of techniques and historical developments of electroacoustics through the 1970s–80s.

Concordia University / Université Concordia

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