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An Australian Electroacoustic Music Concert in Montreal

Curated by Garth Paine

EuCuE Series XVIII at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

(Ed. What follows is the curator's note, written by Garth Paine, which accompanied the pieces listed at the end of this article. These electroacoustic works from Australia were presented in concert at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in Montreal, Quebec Canada, in October 1999.)

Curating this concert was an interesting undertaking. When one issues a call for submissions there is no way of knowing what will ensue. On this occasion the majority of works came from two different tiers of experience; those who have only recently finished university study, and those who completed their undergraduate degrees within the last ten to fifteen years. It was surprising not to receive much input from the older generation, who might be regarded as the more established figures in this genre in Australia.

This pattern of response possibly parallels a quiet decimation of the academic infrastructure for teaching Electroacoustic/Electronic/Acousmatic music within Australia. The principle teaching institutions are either being shut down, Latrobe University Music Department being a primary example, or have had the lectureship associated with this artform discontinued. Little value seems to have been placed on the importance of the aural aesthetic, as the visual sense becomes more and more predominant in our society. Courses taught within universities are becoming more tightly focussed on vocational training with little or no time allocated to experimentation, and with web authors and video editors being regarded as sufficiently skilled in the audio arena to teach the skills required, which are defined purely in technical terms.

I raise this point within this context of a concert on the other side of the world both as a warning, but also as a way of highlighting the extraordinary commitment the composers, whose works you hear in this concert have to the genre. None of these composers work within institutions. They have found ways of resourcing their work (both time and equipment) outside of the usual institution base. In Australia this is becoming the norm.

There are both positive and negative aspects to this developing pattern. On the one hand, working outside the institutions encourages a purely individualistic approach to both process and product. The purpose of creating becomes liberated from any external requirements, and so the composer is at liberty to experiment with "broader brush strokes". The down side of working outside the institutions is the cost of resourcing oneÕs art practice. The individual composer becomes responsible for the purchasing and maintenance of all the equipment required to record source material, edit and manipulate that material, synthesis sounds, compile and master the finished work. Equipment has advanced immeasurably in the last ten years. It is now possible for the electroacoustic composer to have a powerful, high quality system sitting on a desk. Programs like MAX/MSP and Supercollider to mention but a few have, in parallel with substantial leaps in desktop computing power, revolutionised the ability of the independent composer to create and manipulate audio signals in realtime.

The evolution of technologies has created the groundwork for independent composers to create sophisticated electroacoustic works outside of the institutionalised resources. With the current pattern of decimation of the teaching and studio resources within the institutions, we should be very grateful that such technological advances have arrived at this point in history. The result is the work you hear in this concert program. Enjoy!!

The pieces presented in concert were:

Garth Paine Composer, Sound Designer, Installation Artist, Interactives Designer, Exhibition Consultant

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