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Between Air and Electricity: Microphones and Loudspeakers as Musical Instruments

Author
Cathy van Eck
Publisher / Label
Bloomsbury Publishing
Country
UK
Language
English
Publication year
2017
Type of publication
Book
Number of pages
198
ISBN
9781501327605

Index

Contents

List of Figures viii
List of Schemes xi
Acknowledgements xv

Introduction 1

1 Beyond the curtain: the "true nature" of microphones and loudspeakers 9
An empty stage: listening according to the Konzertreform 9
A concert at home: the invention of sound reproduction technologies 11
Storage of air pressure waves 12
Transportation of air pressure waves 13
Amplification of air pressure waves 13
Between air and electricity 15
A standard, almost perfect amplifier and loudspeaker 16
Microphones and loudspeakers: the musical instruments of our age? 18
The "true nature" of microphones and loudspeakers 19

2 reproducing – supporting – generating – interacting: four approaches towards microphones and loudspeakers 25
Made for music: concepts on musical instruments 25
Violins, mixing desks and spoons 28
Piano lessons or a phonograph: how sound reproduction technologies entered the living room 29
The instrumental phonograph and the reproducing radio 32
Semantic acts of sound creation 34
Hearing voices through the noise: completely satisfactory recordings in 1902 35
Electricity, bodies and diaphragms 36
Reproducing: one sound system for all music 38
Supporting: the same sound but louder 38
Transparent technology 41
The record as a copy of the concert and the concert as a copy of the record 43
Generating: music without musical instruments 45
Interacting: resonance and resistance 49

3 The sound of microphones and loudspeakers 55
Acoustic feedback: an electro-mechanical oscillator 55
The tuning fork: an early sine wave generator 59
Transforming sound into a researchable object 61
Hermann von Helmholtz: tuning fork experiments 62
Hermann von Helmholtz: tuning forks reproduce human vowels 64
The tympanic principle and the tuning fork principle 66
Alexander Bell: metal rods reproduce sound 68
Alexander Bell: metal plates reproduce sound 70
Richard Eisenmann: an electric piano with tuning forks 72
George Dieckmann: a piano string oscillator 74
Bechstein-Siemens-Nernst-piano: piano, radio and gramophone through the same loudspeaker 76

4 movement, material and space: interacting with microphones and loudspeakers 83
Acoustic feedback: from mistake to music 83
MOVEMENT 84
Quintet by Hugh Davies: changing the distance between microphone and loudspeaker 84
Pendulum Music by Steve Reich: introducing silence 88
Bird and Person Dyning by Alvin Lucier: listening as a performative act 91
Green Piece by Anne Wellmer: interacting with another sound source 93
Mikrophonie I by Karlheinz Stockhausen: amplification only 94
Speaker Swinging by Gordon Monahan and Three Short Stories and an Apotheosis by Annea Lockwood: moving loudspeakers 99
MATERIAL 104
coffee making by Valerian Maly and 0'00'' by John Cage: everyday actions amplified 105
Inside Piano by Andrea Neumann: musical instruments and contact microphones 108
Apple Box Double by Pauline Oliveros and Shozyg by Hugh Davies: new instruments through amplification 110
Nodalings by Nicolas Collins: acoustic feedback through objects 113
Rainforest by David Tudor: every loudspeaker a different voice 115
Aptium by Lynn Pook, and Merzbow: the audible becomes feelable 119
SPACE 122
Music for piano with amplified sonorous vessels by Alvin Lucier: interaction between microphones and small spaces 122
Loudspeakers in brass instruments and focused loudspeakers: interaction between loudspeakers and small spaces 124
…..sofferte onde serene… and Guai ai gelidi mostri by Luigi Nono: interaction between loudspeakers and performance space 127
Acousmonium by François Bayle: loudspeaker orchestras 131
Performances by Eliane Radigue and Der tönende See by Kirsten Reese: sound unified in space and dispersed in space 134
Audible EcoSystemics by Agostino Di Scipio: closing the acoustic feedback loop again 138

5 Composing with microphones and loudspeakers 145
Beyond musical instruments: a hybrid of approaches 145
The Edison tone tests: no difference 147
Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever) by Alvin Lucier: a piano in a teapot 149
Windy Gong by Ute Wassermann: singing through the gong 153
snare drum pieces by Wolfgang Heiniger: invisible beating 155
tubes by Paul Craenen: musicians, dancers and technicians 159
Open Air Bach by Lara Stanic: speeding up a sonata 163
Resistances and resonances of microphones and loudspeakers 166
The future of microphones and loudspeakers: between air and electricity 167

Appendix Biographies 171
Bibliography 177
Index 189