Royal College of Music in Stockholm 11-15 June 2012
Schedule, abstracts and more about the conference - EMS 12
Conference Theme: Meaning and Meaningfulness in Electroacoustic Music
Keynote Address: Lars-Gunnar Bodin
Meaning is essential to all human activity and the arts are special bearers of meaning relevant to all cultural communication. Whereas the term meaning suggests something that can be investigated and defined, meaningfulness introduces a quality of significance that seems at once more approachable, malleable and personal.
Meaning in music encompasses a vast area of inquiry, approachable from a multitude of intersecting avenues and, in electroacoustic music, the subject is distinguished by several unique features. Is meaning in music immanent within its structural and formal design? Is it emotional? Is it aesthetically embedded? Is it constructed by listeners both individually and collectively? Is its significance embodied?
Semiotic approaches and studies of intention-reception highlight the interdependence of composers and listeners. Meaning may be considered as an exchange and becomes less a kind of objective quantity and more a process related to qualitative meaningfulness. Composers, on the creative side of the communication chain, often focus on the job at hand; subjective and aesthetic intentions intermingle with both compositional and technical concerns. For electroacoustic music, as a sound-based art, listening is a primary mode of action and often the sole means of reception. Listeners focus initially on experiencing, on making sense of and on understanding the sounds and their relationships. These may be musical or other types of extrinsic, referential sounds.
In all of its guises, electroacoustic music is, moreover, dependent upon a technical medium. Are the diverse technical media, which are employed for electroacoustic music, meaning-neutral, or do they condition – from the perspectives of the composers, performers or listeners – the meaning(s) of the music? What are the differences between delivery via large arrays of loudspeakers, iPod earplugs, internet, installations or live performance. Is the medium a message or a massage?
Electroacoustic music also integrates well with other art forms, in particular those that utilize digital media or are digitally mediated. How does the intermedial environment affect meaning in music and across media?