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R&D Centre For Electronic Music

We're reprinting here a press-release in it's entirety, because it's so full of information that it would be silly to rewrite it. We wholeheartedly support such developments as this — they are bound to have productive results. — Ed.

AMBITIOUS plans are being made to establish a British centre for electro-acoustic music in London, if proposals to form a British Electro-Acoustic Music Association go ahead.

Experts representing twenty-one British electronic and computer music laboratories met Arts Council officials recently to agree proposals for the formation of a national association in the near future. The Association will aim to rationalise the work of hitherto isolated EA music laboratories and create an integrated network of specialist research with improved internal communications and business and public relations. The Centre, to be located in London, will act as national headquarters for the Association and shop window for its wide-ranging activities.

Electronic music was thirty years old in April, and research into computer music has been active nearly as long. From comparatively obscure beginnings in radio and university backrooms has emerged much of the experience on which today's synthesiser and audio effects industries are based.

Anton Webern: compositions paved the way for synthesisers

Avant-garde music has always led the way in technical innovation, defining needs and creating prototypes of new musical experiences which have given rise to the commercial development of new markets and products. Composers were predicting multi-track studio tape recording back in the 1920s. Quintaphonic sound was realised by Stockhausen in 1956. The first synthesisers were designed to musical specifications laid down in the compositions of Anton Webern and Pierre Boulez. Today's avant-garde composer is still twenty years ahead of the industry in charting the evolution of musical taste and audio technology.

This gap can be shortened, given closer co-operation between research and industry, which will be one of the Association's primary aims. The Centre will offer specialist advice to industry on the latest developments in systems design and presentation, as well as introducing new forms of audiovisual entertainment to the public. Provisional specifications are for the Centre to incorporate a sound theatre, studio and equipment testing laboratory, workshop, reference library and information service, specialist book and record shop, restaurant and exhibition facilities including an international conference centre.

Such an ambitious undertaking can only succeed with the help and backing of the British pop music industry. Thanks to investment from The Who, British laser technology is now leading the world, and the same can also be done in the field of electroacoustics. 1978 sees the industry at a point of imminent expansion in computer-assisted audio. The development of cheap integrated circuitry puts computer music within the reach of the private individual. Commercial studios are increasingly adapting to digital systems of recording and reprocessing sound. Digitised records, replacing today's disc and tape, are already in the process of development, bringing promise of a new era of noise-free and distortionless domestic audio. These developments will be greatly stimulated and enhanced by experienced advice on creative applications, and this advice the Centre, with its experience, will be uniquely able to give.

Further information: Simon Emmerson, Centre for Arts (Music), (Contact Details) or: Robin Maconie, Information, Centre for Electro-Acoustic Music Project, (Contact Details)

More Spies In The Skies

AS if the proliferation of nasty little machines on Earth designed to look closely into all aspects of our private lives wasn't enough; not to mention spy-satellites of the military variety which are reputed to be able to tell which newspaper you're reading, even in total darkness (?!) — a stupendous achievement in tactical reconnaissance; as if we actually wanted any more of the damn things, General Electric in the States have come up with a new technological miracle: a geostationary repeater satellite for narks. Oh — yes, never ones to miss a chance, GE have produced and tested this remarkable system specially to excite the interest — and presumably the budgets — of the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Apparently the Mexico/US border is so mountainous that narks and their mates often lose contact with their base-stations, and rather than splatter the landscape with thousands of repeaters, they'd prefer a couple of cheap little satellites fitted with sophisticated transponding equipment.

Recent tests have indicated that the system will work effectively from any location that isn't in a deep canyon, tunnel, or concrete jungle... assuming you can run a 250W transmitter from your car (the problem here being loss of battery power and red-hot metalwork, but that's their problem). They've checked out this brilliant money-wasting over-sophisticated system with voice, test-tones, slow-scan TV, and data from 'people-detecting sensors' in both Washington DC and the Arizona/California border area.

The system is also capable of pinpointing an agent's vehicle to within a few yards: this facility is obviously very useful, although I think, personally, I'd prefer to ask them over the air rather than tie up two satellites, and half-a-dozen groundstations in Ireland, Argentina, Iceland, Australia and the US. All these groundstations are required to exactly pinpoint the two satellites so a computer complex can work out where your agent actually is. Then you can tell him, and he can tell you how accurate your guess was. A fine game. Except that, of course, apart from the fact that the entire system is an example of anti-ecological-technomachine-bureaucratic-overkil, it has a number of even more sinister applications, which I don't have to help you imagine. As if its designed function wasn't suspect enough. Oh, well, nice of them to tell us. Forewarned is forearmed, and Official Secrets are, of course, for sharing.

Montreux Music Encounter

MUSICIANS, engineers, students and teachers are offered an opportunity to learn more about various aspects of playing and recording music today in a four-week session in July at Montreux in Switzerland.

Four music-oriented organisations — the University of Miami School of Music, the Montreux International Music Festival, the Mountain Recording Studio, and NARAS (Institute of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) — have come together to form the Montreux Music Encounter, taking place from 2-30 July. Classes will be headed by various experts in the relevant fields, which MME have split into Jazz, Audio Engineering and Music Business. Many courses are available within the Encounter, ranging from 'Evolution Of Jazz And Pop-Rock' via 'Arranging' and 'Audio Recording Techniques' to 'Film, TV And Radio Commercial Scoring'. A permanent faculty, including such people as composer, arranger and pianist Ron Miller and session man Whit Sidener, will be supplemented by musicians and engineers present at the Montreux Music Festival.

There are two packages available to the interested musician/engineer — package 1 is aimed at the US resident and includes a New York to Zurich round trip airfare, round trip coach fare Zurich-Montreux, tuition for the four weeks of classes, all instructional materials, admission to events during Jazz Week at the Music Festival, Master Classes by 'the masters' performing at the Festival, room and meals in Montreux. Package 2 is designed for Europeans, and includes all the above, minus the New York-Zurich round trip. Now comes the nasty bit - Package 1 costs $1495, Package 2 $995. If you're still interested, contact the Montreux Music Encounter, (Contact Details) quickly, because places are limited and work on a first-come-first-served basis.

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Sound International - Copyright: Link House Publications


Sound International - Jun 1978

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman


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