The Liberation of Sound, Art-Science and the Digital Domain: Contacts With Edgard Varèse

Jean-Claude Risset
2004 Contemporary Music Review  
Varèse insisted that the same poetic impulse could move the composer and the scientist, and he strongly advocated the synergy between art and science, the only way to provide music with new means of expression and 'to infuse it with youthful sap', as he wrote in 1917 (in an article in Picabia's 391 magazine). Music has been at the forefront of many advances in the field of science and technology-including the implementation of new uses of the computer. In this article, I first recall historical
more » ... instances where music was an influential inspiration for the developments of science and technology, rather than a mere field of application. Varèse coined the expression 'organised sound'; he pioneered the extension of compositional activity to the elaboration of sound-composing the sounds themselves, rather than merely composing with sounds. I relate this trend to the context of 20th-century music. Then I give some recollections of my meetings and discussions with Varèse, hoping that this mixture of anecdotal and musical comments may be of some interest (I have tried to quote the words of Varèse as faithfully as I could). After the evocation of two evenings in tribute to Varèse and his living ideas, I conclude with reflections on art-science and music research, activities called for by Varèse, in the context of present day society.
doi:10.1080/0749446042000204545 fatcat:yngcvevkpnh6xkyohugdkrzlxq