Towards Effective Preservation of Electroacoustic Music




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TU Dresden



Peer reviewed



Electroacoustic music is inherently transdisciplinary. Crafted in varied environments, in many different styles, using a plethora of techniques, electroacoustic music works present a challenge for the composer, listener and music analyst alike. In part, this is due to the evolution of our technological environment over the past 70 years: analogue has been supplanted by digital, systems have come and gone, medias have deteriorated and increasing ease of communication meant increased awareness and sharing of cultural, technological and musical practices. The abundance of approaches made possible by those factors, and the global availability of relatively cheap digital systems, led to the multiplication of electroacoustic composition workshops away from recognised creation centres, and, consequently, to the dispersion of many electroacoustic compositions. Previous initiatives have demonstrated the difficulty in locating and safekeeping important and pioneering electroacoustic works (IDEAMA 1996) and, since then, the complexities of this task have only grown exponentially. Current initiatives are mostly bound by institutional limitations and greatly depend on the goodwill and time of individuals. In such a context, how to enact effective preservation of electroacoustic music? Several strategies have already been explored, from simple media preservation (which consists of ensuring the storage of the finished composition through media copies), all the way up to reconstruction (which requires access to a sufficient number of sources as well as specialist knowledge). It is clear that, being artefacts of technologies, being able to preserve the plasticity of electroacoustic music is a significant advantage, as it ensures long-term adaptation (and enjoyment) to ever-evolving diffusion norms, protocols and systems. Significant challenges lie ahead to establish the to ensure effective preservation of electroacoustic music. Notably, we have to: a) establish an extensive catalogue of candidate works for preservation; b) classify compositions depending on the information and data available; c) determine the best preservation model; d) actually preserve the composition. We argue that, even though all these steps require a breadth of varied specialist knowledge, musicological and analytical considerations must drive the whole process, so as not to lose the cultural perspective.



electroacoustic music, computer music, musicology, archives


Dahan, K. (2020) Towards Effective Preservation of Electroacoustic Music. Archiving and Re-Performing Electro-acoustic Music Symposium 2020


Research Institute

Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)