(R)evolving the patch: On regaining musicianship in electroacoustic music




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This thesis is about musicianship in electroinstrumental music and about evolving patches to allow for the expression of said musicianship. It aims to illuminate the experience and develop the role of the instrumental musician in the making of electroacoustic music. These perspectives, derived from practice, may help composers to develop a performative understanding of the patch and performers to musically engage with the patch. After more than five decades of instrumental performance with live electronics, performance practices remain idiosyncratic, and issues of skill prevail. Unlike classical performance practices, which are purposefully transmitted, electroinstrumental performance practices are not normally passed on. Accounts of performer-researchers, investigating their own electroinstrumental practices, are largely focused on methods of embedding the technology into their practice. Impeded by technical issues, electroinstrumental practices have been slow to develop craft. Many electroinstrumental practices are improvisational practices, in which the patch is viewed as an instrument designed by the performer. In composed music practices, the patch is viewed as part of the composition designed by the composer or engineer. Proposing the patch be viewed as both composition and performance, I argue that the performer needs to relate to the patch to develop their craft. Postulating that craft has been slow to develop because a classical model of musicianship cannot absorb the patch, this thesis offers an approach to musicianship embracing the patch. It elaborates elements of performance and interpretation in relation to the patch. Relating experiences in practice, I develop an understanding of the patch’s affordances and offer methods of analysing and expressing the patch. Elaborating the relation between the patch’s composition and its performance, I argue the composerperformer collaboration in relation to the patch be reconsidered. I illustrate ways of music-making evolving the patch, enabling the development of craft and regaining of musicianship.





Research Institute