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Performed Electronics: Compositional Paradigms for Reinforcing Human Agency in Electroacoustic Music

  • Author(s): Lough, Alex Joseph
  • Advisor(s): Dobrian, Christopher
  • et al.

While musicians have been performing with electronics for nearly a century, there still exists very little performable repertoire for electronicists. In fact, the notion of the electronicist as a performative role in contemporary classical music is still not necessarily widely accepted. It is still the case that most contemporary electroacoustic repertoire calling for live electronics refers only to the real-time nature of the electronic processes and not human action as it is enacted and perceived in real time. I present a new term in response to this issue which I call performed electronics. This new category of work (for which there are historical examples I adopt into the new terminology) focuses on liveness, performativity, and temporally immersive human agency given to the electronicist. I discuss what these terms mean in the context of performing with electronics, present three compositional paradigms for composing works for performed electronics, and analyze existing works that exemplify these concepts. I argue that these compositional approaches yield more engaging and compelling performances––for both performers and audience members––and that this practice is necessary in trying to promote the electronicist as a legitimate role in contemporary electroacoustic music.

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