INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Artpress SEPTEMBER 2001 - by Christophe Kihm
REDEFINING MUSICAL SPACE
There is a whole area of modern (or not so modern) composition in which the particular role assigned to sound - beyond timbre or the purely acoustic dimension - has led to a notion of music as a form of space, as opposed to an art of time. The physical as well as aesthetic displacements and openings effected in the work of Erik Satie and Brian Eno are particularly significant in this respect. The consequences of this vision of music as the interlocking and distribution of spaces depend on the kind of constructions and structures that are chosen. The musical space as such, a sequence and superposition of strata containing the instrumental, harmonic, tonal and rhythmic dimensions, comes into contact with the space where the music is performed or heard (car, airport, walkman, home, warehouse, nightclub, concert hall - the list of public and private spaces now seems unlimited), thus making acoustics and reception particularly important. To these two dimensions we must add a third, the referential aspect of the music itself, drawing on and mixing various cultural and historical registers, different traditions and styles. Environmental music, known variously as "aural furniture," "sonic wallpaper" and "ambient music," begins by emphasising the second of these spatial dimensions, then rethinks the other two. Creating sound environments rather than distinct works and bringing background music to the foreground of its aesthetic concerns, this strand of musical practice developed in parallel with and in opposition to modernism. lt places the emphasis firmly on modern technology and the way in which music is used. Erik Satie and Brian Eno (see interview) are both major figures here. And, given that the techniques for reproducing and playing music, from the phonograph and the radio to hi-fi, are central to this practice, it is not surprising to see DJs now making a contribution to the field (Richie Hawtin, one of the most interesting DJs, is interviewed here toot, which has developed considerably since the advent of the home studio-pioneered, once again, by Brian Eno.