The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a pivotal shift from the industrial production of sound recording tools to the rise of new audio digital devices. This period therefore offers a wealth of opportunities for studying how technical inventions cause radical changes in creative practice. In this talk, I propose to reappraise several key moments and topics in the historiography of electroacoustic music from the new perspective through concepts developed in the field of mediology. According to Régis Debray, mediology can be defined as the study of the material mediations through the evolution of communication systems and the technologically transmitted interventions.
I use three core concepts of mediology to reconsider key moments and topics in the historiography of electroacoustic music. First, I apply Gilbert Simondon’s “process of concretization,” in which technology always moves towards its essence, to the divergent uses of tape recorder technology by composers, sound engineers, and sound designers. From Pierre Schaeffer’s closed grove and its corollaries, sprang reductive listening, a new form of music, and a new archetype for composing with loops, and later, samples. I suggest this brings to light a predetermined creative process that reduces the composer’s freedom. Second, I consider how “electronic writings” as theorized by Julien Auroux and Fabien Lévy grammatize streaming sound in the mixing and editing techniques native to the operation of the electroacoustic studio. This leads to a new way to listen to our daily acoustic environment. Finally, I warn that deterministic views should be qualified with more refined analyses of the specific and distinctly local constraints of historically situated tools. As an example, I consider the status of analog recording as a technology which continues to develop, the initial consequences of which only became apparent in the 1980s.
Vincent Tiffon is a professor of musicology at the University of Lille (France), researcher in the CEAC research center, and co-director of the EDESAC research team. He is also an associated researcher at IRCAM in Paris (France). Tiffon’s research addresses the history, analysis, and aesthetics of electroacoustic and mixed musics and takes special interest in analyzing the creative process in music and musical mediology. His work has been published in journals including Acoustic Arts & Artifacts/Technology, Aesthetics, Communication, Analyse musicale, Les Cahiers du Cirem, Les Cahiers de Médiologie, Contemporary Music Review, DEMéter, Filigrane, LIEN, Medium, Médiation et communication, Musurgia, NUNC, Revue de musicologie, SMC (Sound and Music Computing), and Circuit.
The Pauline Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore represents one of the more complex and significant ecclesiastical buildings in Counter-Reformation Rome. It was conceived as relic venue and built to underline and reassert Catholic doctrine in response to the reforming zeal of Protestantism The most important painting preserved in this Chapel is the Virgin of Saint Luke. According to tradition, it has legendary origins: drafted by the apostle Luke and completed by the angels. With the bull Immensae bonitas (1615) Pope Paul V asserted his belief in the Virgin’s strength as the merciful intercessor before Christ, an advocate for Christian souls, and an essential vehicle for salvation: all of these concepts are expressed in the text of the antiphon Salve Regina. The statutes of this Chapel were approved in 1615: The “Salve” services were committed to twelve musicians: ten singers, one organist and the chapel master. They sang litanies, antiphons, and the Compline for two choirs every Saturday night, at all feasts, and on the eves of Marian feasts. The earlier “Salve” music that has been preserved is that composed by Alessandro Melani (1639–1703), appointed director of the “Salve” from 1667 until his death. The music repertoire was written for two choirs and sung with one voice assigned to each part. The rhetorical scheme of the texts and their musical setting follows the ideological program of the bull issued by Pope Paul V. This music offers a systematic repertoire by a single composer for the most important Marian chapel of the Roman Counter-Reformation. The aim of this lecture is to underline the connections between Melani’s music and that religious and cultural context. I am convinced that this perspective of study, based on the intersection between visual art, architecture, liturgy, and music, represents an important way for achieve a broader knowledge of this complex cultural and religious message in Counter-Reformation Rome.
Luca Della Libera (b. 1961 in Milan) completed his music studies in Rome, Italy, where he graduated with a degree in in flute performance at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia and in History of Music at the University La Sapienza, with Professor Pierluigi Petrobelli. Since 1998, Della Libera has been a tenured professor of History of Music at the Conservatory of Frosinone. From 1988 to 1991, he collaborated with IBIMUS (Istituto di Bibliografia Musicale) in the cataloguing of musical manuscripts in several Roman archives, such as Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, and Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e contemporanea. His main field of research is music in Rome during the Baroque era, particularly sacred music, musical institutions, and archival studies. Della Libera has published articles in Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana, Rivista italiana di musicologia, Recercare, Studi musicali, Acta Musicologica, and Analecta Musicologica. He published three volumes of critical editions of the sacred music of Alessandro Scarlatti for A-R Editions, and in 2014 a critical edition of the oratorio La Santissima Annunziata of Alessandro Scarlatti for the Istituto Italiano per la Storia della Musica. He also published several biographies for Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani and Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.
Della Libera collaborates for recording and performing projects with some of the most esteemed Italian performers in Baroque music: Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano, Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, the violinist Enrico Gatti, and Paolo Da Col with the ensemble Odhecaton. In 2012 and 2013, he held workshops and seminars at the Conservatory of Frosinone and Musikhoschule Bremen in collaboration with the soprano Gemma Bertagnolli on the sacred music of Alessandro Scarlatti. In February 2015, he was invited by the Birmingham Conservatory for an ‘Erasmus’ teaching exchange.
Since 1997, Della Libera has been a musical critic for Il Messaggero, the most prominent newspaper in Rome. He received his PhD in musicology from the Università di Roma Tor Vergata in ‘co-tutelle’ with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. His dissertation, “La musica sacra romana di Alessandro Scarlatti: testi, contesti, documents,” was given the distinction Magna cum laude. In February 2013, he was invited to give papers and lectures at Princeton University and Harvard University. He collaborates also with several Italian music institutions: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Accademia Chigiana (Siena), Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Festival delle Nazioni, and Centro della Pietà dei Turchini di Napoli.