We live in an electronic world, saturated with electronic sounds. Yet, electronic sounds aren’t a new phenomenon; they have long permeated our sonic landscape. What began as the otherworldly sounds of the film score for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet and the rarefied, new timbres of Stockhausen’s Kontakte a few years later, is now a common soundscape in technology, media, and an array of musical genres and subgenres. More people than ever before can produce and listen to electronic music, from isolated experimenters, classical and jazz musicians, to rock musicians, sound recordists, and the newer generations of electronic musicians making hip-hop, house, techno, and ambient music. Increasingly we are listening to electronic sounds, finding new meanings in them, experimenting with them, and rehearing them as listeners and makers.
Live Wires explores how five key electronic technologies—the tape recorder, circuit, computer, microphone, and turntable—revolutionized musical thought. Featuring the work of major figures in electronic music—including everyone from Schaeffer, Varèse, Xenakis, Babbitt, and Oliveros to Eno, Keith Emerson, Grandmaster Flash, Juan Atkins, and Holly Herndon—Live Wires is an arresting discussion of the powerful musical ideas that are being recycled, rethought, and remixed by the most interesting electronic composers and musicians today.
Pink Noises brings together twenty-four interviews with women in electronic music and sound cultures, including club and radio DJs, remixers, composers, improvisers, instrument builders, and installation and performance artists. The collection is an extension of Pinknoises.com, the critically-acclaimed website founded by musician and scholar Tara Rodgers in 2000 to promote women in electronic music and make information about music production more accessible to women and girls. That site featured interviews that Rodgers conducted with women artists, exploring their personal histories, their creative methods, and the roles of gender in their work. This book offers new and lengthier interviews, a critical introduction, and resources for further research and technological engagement.
Contemporary electronic music practices are illuminated through the stories of women artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds. They include the creators of ambient soundscapes, “performance novels,” sound sculptures, and custom software, as well as the developer of the Deep Listening philosophy and the founders of the Liquid Sound Lounge radio show and the monthly Basement Bhangra parties in New York. These and many other artists open up about topics such as their conflicted relationships to formal music training and mainstream media representations of women in electronic music. They discuss using sound to work creatively with structures of time and space, and voice and language; challenge distinctions of nature and culture; question norms of technological practice; and balance their needs for productive solitude with collaboration and community. Whether designing and building modular synthesizers with analog circuits or performing with a wearable apparatus that translates muscle movements into electronic sound, these artists expand notions of who and what counts in matters of invention, production, and noisemaking. Pink Noises is a powerful testimony to the presence and vitality of women in electronic music cultures, and to the relevance of sound to feminist concerns.