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Prostranstvennaja Musica (Spatial Music)

by Bulat Galeyev, Editor
FAN publishers, Kazan, 2004
159 pp., illus. b/w, paper, price N/A
ISBN: 5-9690-001-9.

Partially reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
Hogeschool Gent


Spatial Music: History, Theory, Practice is published in Russian by the Prometheus Research Institute of Experimental Aesthetics in Kazan (Tatarstan). This institute is a joint department of the Kazan State Technological University (KGTU) and Tatarstan Republic Academy of Sciences and promotes the interaction between scientists, and artists in all fields. In their own words, their activities can be brought together under three headings: scientific prognostication in the fields of aesthetics and psychology; developing of the necessary technical equipment; art experiments on the base of this technique.
(http://prometheus.kai.ru/start_e.htm). The Institute thus continues a strong tradition towards the creation of ‘gesamtkunstwerke’ in Russian art, starting with Skriabin, Tatlin and Kandinski and the line of research into new techniques in music of which L. Termen, the inventor of the Teremin, probably is the best known exponent. The Prometheus institute also prides itself on a close collaboration with Leonardo.

The first chapter of the book sketches a brief history of spatial music——or rather of all kinds of musical practices that take spatial distribution of the sound source as an integral part of its architecture. As such, the complex polyphonic music of the ‘Fiaminghi’, Flemish composers who wrote music for four and more choirs for the San Marco in Venice is an early predecessor, and it proves that spatial aspects have always interested musicians. With the gradual shift from polyphony to the homophonic orchestra and the concert hall practice, this interest waned, but it emerged again in the XXth century in the works of, among many others, Mahler, Satie, Varèse and Ives. Later on, with the advent of electronic music and electronic equipment, new experiments became possible. Edgar Varèse’s music for the Phillips pavillion at the EXPO in Brussels in 1958 remains a landmark.

The second chapter analyses the physical and psychological aspects of spatial music, setting the stage for the lengthy exposition of the aesthetic and technical principles that underlie the spatial music installation built by the Prometheus Institute. The third and last chapter describes in great detail the software and hardware of this light-music system.

The book contains a very short summary in English.



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