The Pariahs of Sound: On the Post-Duchampian Aesthetics of Electro-acoustic Improv

Ashline, William H.


Contemporary Music Review 22(4): 23-33.

Language: English

In this article, the author presents a critical argument concerning celebrated tabletop guitarist Keith Rowe's provocative alignment of new electroacoustic improvised music with the aesthetics of Duchamp, rather than its musical forbears in electroacoustic music or improvised music in general. The author asserts that Rowe's reading of Duchamp in the context of improvised electroacoustic music is too partial, that it focuses on Duchamp in terms of one who widened the parameters of what might be used to produce an artistic object rather than the critique of art itself that he supplied. The author argues that the innovation of electroacoustic music lies in its privileging of "glitch" aesthetics, the "pariahs of sound", sonic attributes that have been historically purged from musical language but that have in some circles of contemporary musical culture been greeted with aural toleration and acceptance.