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Number 4, May 2003
Advanced Research in
in the Digital Arts
By Simon Waters
The fourth volume of ARiADAtexts breaks with the pattern established
in the previous three whereby an accumulation of different texts
- literal, sonic, visual or programme code - form synchronic slices
through a variety of research practices, to present instead a
monograph - a text which formed a substantial part of a successful
submission for the degree of Master of Music by Research at UEA.
John Bowers’ text is important because it brings a convincing
methodology for critical engagement with one’s own practice
to the fore - that of ethnographic study.
As an academic computer
scientist and sociologist as well as a practising musician, Bowers
marshalls a formidable array of supporting literature. From a
position in which electroacoustic music is regarded indigenously
as a ‘machine music’ he formulates an aesthetic for
improvised electroacoustic music which draws on “the variable
relations people can have to technologies and each other in a
The design of five applications
which have been used in performance by the author is discussed
in detail, and their usefulness in pursuing the aesthetic goals
outlined is assessed. That this discussion is framed in the broader
context of a considered refusal of theoretical oppositions between
composition and improvisation, and of a survey of various types
of music in which the notion of ‘improvisation’, treated
as a member category, is examined in terms of its significance
to those who use it, gives the essay a breadth of scope which
warrants its reproduction here in full.
John Bowers' "Improvising
Machines" is available in three formats:
(may require free Adobe Acrobat Reader, available from www.acrobat.com)
2. HTML - go to www.ariada.uea.ac.uk/ariadatexts/ariada4/html
3. Plain Text - download
bowers.zip. This file contains a unicode
text version of the paper and a README file
There are three audio
files accompanying the text which may be downloaded as MP3s:
Dial, Touched (23:18) MP3, 21.3MB
Live improvised mix by John Bowers, from Sonic Arts Network's
"Diffusion" show, broadcast on Resonance FM, June 2002,
London UK. Four excerpts from the show are joined with three bridging
(13:27) MP3, 12.2MB
Improvisation for amplified saxophone and electronics, by John
Bowers and Graham Halliwell.
(9:24) MP3, 8.6MB
Electro-acoustic improvisation by The Zapruda Trio - John Bowers,
Sten-Olof Hellström and Simon Vincent
files are also available as a continuous QuickTime audio stream.
In your MP3 player, enter this streaming URL:
Streaming audio requires
QuickTime, a free download from Apple:
Martin Dixon is a lecturer
in the Department of Music and a member of the Centre for Music
Technology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
Simon Emmerson is Reader
in Music and Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios at
City University, London UK, and composer and writer on electroacoustic
Neal Farwell is a composer
of acoustic and electroacoustic music, and Lecturer in Music at
the University of Bristol, UK.
Jonathan Impett works
with new technology and instruments in live performance, and is
Lecturer in Music at the University of East Anglia, UK.
Adrian Moore is a composer
of electroacoustic music, and Lecturer in Music at the University
of Sheffield, UK.
Matt Rogalsky works with
various media in live performance and installations, and is a
Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, UK.
Pete Stollery is a teacher
and composer based in North-East Scotland.
Simon Waters is a composer
and Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studio at the University
of East Anglia, UK.
We welcome papers, sounds, music, videos, software (e.g. MAX/MSP,
PD, SuperCollider), ideas, manifestos, propaganda...
Please email contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
or send by post
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