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Course structure

An overview of the structure of the course

Electronic music is a huge and ever-changing area of music, and we can’t possibly cover every aspect in a four-week course. Instead, in this course we’re going to look at a very specific period of electronic music history in the twentieth century, from around 1948 until around 1970. In this time we will be looking at the broader contexts as well as individual experiences, of electronic music.

In week one we will begin by exploring the early pioneers of electronic music. This discussion will focus primarily on the opposing musical philosophies of French electroacoustic music at the GRM, and German electronic music at the WDR. We will also discuss some of the other electronic music studios in Europe and America at the time, and how these differed from those in France and Germany.

In week two we will discuss specific techniques of electronic music making technique, before exploring the experience of electronic music in England. We will discuss the unique cultural climate that electronic music had to navigate in England at the time, and specific sites for the creation of electronic music – the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the RCM Studios. Finally, we will discuss how this unique cultural circumstances has led to a phenomenon of ‘lost voices’ in electronic music pioneers of the period.

In week three we will talk more specifically about one of these ‘lost voices’ of English electronic music, Roberto Gerhard. We will look at who Roberto Gerhard was, what his compositional practice looked like, and how he was a unique voice that approached electronic music from a radically different perspective.

Finally, in week four we will look at how contemporary musicologists are unearthing new information on England’s history of electronic music. We will look at the Roberto Gerhard Digital Archive and discuss some of the main issues that digital archivists face with the analogue records of electronic music from the past.

By the time you reach the end of the course, you’ll have a good knowledge of the origins of electronic music and you’ll be familiar with a range of perspectives for thinking about and analysing electronic music. And we hope you’ll want to find out more about this fascinating area of musical study!

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English Electronic Music: Delve into the Digital Archives

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