Tuesday, December 13, 2005

EARS - What is it?

The internet is a wild, wild place.

As part of my preparation each semester, I spend some time finding interesting corners of the web that I might be able to share with my students. Teaching Rock and Roll and ElectroAcoustic music means that there are any number of pages that come and go very quickly!

One of the more interesting links that I've found is EARS: ElectroAcoustic Music Resource Site. This site, run by Leigh Landy at DePauw University, attempts to be an all-inclusive site, with a massive bibliography, glossary and an excellent index.

I was incredibly excited as I began to explore this site last year. Here was the beginnings of a very valuable resource, particularly for its bibliography.

Unfortunately, I found it to be anything BUT comprehensive. For instance, while there are sections on EA analysis and Sonograms, there is no mention of Robert Cogan's influential and pioneering work in the field. Further examination finds no mention of Roger Reynolds, or for that matter, many US scholars, composers and history.

It was at this time that I discovered that the site was run by Leigh Landy.

Now, I don't mean to be petty at all - and it is important for the reader to note that I relate the following story to illustrate my concerns, but not to "get back" at Landy in any way.

Landy reviewed "Electroacoustic Music: Analytical Perspectives" (Tom Licata, Greenwood Press 2002), a collection of essays, including my own essay on Joji Yuasa's The Sea Darkens..., in MLA Notes Volume 60, No. 1 (September, 2003). His review took exception with the book, but in particular, the analyses that included Spectrographic analysis, a la Cogan. I communicated with Landy, as his main point seemed to be that this sort of analysis depends too much on the technology and not enough on the experience of listening. My response was that the Sonograms provide only a visual representation of the physical sound, and that the analysis, my own in particular, was built entirely by listening carefully to the work. And I find this to be a much more powerful form of analysis than score analysis, as we now analyze musical output.

At any rate, it became clear that we disagreed on this point. Landy was only interested (in the review) in the essays in which the composers either shared sketches or actually wrote the essay. The essays in which there was any sort of analysis by someone else were heavily criticised by Landy.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it is precisely this type of scholarship that is entirely missing from EARS. This is disappointing, and I've already contacted them to share my dismay that some very important scholarship was missing. I recieved a response that claims that an additional 350 items are due to be updated in January and encouraging me to submit a bibliography.

Rest assured, I will.

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