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Sound sculptor: Glenn Gould’s views on sound recording

Submitted by on 03/10/2018 – 16:04

Elena Stepanova

Abstract: The article outlines the views of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) on the role of sound recording in the creative process, formed as a result of his artistic practice.

Keywords: sound recording, audio production, sound plans, editing, creative process, radio documentary, sound perspective, spatial interpretation of the music score.

Prepared for publication in the collected papers of the XVI international scientific and practical conference “Cultural Studies, Art History and Philology: Contemporary Views and Scientific Research”.

In the second half of the 20th century, art entered a new phase – the technological one. This transition has caused truly tectonic shifts in the process of producing an artistic product and raised several serious questions, the most important of which is the question of the role of technology in the creative process: should technology (including sound recording technology) be considered a purely utilitarian means of fixing an artwork, or is it an integral part of the creative process?

Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, in his book “Understanding Media”, repeatedly addresses the issue of the interaction of artists, musicians, filmmakers with new technologies. Let us cite one of his key statements: “Artists in various fields are always the first to discover how to enable one medium to use or to release the power of another.” [3].

This statement most accurately describes his compatriot Glenn Gould who was a “sound sculptor”, a virtuoso pianist, a musician who made an enormous contribution to the creative use of the electronic medium, who studied its possibilities as an “extension” of a musician, of his instrument, and musical score. In the article “Music and Technology,” Gould argued that technology should not be interpreted as something neutral, like a passive observer. ___ [2].

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References (translated and transliterated):

1. Glenn Guld v studii: videofragmenty [Glenn Gould in the studio: video clips] // [Electronic resource]. — URL: http://www.1000tracks.ru/glenn-gould-personalia-ru/ (15.9.2018).
2. Guld G. Izbrannoe. V 2-kh kn.: kn.2. [Gould G. Selected works. Book 2.] — M.: ID «Klassika-XXI», 2006.
3. Maklyuen M. Ponimanie media: vneshnie rasshireniya cheloveka [Mcluhan M. Understanding media]. — M., 2003.
4. Gould G. The Prospects of Recording // High Fidelity. — № 16 (April 1966).
5. Theberge P. Counterpoint: Glenn Gould & Marshall McLuhan // Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory/Revue canadienne de theorie politique et sociale. — 1986, Vol. X, № 1-2.

Announcement of the article on the publisher’s website: https://www.internauka.org/conf/philology/xvi#articles

Planned publication date: 23.10.2018

After publication, the article will be available in pdf format.

© Elena Stepanova, 2018

Author Profile

Елена Степанова — звукорежиссер, музыкант, автор статей и учебных материалов по звукорежиссуре, музыкальной аранжировке и композиции, истории музыкальных технологий.

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Author profile [English]

Elena Stepanova is a sound producer, musician, author of articles on sound engineering, musical arrangement and composition, history of musical technology.

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