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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathSound & Vision
 
Williams Mix (Cage, John), 1952Random Access Music; Exposition of Music  Electronic Television (Paik, Nam June), 1963
 
 
 

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leading role in this interaction for a time. [22] The crucial factor here is a radical questioning of the concept of the musical work, and then the technical advances made by the audio media.

Audio tape simplified the very elaborate and costly production needed for sound film, and made much more complex montage possible. Now for the first time musicians can conduct their own experiments with a recording medium, without a great deal of expense. John Cage devised a graphic score for his first tape composition «Weekend» in 1952. It was not possible to cope with this level of complexity using classical notation, Cage needed an image to compose sound. Eight tape recording tracks run parallel. Each of these tracks is made up of short pieces of sound whose sequence and form are determined by random principles. Cage uses 600 different noises as his basic material, the hand-written score covers 192 pages. Cutting and pasting thousands of tape snippets was also done laboriously by hand, and took almost a year, even though friends helped, —all for just four minutes of music.

It would be much simpler to produce a comparably

 

complex montage using today's digital technology. The software presents the sound graphically, thus allowing direct interaction with it. That means that the distinction between the score on paper and laboriously recreating it on tape is no longer necessary, the digital score is also the instrument by which it is realized.

Williams Mix needed ten years after Cage to take the first step towards an interactive composition of this type in real time, still using a completely analogue approach with the good old tape recorder, under the title «Random Access». To do this he put his hand into the machine, took the sound head out and gave it to a listener. Nothing can be heard until the listener becomes actively involved and runs the head along the collage of tape. In the first version in 1963 the pieces of tape are pasted directly on the wall. So instead of a completed composition, Paik creates an interactive installation, and instead of just working on the tape recorder's software he modifies the hardware—a reception medium becomes a new production instrument. Paik also applied this «Random Access» principle to gramophone records in the same

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