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new sound perspectives. As was the case with the first electronic instruments or one or the other interactive installation, the mechanical orchestrion was nothing more than a technical attraction.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart shared this view. He used the technical extraordinariness of the instrument in a commissioned composition for an automatic organ clock, however he felt that the result was somewhat frivolous. It was furthest from his mind to thematize the technical medium itself, because as a musician in the pre-modern age his measure of all things was music played by human beings. Even the inventor of noise music, Luigi Russolo, could not conceive of taking this step. By wanting to «give pitches to these diverse noises, regulating them harmonically and rhythmically,» he did not seek the rules of design in the new material or its origin (the machines), rather he engaged an understanding of music that had been cultivated on traditional instruments and traditional ways of making and listening to music—and which the Futurists actually wanted to overcome.
Igor Stravinsky hoped to gain increased control through mechanical instruments. However, one of the reasons he took so much notice of the player piano
was that the specific problems caused by composing for it enriched his work. The «Studies for Player Piano,» which the American composer Conlon Nancarrow began writing around 1950, constitute the first complete body of musical work to consistently place the possibilities of a technical medium in the foreground.
On the one hand, audio art has hopes of gaining control through the use of technical media. Media convey information where conveying information was previously impossible; they make greater amounts of data available, which in turn can only be researched and navigated with the aid of media; they enable the control of the temporal, spatial and structural details of processes, which without these aids would be neither perceptible to nor controllable by human beings. On the other hand, the deliberate loss of control is being implemented to counter this gain of control. Not only the potential of the technical advantages, but also the alleged technical disadvantages of the media used are being exhausted: mechanical rigidity, amateur-like construction, and ‹unnatural› dimensions of space and time.