by Matthew Walls
the world of electro-acoustics, sound is everything. Sounds are mulched,
flipped, reversed, filtered, layered, fused, compressed. In a word
Every sound is fascinating, says Lora Sokolova, an electro-acoustics
student at Concordia, because although we hear, we dont often
listen. But when you listen to the sound you can discover all these little
things going on in there.
Sokolova was one of the first students at Concordia to major in electroacoustics
when she enrolled in the fall of 2000.
The universitys music department has offered electroacoustics courses
since the early 1970s, but it was just two years ago that a bachelor of
fine arts in electroacoustics was established. Next April will see the
first graduates receive their degrees.
Electroacoustics is a broad field of music that can be roughly divided
into two basic kinds, according to Concordia professor Ian Chuprun: radiophonic
What they both have in common is the artistic use of sound vis-à-vis
the listener in a manner meant to expand his ability to perceive sound.
Usually this has little to do with the traditional elements of music such
as metre or melody, and focuses instead on a sounds timbre.
For students who entered the program in 2000, electroacoustics was an
Carey Dodge, 25, is one of those students. In a way that seems almost
mandatory for these students, Dodge took a circuitous route before stumbling
Originally from Vancouver, he did one year in theatre and dance at Simon
Fraser University, another year composing music with found instruments
(bottles, bowls, saws, etc.) for theatrical productions, then another
year taking French and music courses at Montreal universities.
For Dodge, who is interested in music from both an artistic and a scientific
perspective, electroacoustics was the path hed always been looking
for. Hes been able to combine his interest in found instruments
with the electro.
[For] one piece, I did some multiphonic [vocals] and I combined
it with metal, some cutlery in a drawer, and it created a metallic wash
of sound that you cant find in nature or in reality. Still, the
listener is drawn in because theyre recognizable sounds.
With Jason Dellis, who transferred into the program after one year of
suffering in business, the electroacoustics program taught
him to use studio techniques like sound recording and software use. Dellis
has combined his DJing skills with electro-acoustics.
This semester hes producing a CD with tracks by Concordia students
that is a mix of the two styles.
I really like electroacoustic music, but I just find its lacking
that rhythmic quality that were all used to. Or just some quality
thats more accessible. So I thought, why not make tracks composed
of both elements?
With the experience hes gained producing this CD, Dellis hopes to
start a record label once he graduates, and press vinyl and distribute
Like Dellis and Dodge, Sokolova also entered the program without any idea
of what electroacoustics was, and she has adapted its potentialities to
Sokolova trained as a classical pianist for 16 years in Bulgaria before
moving here at the age of 18 in 1999. Her piece, Doors, layered the sounds
of someone reading an essay on longing for home and her voice reading
the same essay in Bulgarian, with a Bulgarian folk song.
Next year, Sokolova hopes to collaborate with dancers and theatre groups
and explore the live-performance possibilities of electroacoustics.
While all three students entered the program knowing little about electroacoustics,
they have so enjoyed the program and learning what its about, that
they are leaving as keen practitioners.
Dodge will complete a fellowship next spring after graduating, and then
travel to Europe to work.
He is constantly seeking new ways to explore the use of sound, and he
sees this as the typical quest for the electroacoustic musician.
I research and discover sounds, and then the art of electroacoustics
is presenting those sounds in an artful way. Thats where I distinguish
myself from the scientist. Im not about, Ive discovered
this decibel level and this frequency, Im about, This
is wicked man, check it out.