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New Movements in Digital Music
by Sylvie Parent, translated by Timothy Barnard

15.1 - May

Musicians were the first artists to appropriate the computer, and they have done so in an intensive, inventive, and diversified way. The new tools, media, and means of dissemination presented by the digital world are an unmistakeable extension of the intimate connection between the language of sound and the ways in which it is created, transformed, and distributed. Instruments, machines, and devices of all kinds, whether analog or digital, can be put to use when exploring new ways of generating, manipulating, listening to, sharing, or propagating sound. In other words, music and its tools, including digital technology, have always gone together, and sound art is characterized by constant experimentation with new procedures and environments which enable it to extend its territory.

This issue of HorizonZero addresses new movements in digital music while also looking back on past accomplishments in digital sound art in Canada. This artistic field is so vast and so rich that we could easily devote each issue to it without ever covering it completely! To date, we have not neglected to include sound art in our publication on a regular basis, and to refer to particularly stimulating experiments in this field. In Issue 8, for example, which was titled Remix, we discussed DJ and VJ culture, sampling, assemblage technologies, and the convergence of image and sound in the digital world. With this issue, we wanted to highlight what's happening in digital sound: its experimental and popular forms, and its flows from one culture, medium, and space to another. In this sense, we wanted to emphasize striking trends, identify fascinating avenues of artistic creation, and show remarkable practices to advantage.

The first part of Issue 15 (May) contains an interactive chronology of electronic music authored by Leonard Paul, a musician and composer who has participated in the creation of numerous multimedia projects in fields as varied as theatre, dance, video games, interactive media, and cinema. We also present two previously unpublished interactive sound toys created especially for this issue. The first is The Business Contact by Paul Ortchanian, in which you will meet a businessman and a young person in a space studded with stars. The second is Par avion ("By Plane"). The fruit of a collaboration between Leonard Paul and HorizonZero's Interactive Designer Jenny San Martin, its purpose is to capture the essence of cultural migrations and musical transformations across Canada and the world. All this is just a sampling of what you can expect next month: interviews and articles on a variety of topics, such as sound engineering, electroacoustics, wireless distribution, music generated by brain waves, and much more.

15.2 - June
In the follow-up to our May issue, which began our exploration of the vast territory of digital music, we continue with more highly diverse coverage of the field. The articles, interviews, and multimedia projects published in FLOW testify to the fluidity and vitality of sound in the digital world, and sometimes venture in surprising directions as well. In keeping with this spirit, Sara Diamond shares important insights with us in her column Quintessence, this month pointing out how readily music is able to flow from one medium, technology, and culture to another.

In Auditory and Visual: Electroacoustic Music and the End of an Avant-Garde, Réjean Beaucage discusses the historic trajectory of electroacoustic music, from the birth of musique concrète to today's laptop musicians. Drawing upon an interview with Éric Mattson, program consultant for Montreal's MUTEK festival, Beaucage also investigates the return of "real" musical instruments to the electronic music concert. Elsewhere, Brian Wright-McLeod writes in Digital Tribes about the striking presence of electronics in the contemporary music of indigenous artists, and the influence this music has in turn had upon the sonic landscape.

On the subject of present-day directions in electronic music and digital sound art, Lucinda Catchlove shares her own ideas and those of Patti Schmidt, host of the CBC radio program Brave New Waves, in an interview piece entitled Smudgy Territory. HorizonZero also invited Patti Schmidt to choose five innovative digital music artists from across Canada to be included in this month's Horizontal listening gallery (whose theme is the ubiquitous summer road trip). The result is an electrifying portrait of Canadian sound art which brings together musical tracks by Tim Hecker, Secret Mommy, David Kristian, Venetian Snares, and Akufen. Your ears and your mind will be delighted.

Returning to the articles, in A Young Person's Guide to Brainwave Music, Andrew Brouse leads us through the fascinating world of brainwave music, from the earliest experiments to contemporary work in the field. tobias van Veen's Sound Tracks and Data Footprints introduces us to some contemporary sound art projects that use wireless technologies to reveal the corporeal experiences, spatializations of sound, and potential linkages with geography that such tools can make possible. And finally, in this month's spotlight on audio technology, Theresa Leonard and Chris Chafe share their considerable expertise concerning recent advances in sound recording and music technologies, exploring their impact on producers, artists, and listeners.

Sylvie Parent is the French editor of HorizonZero.

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