Acceptance Speech by Laurie Spiegel
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Winner of the 2013 SEAMUS Award

SEAMUS News, 2012/13, Issue No. 4- February - April
A publication of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.

Thank you very much SEAMUS. That you chose me for this award is deeply meaningful, pleasing and heartening,..

Over these very few decades we've seen electroacoustic music transform from being considered truly weird outsider stuff not admissible in any music school to so mainstream that electronic means of musical creation are more likely the default than the exception. It's a very unusual project that doesn't involve any electronic means of working with sound at any or all stages of production. Electronic technology has become an integral part of every aspect of our present musical culture.

Computers are integrated everywhere into music, as are recorded sounds, both from nature and man-made. We are now seeing a tremendous popular revivalist interest in analog electronic music and sounds and early electronic music technology. Even classic studio analog tape techniques are making a comeback.

So has electronic music become sufficiently successful and mainstream that it no longer exists as a separate category of music? Isn't most music electronic in some ways at this point, our mission of establishing this broader range of sonic vocabulary, creative techniques, musical structures and ways of interacting with sound now having been accomplished? Is there no longer an "electroacoustic music" that is apart from music in general, our art having disappeared back into the larger one it emerged from like a wave into the sea?

I don't think so, actually. There is more to electroacoustic music than the techniques and the sounds and the ways we interact with them. There are also certain qualities that are both important and still very rare. One is the visionary nature of what we do that we wanted, and still want, to express what there has never been a way to express, to hear sounds that have never been heard, and that we envision what doesn't exist. There is also a spirit of experimentalism, part science and part art, in which we hypothesize some sound or sonic fabric and a means to create it, and we do the work of finding a way to make it happen, and we test our hypotheses to see if it works and where it leads. We try ways of creating that are new and untested that may or may not work at all, technically or musically. And there is also the place this music comes from, which is partly imagination and partly a different way of hearing and experiencing the sounds of our world, an openness in listening that wants to be free of preconceptions and habits.

I have worked in this field quite a long time and seen incredible changes, including the transition of many sounds and techniques from unique cutting edge instances to ubiquitously available resources. All those sounds and techniques that were once thought so strange then later came to be so widely accepted, they are not the real essence of what we are doing, what still sets us apart as electroacoustic composers.

They are artifacts of what we have done, a trail we have left, not the essence of our process. What we do is inhabit the extreme edges of the known sonic universe, to dwell there and listen, to find and reveal or realize what may be there, to postulate and to populate those spaces, to listen openly to our individual imaginations and sonic sensations, to feel for what is so subtle or so complex or so fundamental or so authentically meaningful that it still evades being focused on, captured, described, expressed or shared.

- Laurie Spiegel


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