Chapter

Acousmatic Fabrications

Brian Kane

in Sound Unseen

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780199347841
Published online June 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199347872 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347841.003.0008
Acousmatic Fabrications

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The career of the guitarist Les Paul provides a case study for the theory of acousmatic sound developed in chapters 4 and 5. Paul, like a magician, played with listeners of his radio program by creating scenarios that depended on uncertain attributions of source and cause. One scenario involved the creation of a fictional machine, the “Les Paulverizer.” These radio techniques had to be modified when Paul and his wife Mary Ford performed live. Live performance posed a challenge to music that required a high degree of acousmaticity. Paul’s solution involved the use of hidden performers and recalled the legendary Pythagorean veil. Later, Paul’s creation of an actual “Les Paulverizer”—a guitar-mounted black box that controlled a hidden playback device—allowed him to maintain acousmatic spacing during live performance while forcing him into the unusual position of ventriloquizing his own voice.

Keywords: Les Paul; Mary Ford; overdubbing; multitracked recordings; misdirection; radio; technology

Chapter.  6762 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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