Man was now placed in a new relationship with sounds.
The first and perhaps most obvious effect of the radio were the new ramifications of the listening environment itself.
Sounds can acquire evocative, almost magical qualities if they are decontextualized by being removed from their causal origins.
“If we sit and talk in a dark room, words suddenly acquire new meanings and different textures. (...) All those gestural qualities that the printed page strips from language come back in the dark and on radio.Given only the sound of a play, we have to fill in all of the senses, not just the sight of the action.” (McLuhan, 1964 p.303)
This condition of radio listening was described as acousmatic by Schaeffer and others: the term has since gained general acceptance in the electroacoustic medium.
This acousmatic situation must be extended to all those listening environments in which sounds are heard without any visual confirmation of their sources. Consequently it is the natural manner of listening both to the radio and recorded sounds.
This notion alone was sufficiently important for Schaeffer to claim that sounds listened to directly and acousmatically “triggered off a whole process of discovery” (Schaeffer, 1966 p.32).
Published in Contemporary Music Review (Harwood Academic Publishers) (1994)
|"Deriva", an Audio-Play by Paulo Proença and Alexandra Leite, directed by Francisco Leal; Photo by Marco Duarte, 2017.|