Studio audience
Glenn Gould’s contrapuntal radio
in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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This chapter unfolds the significance of the microphone and the studio in Glenn Gould's radio work. The studio replaced the concert stage and permitted Gould to compose in a new theatrical form: what he called contrapuntal radio, the editing together and mixing of multiple recorded voices, music and other sounds in complex, conflicted dialogue to achieve a kind of sonic density that plays at the limits of a listener's ability to follow, sort and separate meanings. Investigating these contrapuntal aesthetics in several contexts, including that of European and North American avant-garde writing on music and media (in the work of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Marshall McLuhan), the chapter offers an affective, phenomenological approach to the studio as a way to bridge various aesthetic and political readings. The chapter listens closely to 'A Glenn Gould Fantasy', a late, seemingly minor recording that features Gould's ridiculous impersonations of fictitious music critics. From an affect-theoretical perspective the studio becomes a space of phantasy and psychic containment for Gould and his many conflicting voices that is itself contained both by the institutions that supported his work (such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and by the listener who may internalise its intimate space.

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde

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