a1 Deparment of Music, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Alberta TIK 3M4, Canada E-mail: email@example.com
This article presents the concept of virtual liveness and demonstrates its relevance in an analysis of ‘Vane’, one of John Oswald's plunderphonic pieces. It argues that even when encountering a piece of music that lacks a physically co-present audience, lacks largely unmediated acoustic sound and lacks a live performer, the term ‘performance’ may still be usefully applied. In these cases, however, the sense of liveness that invokes this idea of performance is often more virtual than actual. ‘Vane’ sounds not just like a combination of Oswald's two source recordings (Carly Simon's and Faster Pussycat's versions of ‘You're So Vain’), but like a new technological entity: Oswald's manipulations of his source material result in sounds that are decidedly ‘of the machine’, even as they invite us to sing along with Carly Simon's and Faster Pussycat's performances. We enter into a complex network of references between the performances represented in the original recordings and this new, virtual performance – the performance, ultimately, of a sounding cyborg.
Paul Sanden teaches in the Department of Music at the University of Lethbridge. He was awarded the PhD in Music at the University of Western Ontario for his dissertation, ‘Performing liveness: musicians, machines, and mediatization’ (2008; supported by a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada). His scholarship draws from several disciplines and musical traditions, but remains mostly rooted in the practices of the 20th and 21st centuries, and particularly in issues of contemporary performance. His most recent work examines the concept of live music, and the various ways that concept has been reconfigured by recent employments of electronic technologies in several musical practices. This project will soon reach fruition in his book, Liveness in Modern Music: Musicians, Technology, and the Perception of Performance (forthcoming from Routledge). Dr Sanden has also begun work on a project titled The Virtual Virtuoso, which examines the practice and concept of musical virtuosity in a digital era.