Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Dyer, Mark. “The Human Still Lives?: Technology, Borrowing and Agency in the Music of Nicolas Collins.” INSAM Journal of Contemporary Music, Art and Technology 4 (July 2020): 77-87.

The music of Nicolas Collins, in particular Still Lives (1992) and its orchestration Still (After) Lives (1997), can be understood through the lens of post-humanism as an entanglement between humans, musical material, and machine agents. In Still Lives, Collins hacks a portable CD player to create short skipping loops from a recording of Giuseppe Guami’s Canzon La Accorta a Quattro, emphasizing the accumulated digital errors. Still (After) Lives is an orchestration of Still Lives for chamber ensemble that imitates the CD artifacts acoustically. This transformation adds additional layers of technological engagement, exploiting the limitations of musical notation as a technology. Both versions end with a recitation of a passage from Nabokov’s Speak, Memory that evokes the fluid nature of memory in the technological failures and mishearing of Guami’s Canzon. The blurring between human and technological agency in the composition of Still Lives and Still (After) Lives invites other composers to more closely scrutinize borrowed material.

Works: Nicolas Collins: Still Lives (78-79, 81-83), Still (After) Lives (79-83).

Sources: Giuseppe Guami: Canzon La Accorta a Quattro (78-79, 81-83); Nicolas Collins: Still Lives (78-79).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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