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Sound UnseenAcousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice$
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Brian Kane

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347841.001.0001

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Acousmatic Fabrications

Acousmatic Fabrications

(p.165) 6 Acousmatic Fabrications
Sound Unseen

Brian Kane

Oxford University Press

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

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