Day of Electricity (2005)

for viola, electronics, clarinet
By Douglas Boyce
American

“All the sounds used in my Day of Electricity are derived in one technical way or another from a speech of Thomas A. Edison’s entitled “Electricity and Progress,” which was read at the opening of the New York Electrical Show, October 3, 1908. The work use segments from this speech as concret blocks, time-stretches and/or compresses them, and uses them as as elements of FM synthesis. In the speech, Edison tries to establish his own place in history by placing his own “electrical work” among those by which “nearly all of society has been revolutionized.” Edison’s essentially conservative vision of the future completely missed the artistic implications of the invention of recorded sound. Curiously, in Edison’s original advertising for his cylinders, he gave a list of their potential uses; only one in ten was the “reproduction of music”; other items were toys, telephone answering machines, and “Clocks that should announce in articulate speech the time for going home, going to meals, etc.,” Day of Electricity exploits a complete lacuna in Edison’s vision, the potential use of recorded sound (in this case his own voice) as a basis and source of musical material. I would like to thank the fascinating and vast www.archive.org for its tremendous resources, excellent design, and progressive approach to the freedom of information and culture.”, DB

Other works by Douglas Boyce:
“It is thus possible to create a tradition that is held together by strict rules, and that is also successful, to some extent. But is it desirable to support such a tradition to the exclusion of everything else?...These are questions I intend to ask...And to these questions my answer will be a firm and resounding NO. ”
--Paul K. Feyerabend, Against Method