12. Jacques Attali


Jacques Attali (born 1 Nov 1943) is a French economic and social theorist, writer, political adviser and senior civil servant, who served as a counsellor to President François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1991 and was the first head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1991 to 1993. He wrote the book 'Noise: The Political Economy of Music', which is one of the inspirations for our project 'Pushing Scores'.

Attali is the first to point out other possible logical consequences of the 'reciprocal interaction' modelnamely, the possibility of a superstructure to anticipate historical developments and to foreshadow new social formations in a prophetic and annunciatory way. The argument of 'Noise' is that music, unique among the arts for reasons that are themselves overdetermined, has precisely this annunciatory vocation; that the music of today stands both as a promise of a new, liberating mode of production, and as the menace of a dystopian possibilitywhich stands as that mode of production's baleful mirror image.


After learning of Attali's book, 'Noise: The Political Economy of Music', we used it as inspiration for the project 'Pushing Scores'. It was particularly of interested to us because of the way in which he focuses on the reproduction of music. Attali believes that music has gone through four specific cultural stages throughout its history:
1. Sacrificing,
2. Representing,
3. Repeating,
4. Post-Repeating.

The second phase is important to the perspective of sound reproduction, graphic score and the tangibility of sound and/or the object. It refers to the era of printed music (15001900). During this period, the musical score is tied to a physical carrier for the first time, and thus becomes a commodity for sale in the market. This notation of music can be considered as a highly coded written guideline for how music should sound. He calls this chapter 'Represent' because it is the project of the executive. This represents the music in the absence of the maker, and in the presence of an audience an effort must be made to read and articulate the intensity of the composer of the magazine. With the rise of the various avant-garde movements from the beginning of the twentieth century, in addition to new forms of 'sound', the relationship between sound and its visual representation is also being re-examined here.

The third stage deals with the mechanical reproduction of music and the fourth stage could be considered as already referring to the idea of sampling, although it was only first published in translation by the University of Minnesota in 1985. At the time of writing it would have been quite prophetic. Because of this ambiguity, we are interested in what this stage of music could represent. What kind of scores can be made with the myriad of new techniques and media that have been developed since Attali's writing, and which are definitely influential on our conceptual thinking of music and its reproduction.

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