Edited by Gordon Mumma – Cybersonic Arts: Adventures in American New Music

Cybersonic Arts

University of Illinois Press, ISBN-13: 978-0252081019, English, 376 pages, 2015, USA

There’s a strategic value in documenting early electronic music, as it metaphorically dispersed the seeds of a true paradigm shift in music and aesthetics. This scene was sprouting in small academic and underground circles, with had no entitled or unofficial historian. Consequently, the first-hand histories flowing from this book are precious, provided by one of the unsung heroes of the American electronic music scene, Gordon Mumma. Mumma integrated advanced electronic processes in musical structures, including live ones, a process he defined as “cybersonics.” This collection of documents, edited by musicologist Michelle Fillion, is complemented by a remarkable collection of pictures. Together these documents form a valuable resource. In a changing writing style that shifts from personal accounts to the journalistic, to technical explanations, Mumma details his collaborations with artists such as John Cage, David Tudor and Merce Cunningham. The chapter on Latin America, in particular, reveals a whole scene in Uruguay that Mumma explored during the seventies and documents here. More generally, the rendering of a historical “scene”, with protagonists collaboratively supporting each other and producing an incredible quality of work, is not only essential for posterity, but can surely be inspiring for the current generation, who are often scattered by an excessive amount of remote personal communication, instead of being supported to meet and to develop new ideas collaboratively.