As a maker of electronic music, I believe the play and effort involved with generating gesture, timbre and texture as well as resultant activities like arranging and mixing can enact a sense of metaphoric and physiological touch. I played an instrument for many years before this and spent some time practising so that the feeling I had for music in my body became somewhat effortless in performance. The body can make sense of music based on physiological understanding that musicians may have gleaned from prior playing experience (Mead 1999). This can be thought of as a gestural, tactile aural memory. I also add to this breath and respiration even though breath itself is not sonic object I focus on and is one I often try to resist. My familiarity with the embodied habits of playing the flute that built up over time mean there is a physiological metaphor (Mead 1999) of respiration (Deleuze 1994) in my electronic expression in terms of time. Metaphors of space and the breath call forward intimacy with the body in ways that are not at first obvious in my work. Perhaps it is in imagining our immediate and local spaces in temporal ways that hold some promise.
First, it is necessary to think about music’s time and music’s gathering up of ‘now’: “(m)usic’s movement mimes the striding, the leaping, the hesitations, the rocking motions, the twisting and turning of the human organism in its landscape and in its mindscape” (Burrows 2007, 68). A shift occurs whereby we are able to view in ‘music’ its mimetic qualities in the human and, I would add, its technoscientific presence in the social environment. (These are elements I write about elsewhere* including rhythm role.) Movement in the music can be analogous to the twisting existence of the human, the body in the landscape and mindscape. The landscape-mindscape, which I convert here to spatial-mindscape, is where place , location and spatial patterning can be referred to. The link to the mindscape under question is mine, but as this is not only about me it is crucial to recognise there are multiple spaces and that there are different paces and rhythms that exist simultaneously within them at any one time.
The spatial-mindscape is an apt description for electronic and wholly synthesised compositions that evoke bodily movement for someone in place. I am not so much concerned with brain-focused music-processing approaches that look at where music lights up the brain, where the auditory sensory memory is (Collins 2014) or how the results of whether or not you are reading music show on an fMRI (Ross et all 2014). Nor am I seeking to give those looking for literal epilepsy-music connections in the brain a map. By mindscape I am referring to how a subject perceives, experiences and orders the lived world and how she orients her body here and there as clouds of epileptic and epileptic-related events and seizures arise. These are some of the experiences that I write about in the current chapter. I’m trying to draw space, the body and touch, emotion, my electronic practice and the experience of epilepsy together and make some sense of it.
In the amalgam of practice, making and listening to electronic music there are two kinds of materialities that touch can accompany (Peters 2012). The first is that of the making where the person engages with the technology in some way. There are numerous debates and practices around what constitutes a good or relevant interface for ‘musical expression’. I am not concerned here with the interface or practice and at a later stage I address both the limits of my own interface as well as what I see as problematic in the drive for innovation, even in alternative sectors. For now, I am thinking about the realm of the digital that a person enters in to create. Here, she may be thinking and feeling some of what I mention above during the playful modes of (Brown 2001) compositional engagement. Secondly, there is a listening experience that Peters (2012) calls an invisible materiality, and alongside it, a second tactility. When listened to this tactility may not only engage active bodily listening — “a tactility experienced through the sound and from the body” (Peters 2012, 20) — but also the possibility of empathic reciprocity. And while sounding positive in many ways, we (I) cannot assume that all people experience similar felt tactility, sensation and “shared existential givens” (Peters 2012, 20) in similar ways.