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The Art of Recording and The Aesthetics of Perfection

Hamilton, Andy



Recording has transformed the nature of music as an art by reconfiguring the opposition between the aesthetics of perfection and imperfection. A precursor article, ‘The Art of Improvisation and the Aesthetics of Imperfection’, contrasted the perfectionist aesthetic of the ‘work-concept’ with the imperfectionist aesthetic of improvisation. Imperfectionist approaches to recording are purist in wanting to maintain the diachronic and synchronic integrity of the performance, which perfectionist recording creatively subverts through mixing and editing. But a purist transparency thesis cannot evade the fact that the recorded image is crafted; against creative editing, however, the imperfectionist ideal of the ‘complete take’ is humanistic and anti-mechanistic, and not mere Romantic illusion. The article concludes with a discussion of the question of the artistic status of recording, and contrasts the possibility of a non-acousmatic sound art with the essentially acousmatic art of music.


Hamilton, A. (2003). The Art of Recording and The Aesthetics of Perfection. British Journal of Aesthetics, 43(4), 345-362.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2003
Deposit Date Jul 26, 2007
Journal British Journal of Aesthetics
Print ISSN 0007-0904
Electronic ISSN 1468-2842
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 4
Pages 345-362