CAP, the Concordia Archival Project, is the name of a project to restore and digitize a large number of electroacoustic music compositions and materials by (mostly) Canadian composers.
In the late 1970s, Kevin Austin started collecting “electronic music” compositions and performances by Canadian and international composers. At the time these were simply stored for use in concerts presented at Concordia University in Montréal, and the collection simply “grew.” With the advent of the personal computer, it was decided to create a database of titles and composers, and by the mid-1980s, the collection had grown to over 500 pieces, many of them existing in only two copies, that of the composer and the one held at Concordia. In 1988 Jean-Francois Denis, with the financial assistance of Concordia University, published a monograph of the database, Q/Résonance, and the year later, a Q/Résonance Addendum. The collection continued to add hundreds of pieces which were not commercially available and by the mid-90s, there were something over 1,500 pieces.
The collection reflects many things about the 25-year historical period of the early 70s to the mid-90s, most visible in the media storage, starting with 1/4" and 1/2" analog tape, and expanding to include cassette, DAT, VHS and Betamax digital, ADAT, and where this project stops for now, CD-R and CDs. Less visible are the sociological changes, the early works being composed in studios that few had access to, on rudimentary equipment, but still costing in the tens of thousands of dollars, and by the mid-1990s, works were being composed by hundreds of composers at home on their own desktop systems costing less than $10,000.
This collection also acquired tape archives from a number of other Montréal groups, notably a large portion of the tape collection held by ACREQ, much of which has been restored and transfered in the project.
A major primary research source, the Media Library is complemented by a series of eLearning modules to guide both the novice and the seasoned listener through many of the aspects of style and technique / technology of this important period in the development of electroacoustics in the history of Montréal, Québec and Canada. Scholars and ordinary listeners alike will derive much pleasure and find many hidden surprises in this important unique collection.
Professor Kevin Austin
Department of Music
December 10, 2008
Produced with the financial participation of the Department of Canadian Heritage
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