We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Andy Hamilton

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

Author(s) from Durham


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.