EMS 09 - Abstract- La musique “electro- autistique”. Combining pierre schaeffer’s seven criteria with soundscape material for musical education.

Dr. Theodore Lotis
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On October 5, the music community celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first electro-acoustic music concert. The heritage of the last six decades imbued with new ideas, methodologies, and ways of listening and sound understanding has been thoroughly examined and appreciated. However, at this time of reflection one should think not only the course of electro-acoustic music during these years, but also some aspects related to its perception by the audience. Often, our audience is puzzled and confused because of the noisy character of the music, the complex extra-musical methodologies that are often used by composers, the difficulty of recognizing the sound sources, or the absence of visual elements especially in acousmatic music. Although concrete music started as an empirical experience, the obsessive preoccupation with the sound material leaded to complete abstract boundaries and directed a large number of listeners to identify electro-acoustic music with elitism and often “autism”. For many of them, la musique electro-acoustique became synonymous with la musique “electro-autistique”.

 It is time to think and propose adequate methods of approaching and educating our future audience. If the future listener is the pupil of today, these methods need to be clear and comprehensible, embodied in a systematic and complete educational methodology, which simplifies and explains empirically the ideas of electro-acoustic music.  

This paper proposes a method of musical education, which combines the seven criteria, as described by Pierre Schaeffer, with soundscape experience in order to get the basic ideas of electro-acoustic music over young children. The method, based on collected soundscape material from rural and urban areas, derives from a project entitled “Research and Analysis of Greek Soundscapes”, carried out by the Electroacoustic Music Research and Applications Laboratory of the Ionian University, during 2004-2006.

Our proposition is that before trying to educate children (our future audience) or even students about the abstract notions of electro-acoustic music, we should teach them how to perceive the sounds of their environment and extract information from them. The seven criteria elucidated by soundscape paradigms can be a helpful tool in our effort to develop children’s power of observation through empiricism.

We shall present sound examples which can be described by the seven criteria and related to notions of electro-acoustic music, such as the definition of the source and its spatial position, the importance of the attack, the periodicity and the rhythm, the perception of dynamics, the relation between space, distance and sonic mass, and the awareness of time and duration. Our experience so far with young children in one primary school has made clear that these sound examples should be immediately recognized and therefore, they should be collected from environments within which the children live. The information extracted from the examples will be associated with the perception of the sonic environment, as well as the ideas and practices of electro-acoustic music.

Dr. Theodore Lotis

Lecturer, Music Department, Ionian University
Ionian University 
t_lotis@yahoo.com / lotis@ionio.gr