EMS 09 -Ponencia- A critical survey of analytical methodologies of electroacoustic music

I Autor: Rodrigo F. Cádiz, Patricio de la Cuadra
Idioma: Inglés
Fecha de Publicación: 15/06/2009
Actividad en donde fue presentado: EMS 09. Herencia y futuro



Electroacoustic music has expanded not only the possibilities of instrumental music towards a wider field of sonic material, but has indeed created a new art form, usually denoted as sonic art. The usual absence of a written score, in addition to the relatively young age of electroacoustic music has presented some unique difficulties to its analysis, and as a consequence a common analytical lexicon consistent with the particularities of this new art form has not been clearly established yet. A critical survey of different methodologies of analysis is discussed in this article.

Electroacoustic music, defined as music that is generated by electronic means, or by a combination of these with acoustic instruments, constitutes a very particular genre in the history of music. This music manifests important differences with respect to instrumental music, among them the usual absence of a written score and known sound sources, and the possibility of composing not only between sounds but within them. Some composers of this kind of music have questioned if what they do can still be denominated music in the traditional sense of the word, and reject the notion of being a composer. In general, these artists understand music as a subset of a more general sonic art, a new art form that, as Jean-Claude Risset states, is so different from instrumental music that it belongs to a totally different branch, in the same way that cinema is different from theater. These differences clearly affect the analysis. Most of the available analytical methods for instrumental music, cannot be applied in electroacoustic music.

As a consequence, several analytical strategies and methodologies have been proposed through the literature, each one with their own strengths and weaknesses, there are still neither general strategies or methods, nor an established analytical lexicon, something desirable for any kind of analysis. The analysis of electroacoustic music is usually done heuristically and particularly for each work being analyzed. There are no universally accepted strategies, despite the fact that some tools such as the sonogram are widely used. It is important to be aware that this is true for most music, but given the complexity and particularities of electroacoustic music, this is especially important in this case. Some authors have recently identified this problem and attempted to find invariant features and common strategies, so that the analysis could be systematized. Despite some notable advances in the last few years, published analysis of electroacoustic music are still very rare in comparison to analytical publications of instrumental or even contemporary music.

We propose an exhaustive survey and critical review of some important methodologies for analysis of electroacoustic music that have been proposed in the literature. This review could be of help in the establishment of an adequate analytical lexicon and provide some solid foundations for a future comprehensive methodology for the analysis of electroacoustic music.

Rodrigo F. Cádiz and Patricio de la Cuadra

rcadiz@uc.cl / pcuadra@uc.cl
Centro de Investigación en Tecnologías de Audio
Instituto de Música
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile