Understanding the Art of Sound Organization

Leigh Landy

The MIT Press, 2007
xiii, 303pp ISBN 0-262-12292-8
Link to MIT webpage dedicated to this book

The art of sound organization, also known as electroacoustic music, uses sounds not available to traditional music making, including pre-recorded, synthesized, and processed sounds. The body of work of such sound-based music (which includes electroacoustic art music, turntable composition, computer games, and acoustic and digital sound installations) has developed more rapidly than its musicology. Understanding the Art of Sound Organization proposes the first general foundational framework for the study of the art of sound organization, defining terms, discussing relevant forms of music, categorizing works, and setting sound-based music in interdisciplinary contexts.

The goal in this book is not only to create a theoretical framework but also to make the work more accessible--to suggest ways to understand sound-based music, to give a listener what he terms "something to hold on to", for example by connecting elements in a work to everyday experience. The author considers the difficulties of categorizing works and discusses such types of works as sonic art and electroacoustic music, pointing out where they overlap and how they are distinctive. He defines patterns that suggest a general framework and places the studies of sound-based music into interdisciplinary contexts, from acoustics to semiotics, proposing a holistic research approach that considers the interconnectedness of a given work's history, theory, technological aspects, and social impact.

The author's ElectroAcoustic Resource Site (EARS, www.ears.dmu.ac.uk), the architecture of which parallels this book's structure, offers updated bibliographic resource abstracts and related information.

Table of Contents

    Introducing the EARS project  

    (A) Art Meets Daily Life: Listening to Real-World Sounds in an 
	  Artistic Context 	
    (B) Commencing the Classification Debate: Is Sound Art Music?	
    (C) The Terminology Debate: Defining the Main Terms	

1 From Intention to Reception to Appreciation: Offering Listeners some 
	things to hold on to 	 
    (A) How Accessible are Works of Organized Sound?
          The 'Something to Hold on to Factor'
    (B) Communication from the Maker's and the Listener's Points of View
          The Dramaturgy of Sound Organization
          To What Extent Does a Composer's Intention Find Resonance in the 
		in the Listener's Reception? 
    (C) Further Issues Concerning Access and Sound-based Music
    Addendum - The Three Intention/Reception Project Questionnaires

2 From Concept to Production to Presentation to Theory: Creating 
     (A) Families of Approaches/Works of Organized Sound: From 
  	   Material to Structure to Presentation	
           (1) Musique Concrétement; From Acoulogy to Spectromorphology
           (2) Real-world Music: from Acoustic Ecology to Soundscape 
           (3) Appropriation: Convergence (1)	
           (4) New Sounds: From Synthesis to Microsound to Noise	
           (5) An Interim Summary: All Sounds are Sound Objects	
           (6) Formalized Works: From die Reihe to All Things Algorithmic	
           (7) The Popular Dimension	
           (8) The 'Split' between Fixed Medium and Live Electronic 
		Performance: Convergence (2)	
           (9) Sound Art-> Sonic Art: Convergence (3)
     (B) A Return to the Classification Debate: In Search of a Paradigm

3 Towards a framework for the study of sound-based artworks 	
     (A) To Start	
          (1) A Return to the EARS Site	
          (2) Interdisciplinarity: A Brief Survey of Disciplines Relevant 
		to the Study of Sound-based Works	
          (3) Holism: How History, Theory, Cultural Impact and 
		Technological Development are Interrelated
     (B) The Proposed Framework	
          (1) Classification: From Sound to Work Level	
          (2) The Listening Experience	
          (3) Modes of Discourse, Analysis, and Representation
          (4) Organizing Sound from Micro- to Macro-level
          (5) New Virtuosit
          (6) New Means of Presentation
          (7) Achieving Interdisciplinarity and Holism 	
     (C) Looking Forward 	

Appendix - The Keyword Index from the ElectroAcoustic Resource 
	Site (EARS) 	




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