Re: soundscape analysis? Get real!

Subject: Re: soundscape analysis? Get real!
From: Andrew Lewis (
Date: Wed Dec 15 1999 - 07:14:00 EST

Robert Worby wrote:
> No wonder electroacoustic music equals frumpy old academics in
> cardigans.

I know Robert is fiercely and in my opinion rather uncharitably
anti-academic, but I feel I must point out that not all academics are
old or wear cardigans. One might even concede that even those who are
old ought not necessarily to be criticized for it.

The vast bulk of the best electroacoustic music (and the worst,
regrettably) produced over the last 50 years has been created in
academic institutions, or those (like the GRM) which would be seen by
some as academic. Of course DIY techno-dance-elektro made by DJ Noiz in
a bedroom in Trafford is obviously the way forward for electroacoustic
music, and who could doubt it (sorry Francis Dhomont, Denis Smalley,
Paul Lansky, Jean-Claude Risset, Stockhausen, Boulez, etc. etc.), but
surely us pitiful 'academics' (teachers and students) have the right to
continue the proud tradition of unPopular Music, while there is still
breath in our shrivelled, cardigan clad bodies.

It the *sound* that is analysed to produce the graphics, it is your ears
(and, please don't forget, mind) that analyse the *music*.

On the matter of sonographic analysis I use Audiosculpt (IRCAM)
screenshots pasted into a Photoshop document to make scores of my pieces
(sad, I know, but we academics just can't help ourselves). The
disadvantage is that (as far as I know) you can only have a linear
frequency scale, which is a pain.

Others may be interested to know that my boss, a Brahms scholar, is
currently using Audiosculpt sonographs to analyse early recordings of
Brahms piano music. See also Robert Cogan's 'New Images of Musical
Sound' (I hope that's right, I'm using my faulty memory) which looks at
analysis of acoustic music using (1980s) spectral graphics.

Dr Andrew Lewis Work: +44 1248 382188
Music Department Home: +44 1248 362308
University of Wales Bangor, UK Fax: +44 1248 370297

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