Electroacoustic Composition

Task 1 of Electroacoustic Composition

For this task we had to explore hidden sounds of a chosen object. We had to use microphones close to an object to find and capture any hidden sounds that would not normally be heard.

The composer who’s approach I adopted was Pierre Schaeffer, creator of Music Concrete.  I listened to all five of  ”Etude aux Objets” listening to how he manipulates the audio into his concrete music.  I discovered that he explored the use of speed to manipulate a samples pitch and duration. A samples envelope was also experimented with by controlling a mixer’s volume to cut off certain parts of its attack or release.  For my piece I tried to adopt this approach, at 0.45 you can hear how through volume automation I gave the impression of the water drop’s envelope to have a quicker attack whereas at other points you hear the ‘true’ envelope of the sample. Throughout my piece I used speed as a tool to control pitch and duration such as at point 0.15 where the water has been slowed down which gave the impression of the water moving in slow motion.

How I structured the piece was by creating a clear transformation process to help the listener determine selected sections. The piece contains a context of water passing from a sink through its inner piping and then back out. I wanted to capture this movement through the parts of the pipe by  simulating the use of the pipe’s acoustics, using short plate reverb to achieve a metallic sound. Panning sources was also used to animate a particular sound from one part of the stereo spectrum to another.

I had never before within logic used the time stretching feature where samples could be shorted or elongated accurately without loosing sample quality

A music technique that I used through doing this task was thinking about the pieces dynamic structure carefully, with full regard to past stylistic approachs such as Pierre Schaffer’s contrast of dynamics with samples through for example combining two contrasting sounds which cutoff to silence.

Listening to selected works of Schaffer and reading such books such as  Audio Culture with his manifesto ‘Acoustmatics’ I was able to understand  more to what Music Concrete was as a genre as well as how the technology at the time of his works were used to the best of what was available. How I have constructed the piece was through careful understanding how the pieces were arranging with specially effort to limit myself to the basic tools of that era.

I would say I would get a 60 as I created a piece that has a clear structure with stylistic traits of Pierre Schaffer’s techniques, whilst still trying to make the piece original in the sounds used and the context of which the piece contains.

Word count:  467



Schaeffer, Pierre (1998). L’Œuvre musicale (Volume 3) Etude Aux Objets [CD] UK. INA-GRM/EMF


N/A. (N/a). Pierre Schaeffer. Available: http://www.amhiggins.ie/artefact2004/pages/schaeffer.htm. Last accessed 2/5/2011.


Schaeffer, P. (2004). Acousmatics. In: Cox,C. and Warner, D. Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music . London: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 76-82.

Task 2 For Electroacoustic Composition

My objective with creating this task was to compose a piece that could of been played at a Britten Young Guide to Electronic Sounds, with an influence of a particular well acclaimed electroacoustic artist.

My influence for this task was Edgard Verese. A piece in which I adopted some of his synthesiser techniques was ‘Poeme Electronique’. For my piece I used the four basic waveforms; Sine, Square, Sawtooth and Triangle waves. He uses raw waveforms to which he then morphs using filters, adsr envelopes, panning and combining waveforms together. A main technique that he uses is additive synthesis. This is where from  the layering of different waveforms other harmonics can be achieved with its fundemental frequency (f1) being multiplied over and over; f1, f2, f3, f4, f5.Another one of his techniques in which I adopted was the use of  variating pitch. At parts of the track such as at 2.38′ where we hear an ascending and descending pitch I used this for my piece as a way of cresendoing certain passages into silence. Another technique he incorperates is the use of random staccato notes from a modified ADSR.  The way they are placed are also in a random area of the audio spectrum often creating an element of surprise to where the sounds will appear and in what mass of note cluster.

One audio technique I used was the use of creating my own synths from scratch using ES1 & ES2 with their basic waveforms creating additive synths that had similar stylistic traits to Edgard Verese.

I learnt with this task how to structure sounds more. Being a very experimental genre meant there weren’t many boundaries to work against, specially when working within a sequencer rather than tape. Through listening to the selected piece I was able to structure sounds in a way that would allow silence and dramatic build ups rather than just having a constant ‘bed’ of sounds.

I think this is a good practice as research as I have looked at ‘Poeme Electronique’ analysing a few of the parts  I particularly like and then applying them to my composition, trying to keep to the boundaries of the available synth noises that could of been created at the time of the 50s.  Also the simulation of the event I had to re-create for electronic instrumentation rather than orchestra was done so that through a bit of a research I could find out the structure of the performance and how to cue noises with a robotic voice as a narrator.

I would give myself a 60-63 mark for this as I have tried to more accurately and in more detail look into synth techniques then applying this to my composition to make it as stylistic as possible to Edgard Verese.

Word Count: 461



N/A. (N/a). Edgar Varese Biography. Available: http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Varese_Edgar.html. Last accessed 15/2/2011.

N/a. (2011). The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra op. 34. Available: http://www.brittenpears.org/?page=britten%2Frepertoire%2Fresults.html&work=185&submit=Find+Now. Last accessed 15/2/2011.


Holmes, Thom (2002). Electronic and Experimental Music Technology, Music, and Culture. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge. 173-204.


Verese, Edgard. (1958). OHM+: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music [Disc 1].N/A

Task 3: Sound Poetry

My objective was to create a piece that politically reflected a current issue in Libya’s struggle against Colonel Gaddafi expressing the killing, manipulation and propaganda in which surrounds this political war. The piece was constructed from techniques used by Paul DeMarinis in a hope to compose a piece that is stylistically similar to his works ‘Cincinnati’ and ‘The Power of Suggestion’.

I wanted to use Paul DeMarinis two tracks “Cincinnati’ and ‘The Power of Suggestion’ as a way of making my piece successful in reflecting a political message as well as engaging the listener into a uneasy and uncomfortable state of mind. To me the piece that really captured this was “The Power of Suggestion”. This piece used a robotic voice in tie with fast frequency modulated sounds that created a huge contrast when accompanied with the spoken text about death. I tried to adopt this approach by using a layer of a relaxing fm synth pad against the robotic speech. The spoken text from Paul DeMarinis is vocoded, so much so that it can be unclear on what the robot is saying. This brings the listener closer to the material to try and depict the vocal speech in a way they understand its context and reasoning. The vocal text I used was a recording from a news report from Youtube about the Libya war. I used a synthesizer underneath this vocoded passage as a way of making it more difficult to interpret the vocals. I also found it added a sense of menace using uncomforting notes that form a dissonant set of frequencies that are structured in a drone like manner throughout the piece.

For my spoken text I heavily vocoded the sample with this effect in mind removing through the vocoder dissonances and affecting the vocoders attack and release as a way of making parts of the speech more harder or easier to understand.

This was the first time I had used a vocoder within Logic 9 and through the learning of the use of sidechaining and editing the vocoder parameters accordingly.

A music technique I used was the use of spacing of material. I felt that often my music seems to have a constant amount of layers rather than space and so for this task as well as the previous ones I have tried to use silence as much as a tool.

The problem I wanted to overcome was how to create a piece that would reflect a political statement effectively with the use of combining electronic speech and electronic instrumentation. How I feel I met this objective was by listening to other works, looking into the political background of others pieces i.e ‘Come out” by steve reich and seeing how the political aspect influenced the composer to create pieces of impact.

I would give myself a 2:1 for this task as I have created a piece that stylistically represents the chosen composer, implementing some of the techniques he used and using a political subject that would seem current and well chosen to illustrate the process of creating sound text poetry.

Word Count: 510



Finch, Peter. (2003). Sound Poetry in the UK. Available: http://www.57productions.com/article_reader.php?id=11. Last accessed 8/3/2011.

n/a. (n/a). Bob Cobbing, 1920-2002. Available: http://www.petermanson.com/cobbing.htm. Last accessed 8/3/2011.

n/a. (n/a). Untitled ‘brief statement about Paul DeMarinis’. Available: http://www.well.com/~demarini/. Last accessed 8/3/2011.


De Marinis, P (1991)  Music as a Second Language(CD). USA: Lovely Music.

Task 4 Acousmatic Piece

The task for this piece was to create an acousmatic track that uses some form of influence from a selected artist from their technique and practice.

My influence for this piece was Jonty Harrison specifically his track ‘Klang’. For my composition I wanted to re-create some of pitch and resonant effects digitally with the plugins from Michael Norris.  The material’s source was a sample from Freesound.org of a small gong.  From just using this one sample I wanted to see through these audio processing effects what new sounds could be created.  Within Klank you hear the samples being pitched (digitally or though how the dish was played) and so to use this in my piece I used ‘Spectral Shifting’ as a way to achieve glitch free pitch shifting. The pitch shifting can be heard at 5.48’ of ‘Klang’ in particular. The pitches are ascending and descending at a quick rate often being pitched to an extreme amount to remove any characteristics of its original sound.  I used this erratic pitching in my piece, an instance would be at; 1.32’. Another technique I used was to simulate the use of close micing the resonance of the instrument.  As I just had sample I replicated the resonance drone by using several ‘Spectral Harmonizers’  in which contain different harmonics to give an impression of different size dishes. Another part I wanted to replicate was at 4.12’ where we hear a pulsing sound. I re-created this by using some of the resonance and putting it through a ‘Spectrum Pulse’ plugin, which would give me control over the pulses min and max duration. Structure was a part that I wanted to really focus on to make the piece as successful as possible. I noticed that the track ‘Klang’ has a structure of a simple A,B,A layout which I decided to use on my own piece. In ‘Klang’ the part called ‘A’ contains raw sound with manipulation of its character through live interaction. The next contrasting part (‘b’) has a vast amount of audio manipulation effects that bring the sound into strange ambient overtones with specific repetitive instances of pitch manipulations of the original sample. The ‘A’ part is then repeated focusing on the resonance of the dishes, which ends the piece in a drone like state.

An new audio technique I used was the use of applying Michael Norris’s plugins to samples and editing them in realtime with automation.

This is practice as research as by using the Michael Norris effects I could accurately recreate some of Jonty Harrison’s sound manipulations digitally with now a greater understand of how one sound can be manipulated digitally to create hundreds of new sounds that could have no sonic qualities of its original.

I feel this task is a 60% as I have created a piece that focuses stylistically of ‘Klang’ by Jonty Harrison with a huge amount of practice as research into creating a piece that sonically has similar traits in regard to sound manipulation and structure.

Word count: 500



N/A. (n/a). Jonty Harrison — Klang. Available: http://www.sfsound.org/tape/Harrison.html. Last accessed 4/5/2011.



Electroacoustic Major Task 1:

For this piece I wanted to create a composition that fused both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and to be influenced by a particular track and artist to aid me in both a compositional approach to the technique and structure.

For this track I was influenced by the artist ‘Mario Davidosky’ with his track ‘Synchronims No.1’. I wanted to create a piece that used flute in a similar approach to combining electronic sounds but make it more minimal with greater subtle electronic gestures. I loved how with ‘Synchromins No.1’ how he made combining acoustic and electronic sound effective.From listening to the track I was fascinated with how electric sounds of a similar tone and pitch were mimicking the flutes gestures. The piece for me is almost like a transformation piece morphing back and forth from acoustic to electronic and so I thought I could do my own version of this track. I used flute trill samples and made the electronic sounds act as a crescendo with the ascending flute parts in particular.  The sources chosen ranged from everyday sounds to synth sounds. The everyday sound sources were used to closely copy the flutes rhythmic contours whereas the synths were used for pitched type contours.I wanted to create a synth specifically at the start that mimicked the trill sound of the flute. I used es1 in Logic and combined a triangle waveform and a square waveform. Once the ‘hollow’ sound was created I then added a trill effect by using the LFO to control the pitch to an amount that seemed similar to the flute sample’s trill. This synth was then used throughout my piece as a way of copying certain flute phrasing often slightly out of sync to allow spatial spacing of the two similar textures.

A new audio technique I used was the use of having several layers of flute sounds then mixing between the different tracks to create a collage of different flute playing styles throughout the piece.

A music technique I learnt was the use of gesture of an acoustic instrument through variation ,playing style, pitch, duration and spatial position.

This is practice as research as by using different flute playing techniques I could combine electronic sounds using the flute as a guide to how the electronic sounds would ‘react’ to certain flute gestures whether by pitch or playing technique. A sound’s gesture was experimented with by using audio processing such as time stretching and pitch shifting as a way of crafting such reactive sounds.

I would give myself a 60% as I feel through adapting some of Mario Davidosky’s composition techniques I have constructed a piece that uses variating gestures that intertwine both from electronic and acoustic sounds.  I found that the gestures within the piece both show how effective this combination can be and that it can create interesting new textures in which make the flute can stand a lot more as a solo part to the piece.

Word Count: 494



Davidovsky J (n/a Davidovsky/ Sollberger: Chamber Works (CD). UK: New World Records

Electroacoustic Major Task 2:

My objective for this task was to create a modern Music Concrete piece using source sounds from a computer’s inner/outer parts.  Exploring how a structure of these selected sounds can be used to create a convincing narrative.

For my final task I wanted to create a Music Concrete piece. I wanted to incorporate from what I have learnt about music concrete through the works of Pierre Shaeffer but as the objective states; through a modern angle in terms of the chosen sound sources. Pierre Schaeffer’s work’s are structured by his sounds being glued with contrasting samples together creating a complex sound texture that changes dynamics in several forms which in most cases has no clear layout. These sounds in which he chooses are extremely diverse, but it’s this diversity that makes his work unsuspecting in how it will develop.

For my piece I have sourced material from a variety of computer and synthesized sounds i.e ‘bleeps’. How there are structured is through a narrative of the various elements of a computer. These parts are broken down into clear sections. It’s a journey in which we hear the various states in which a computer would go through when connecting to the Internet is mostly though my own interpretation. Once I had this angle I then placed the sounds in a fashion in which would simulate these certain sections. This was in combination with using audio processing effects, volume and panning to have control over the animation of each sound as the piece develops. The piece itself contains moments of bursts of sounds that seem quick and diverse in changing texture to other sections where parts are more sparse and drone like creating also an environment piece in which sounds slowly change from transition to another.

A new sequencer technique I used was automating several parameters at once using a ‘hands on approach’ by using my midi keyboard pot controls to control selected parameters through the ‘learn’ tool in logic 9.

This is practice as research because I feel through creating a clear narrative it gave me a way of structuring the piece so that sounds could be placed with a sense of order. As I have found with structuring any piece of electroacoustic music it’s structure plays an integral role in how effective the piece is.

For this task I would give myself a 60% as I feel I have created a piece that uses sound in a manner in which it was influenced by music concrete whilst still retaining a original outcome to which would seem very different to music concrete’s original works. The result of the piece as a whole to conclude is minimal, with my choice of sounds being very particular and selective into an attempt to creating a realistic piece that sonically illustrates my narratives progression over time.

Word Count: 471

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