Task 2. Guide To Early Electronic Sounds.

Report for Task 2: Guide to early electronic sounds.


Benjamen Britten was planned to be commissioned to create a piece called The Young Person’s Guide to Electronic Music based on his Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1946) highlighting what sounds were newly available to composers. The objective for my task was to make a version of what he might have done, lasting between 1-3 minutes.

-Adopted Composing Approaches:

For this second task, I adopted the approach used by Gottfried Michael Koenig in his 1952 piece Terminus by layering up sine tones at different frequencies to create a more complex tone, which can be heard best in my piece at 1:22″. To add to this method of sounds creation, I also adopted the approach encouraged by Koenig when teaching his students of manipulating the amplitude of the sine waves manually, which can create much subtler changes in amplitude as apposed to implementing linear or exponential volume curves. Another approach used in my piece was that of using cut-up sung phrases or syllables, which were influenced heavily by the vocals found in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gesang Der Jünglinge (1955/56). These vocals were introduced to compliment the electronic sounds and add a slightly more human aspect to the piece and can be heard between 1:01″ and 2:11″.

-Note one particular audio technique you applied in this task not applied before:

One particular audio technique that I have not used before was to use the High Frequency Cut-0ff in the Channel EQ plug-in in Logic 9 with an attenuation of -48dB per octave on a vocal track, so that by manually altering the frequency of the cut-off, it gives the effect of creating different vowel sounds from those being sung, not unlike a guitar wah-wah pedal. This can be heard best in my piece at 1:17″.

-Note one particular music technique learned through this task.

Through this task, one particular music technique that I learned was the basic arrangement and composition of electronic sounds along with classically sung vocals. By manipulating some of the sounds with a similar pitch to that of the vocal audio, I learned to create strange and abstract clusters of pitched impulses that fit nicely with cut-up samples of sung phrases or syllables.

-In my view, how is this task an example of practice as research?

I feel that this task is a good example of practice as research because it involved looking further into the methods behind creating some of the sounds heard in examples of electronic music, such as Gottfried Koenig’s method of layering sine tones to create more interesting and complex sounds as heard in his piece Terminus. The task then encouraged me to further my academic research into this subject by recreating my own impressions of these sounds through practical research.

-Auto-evaluation: what mark would I give myself for this task and why.

For this task, I would award myself a mark possible in the realms of 60-65% because my piece shows that I have used my already existing knowledge and have endeavoured to develop it by exploring the theory and practices of creating and working with electronic sounds and demonstrates this through a track composed through my own originality. The piece is consistent and direct in its composition and also shows how I have structured a fairly accurate expression of how I have interpreted what the task objective required.

Word Count. 505


  • Britten, B (2008) The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra on Benjamin Britten – The Full Works:
(CD). UK: Edition Classic FM.
  • Koenig, G. M (2006) Terminus on Gottfried Michael Koenig (CD). Germany: Edition RZ.
  • Stockhausen, K. (1991) Gesang Der Jünglinge on Elektronische Musik (CD). Germany: Stockhausen-Verlag. 

~ by J.E.R.U. on February 8, 2011.

One Response to “Task 2. Guide To Early Electronic Sounds.”

  1. Putting the record crackle on the computer-generated speech is a nice touch. Frequency modulation was not actually a technique available in the early days, but your piece works really well and I don’t think you should change it. It’s also good that you decided to incorporate some singing. Did you say in class that you were inspired to do this by Babbitt?

    Your write up is good.

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