Task 4. Acousmatic Music.

Report for Task 3: A short Sound Poem.


The objective for this final task was to take a very common and recognizable everyday sound and transform it into something that is almost completely devoid of any previous associations.

-Adopted Composing Approaches:

For my fourth and final task, I chose to adopt a similar approach used by Jonty Harrison in his piece EQ (1980) of taking a recorded sound and creating impulses from that sound by way of using slow grains of audio. This is something I feel works particularly well in Harrison’s piece as it disassociates these new sounds from the source material whilst baring a similar relationship in timbre, which is heard in my track between 0:30″ and 0:42″. Although this method of warping an audio sample shares a common relationship with Glitch music, it also appears in other examples of Acousmatic work such as Alistair MacDonald’s Kilim (1993) at around 0:12″ and 0:42″. This also works well when coupled with strange spatial reverb effects, like those heard also in Kilim at around 4:36″. For this I have used the Space Designer plug-in in Logic Pro 9 with the ‘BPM-Twisting Gears’ preset and can be heard towards the end of my piece between 0:56″ and 1:10″.

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

An audio technique used in this task I have not used before was the Grain Streamer plug-in by Michael Norris for spectral analyzing and granular synthesis. This was used on all audio throughout my piece along with heavy automation of the ‘Grain Length’ and ‘Freeze Probability’ parameters of the plug-in. This plug-in is what allowed me to create movements and textures out of miniature grains of audio so that they may be used to completely remove the association between the original audio and its source, which is one of the fundamental principles of Acousmatic music. Pierre Schaeffer touches on this subject when referencing the Larousse dictionary with regards to the term Acousmatics in that it ‘…is said of a noise that one hears with out seeing what causes it’. (Schaeffer, 2006, pp.77)

-Note one particular music technique learned through this task.

One particular music technique that I have learned through this task is the ability to generate fluid glissandi motions from everyday recorded sounds in order to create a downwards or upwards pitching tone, which can be best heard in my track between 0:06″ to 0:20″ and also between 0:50″ to 1:10″.

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

This task is an example of practice as research because I have created a piece that has come from the knowledge attained from exploring Acousmatic works, such as EQ (Harrison, J) and Kilim (Macdonald, A). The piece then adopts composing techniques found in these pieces such as disassociating the newly created sounds from the source material whilst attempting to retain similar textural qualities and timbre.

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

I would award myself a mark of a 2:1 for this task as I believe I have fulfilled the criteria in the task objective, which is evident in my piece as it incorporates my researched techniques and demonstrates them clearly with a structured and coherent compositional direction which shows an accurate expression of what I feel the task criteria requires.

Word Count. 504


  • Harrison, J (1996) EQ on Klang: Electroacoustic Collection Vol. 1 (CD). UK: NMC.
  • MacDonald, A (1996) Kilim on Klang: Electroacoustic Collection Vol. 1 (CD). UK: NMC.

~ by J.E.R.U. on March 15, 2011.

One Response to “Task 4. Acousmatic Music.”

  1. Using the same sounds throughout was a good idea for this piece and it’s good that you thin out for a pause and come back. You’ve got some directionality / shape to your ticking bits that change over time, which is good. You may want to carry that even further, like having the impulses speed up until it become a single sound and then maybe come back.

    Your writeup is good

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