Acousmatic Composition 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
The word ‘acousmatic’ describes something we can hear but not see. Acousmatic Music is experimental sonic art which uses sound as its raw material, and multiple loudspeakers as its mode of delivery. It has been described as the art of projected sounds which is “shot and developed in the studio, projected in halls, like cinema”.
This module aims to develop your skills in acousmatic composition. It has a creative emphasis, and seeks to equip you with the basic technological, compositional and aesthetic knowledge and understanding necessary for acousmatic composition.
PLEASE NOTE: Students may not take Acousmatic Composition at both Level 5 and Level 6.
This module deals with the concepts, theories, tools and techniques necessary to compose acousmatic music. It brings together creative, aesthetic and technical studies, and introduces students to key repertoire in the genre through guided listening sessions.
Topics covered include: - what is acousmatic music; - recording source sounds; - developing sounds; - understanding the Sound Object; - sound development tools; - using pitch; - acousmatic gesture; - working with texture; - articulation; - montage; - using space; - working in multiple channels.
Excellent (A): The distinguishing quality is the creation of a compelling, engaging and aesthetically satisfying overall outcome through sustained musical imagination and technical command The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a coherent, tightly constructed global structure; a cogent, convincing and sustained musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of the full potential of musical ideas and materials; musical ideas conceived and articulated with evident flair and imagination, and some degree of originality; an entirely appropriate (but not necessarily equal) balance of unity and diversity, such that interest and coherence are sustained throughout; distinctive, creative and idiomatic use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; confident, fluent and discerning use of appropriate technical means; evidence of acute sensitivity to the effectiveness of, and assured control over, the shaping of phrases and gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, and the combination, juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; impressive presentation, with excellent attention to detail and full consideration of the practicability of performing materials (whether for live performance or the realization of electroacoustic presentation).
Good (B): The distinguishing quality is the creation, technical realisation and organisation of imaginative musical ideas to create an aesthetically convincing overall outcome. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a well articulated and effective global structure; a clearly discernible musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of musical ideas and materials; imaginatively conceived and articulated musical ideas; unity and diversity well balanced, such that the composition achieves a good degree of interest and coherence; appropriate and effective use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources contributing to creative ends; assured use of appropriate technical means; good sensitivity to the shaping of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, showing an appreciation of their overall effect on the musical outcome; presentation of a good standard, with good attention to detail and some evident consideration of the practicability of performing materials.
Threshold (D): The crucial element is the creation of musical ideas. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a simplistic or over-complex global structure not supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; musical argument only intermittently discernible with only limited exploration of materials; musical ideas few and/or of questionable value; an imbalance in unity and diversity at the expense of sustained interest (especially through uncritical repetition of material verbatim); variability in the appropriateness of the use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique restricted to a rather basic level; some basic, though not always successful, attempts to achieve musical shaping and control of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; mostly adequate presentation, though with some significant lapse, and materials that may need some revision to be of practical use in performance.
- To apply an understanding of acousmatic music theory and concepts to creative work.
- To articulate and communicate musical ideas effectively through the medium of acousmatic sound.
- To compose with creative imagination.
- To evaluate one's own work critically.
- To work effectively with sonic materials and resources.
- To work effectively with the tools and techniques of the composition studio.
Coursework 1 - Recording and Developing Sources
Coursework 2 - Gesture, texture and articulation
Main Assignment - Acousmatic Composition