Starting my research (13th-16th October)

Last week I began some preliminary reading from the following sources:

Hugill, A. (2008) The digital musician. London: Routledge (pp. 17-22).

Cox, C. and Warner, D. (2004) Audio culture: readings in modern music. London: Continuum.

Landy, L. (2007) Understanding the art of sound organization. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

I revised Pierre Schaeffer’s listening modes (‘Acousmatics’ fromĀ Audio Culture) and I will try to implement them as I go on to do some listening. I like the idea of listening to something while trying not to identify its sound-source (the sonorous object). I then read ‘Some Sound Observations (also from Audio Culture) by Pauline Oliveros. I find her writing interesting because it conjures up the sounds she is writing about in my head. I think the main thing I got from this reading is a new way of thinking about sound – the question “why can’t sounds be visible” resonated with me especially.

The main thing I picked up from the reading was the following principles (I found this in Understanding the art of sound organisation although it is attributed to R. Murray Schafer in the book):

  1. Listener recognisability of the source material is maintained even if it subsequently undergoes transformation
  2. The listener’s knowledge of the environment and psychological context of the soundscape material is invoked and encouraged to complete the network of meanings ascribed to the music
  3. The composer’s knowledge of the environmental and psychological context of the soundscape material is allowed to influence the shape of the composition at every level, and ultimately the composition is inseparable from some of all aspects of that reality
  4. the work enhances our understanding of the world, and its influence carries over into everyday perceptual habits

I re-read R. Murray Schafer’s ‘The Music of the Environment’ in Audio Culture and reminded myself of the principles of acoustic ecology and hi-fi/lo-fi sounds. This is an important philosophy in soundscapes: hi-fi and lo-fi sounds are essentially rural sounds and man-made sounds respectively. Acoustic ecologists believe that the hi-fi sounds are gradually being drowned out by the lo-fi sounds of the human world. Some of them wish to ‘document’ the disappearing natural soundscape.

Hildegard Westerkamp’s piece on Soundwalking is very interesting. I’d like to try going on a soundwalk myself as she instructs. I’d also like to try listening using Schaeffer’s acousmatic listening method while I do the soundwalk.

Following this reading I made note of some artists to listen to:

  • Barry Traux
  • Pauline Oliveros
  • R. Murray Schafer
  • Hildgard Westerkamp
  • Katharine Norman

I decided to leave my research there until I had been to Tony Myatt’s talk at my University (which included a soundscape performance by Tony and Chris Watson).