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Today composers have a variety of sounds at their disposal and with the advancements of technology it is no wonder that composers would turn to electronic means for producing music. However, this leaves the listener with unmapped terrains of sound, rich in complexity, and calls for new listening strategies in order to begin to understand how electronic pieces "work." This dissertation presents a phenomenological approach to analyzing electronic music by incorporating the experiential perspective of the listener, and also incorporates psychological perceptual aspects based on Gestalt principles. Drawing on a phenomenological approach is viable for the analysis of electronic music because in most cases a score is not available for the listener, as is the case with traditionally notated works. This approach aims to decipher how sonic events are defined and heard within an individual composition, since the sound palette available to a composer within this genre has grown to enormous portions. Once sonic events are identified within a composition, the listener can then investigate the formal structure, providing a deeper understanding of the work. The first chapter provides an overview of electronic music including a brief history of the genre, analytical consideration of electronic works, and analyses that incorporate a phenomenological approach. The second chapter describes the concept of phenomenology and explains how the listener can incorporate this type of analytical approach, which includes investigating factors that cause the listener to segment musical events. The third chapter discusses the identification of sonic events, and divides them into two main categories – events that incorporate the aspect of musique concrète, including the voice, traditional instruments, and found objects as sound sources, and events that are derived purely by electronic means. This chapter provides brief analyses of selected works that illustrate various ways composers employ sonic events that fall into the two main categories mentioned. The fourth chapter provides complete analyses of six works mentioned in the previous chapter, illustrating how the listener can identify sonic events, categorize them, and create a listening score, which in turn aids in investigating the formal structure of the work. The final chapter offers general conclusions regarding electronic works based on the analyses presented.
Electronic Music, Music, Music and Phenomenology, Phenomenology
Date of Defense
March 31, 2009.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Evan Allan Jones, Professor Directing Dissertation; Russel M. Dancy, Outside Committee Member; Jane Piper Clendinning, Committee Member; Mark Wingate, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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