Pascal Terrien/Nicolas Marty

The Explicitation Interview, Analyzing the Dynamics of Electroacoustic Music Listening

The explicitation interview is a method developed by Vermersch (1994) to study the actual unfolding of an action. Many studies using this method are involved in pedagogy – although there has been one study by Petitmengin et al. (2009) regarding the act of listening to sound excerpts. Contrary to common methods to study listening behaviors, the explicitation interview allows one to analyze the dynamics of listening: a sound is not heard all at once, it progressively unfolds in perception.

The explicitation interview is concerned with leading the listener towards the detailed description of his/her actual experience – rather than a metaphoric recounting of what s/he heard. This presentation will first consist in an overview of the interview structure, as well as of the method designed by Vermersch (2012) to extract data relevant to the lived experience out of the maelstrom of the interviewee’s discourse.
The second part of the presentation will be concerned with explaining how this kind of method might be relevant to musical analysis. This method allows us to meet both the epistemological and critical aesthetic aims of analysis (Mailman 2010). 1/ We might contemplate several analyses of the dynamics of a piece – i.e. the piece as it unfolds, with its hazards. We could also extract regularities in the data from the interviews, which might be a way to develop robust knowledge about the works that are listened to. 2/ Being informed about listening strategies may allow for a didactic analysis – i.e. an analysis seeking to define which indices (Deliège et al. 1998) or attributes (Le Ny 1975) may be relevant to the teaching of listening.

The final part of the presentation will be concerned with an analysis of Elizabeth Anderson’s Chat Noir (1998), drawn from several explicitation interviews concerning its first hearing by both electroacoustic music specialists and non-specialists.