Lasse Thoresen

Aural Analysis of Emergent Musical Forms.  A Gestalt-oriented Approach to Musical Analysis

During the last half century, a sound-based music, as opposed to an interval-based one, has been emerging. The lack of consensus around what is pertinent for the formation of a syntax within sound-based music, has made this music accessible to only a small circle of specialist listeners and practitioners. Our approach to analysis (‘Aural Sonology’) came about very much as a response to the challenge of the lack of syntactical musical conventions. If syntax be defined as a way to prolong the listener’s experience of a moment within a musical discourse and as the means of ordering what he hears, then a possible way to meet this challenge is to seek out models of aural organisation that in some evident way discloses a sound-pattern, i.e. a Gestalt. Our methodological assumption is that anything that is perceived as ordered can be described as structure. 

The Aural Sonology Project has therefore been concerned with the identifications of musical gestalts, which on some level of the musical discourse present themselves as evident to the listener. The research is grouped into isotopies. On the level of form-building we have identified and elaborated five such isotopies: Time-fields (segmentation of successive units), Layers (simultaneous units), Dynamic Forms (directional, basically energetic patterns), Form-building Processes (recurrence, variation, and contrast), Form-building Transformations (patterns of complex vs. simple, fission vs. fusion, proliferation vs. collection, partitioning vs. integration etc.).
To aid the presentation of the analysis, we have had a useful collaboration with INA-GRM in order to make a Plug-In for their Acousmograph program.  After a brief presentation of some analytical signs via power-point, the session will end by showing a few examples of the application of the analysis to sound-based music on the Acousmograph.