Eldad Tsabary

Understanding Analysis of EA Music through Aural Training Pedagogy

This paper will focus on questions relating to how we hear and listen to electroacoustic (EA) music by discussing the question “what do we teach in training students’ ears in the context of EA studies?” Dedicated courses in EA aural training are quite rare in college and university programs. In reality, many EA educators introduce specialized aural skills within compositional or analytical contexts, but without the methodical, rigorous repetition necessary for acquiring skills. In 2005, the Music Department of Concordia University in Montreal spearheaded a new aural training course with its undergraduate EA majors, influenced by fundamental concepts from studies of Auditory Scene Analysis (ASA), primarily integration and segregation as defined by Bregman (1990). ASA is the process of perceiving auditory evidence and sorting it into packages that belong to separate happenings (or streams). This process involves integrating (grouping) auditory evidence, both sequentially and simultaneously, into streams, while segregating these streams from other simultaneous or sequential happenings. To develop structural flexibility of aural focus, Concordia’s ear training courses are designed as a yearlong scan from microstructure (segregation) to macrostructure (integration), organized loosely into three stages: (1) segregation (or segmentation) of sonic content in order to improve students’ ability to perceive aural detail in EA music, environmental sound, and all other sonic stimuli; (2) integration of perceived sound components into higher level formations (sequences and simultaneous groups); and (3) analysis, description, memory, and organization of multiple auditory streams into larger structures and textures, for the purpose of deriving musical meanings from them. In this presentation, I will discuss the aural parameters EA students at Concordia learn to hear, and how these parameters are incorporated into higher level analytical models.