ï~~TEXTURAL COMPOSITION: IMPLEMENTATION OF AN INTERMEDIARY AESTHETIC Dr. Kerry L. Hagan Centre for Computational Musicology and Computer Music Department of Computer Science and Information Systems University of Limerick, Ireland kerry.hagan@ul.ie ABSTRACT An approach to the creation of musical material, coined here as "textural composition," addresses aesthetic consequences of real-time stochastic sound mass composition. Musical texture as source material exists between sound-object (singular) and sound-objects (plural), inducing an aesthetic of the intermediary. Since sound diffusion is inextricably linked to composition, spatialization requires an approach conducive to the textural composition environment. This method of spatialization falls in an intermediary zone between point-source diffusion and the mimetic trajectory- or path-based spatialization informed by psychoacoustic principles. The aesthetic discussion is followed by the technical details of the author's work, real-time tape music III, a realization of textural composition. 1. INTRODUCTION Dialectics may describe acousmatic music and its use of acoustic space, i.e., its diffusion through loudspeakers. On the one hand, there are sound-objects delineated by characteristic spectromorphologies; on the opposing extreme, indistinguishable elements comprise ' 2. soundscapes. On one side, mimetic spatialization techniques dissimulate the loudspeakers to serve the illusion of movement and location. On the other side, point-source compositions embrace the loudspeakers as electromagnetic instrumentalists whose agency is fundamental to the composition. However, intriguing musics occur in the ambiguous mean between opposing points. If a gradient exists, intermediate elements become a third thing, as grey is neither black nor white. If the continuum is perceived categorically, then the 1 The definition of acousmatic used here includes all visually sourceless electroacoustic music preoccupied with image-in-sound, sound-objects, and musical and acoustic spaces. This extends the definition beyond electroacoustic music fixed on a medium; real-time computer-generated music may be acousmatic provided it employs the same approaches to sound. 2 Soundscape used here refers to the extreme "lo-fl" soundscape described by Murray Schafer and discussed by Simon Emmerson [2] and not the environmental compositions of the World Soundscape Project [6]. midpoint becomes a fragile edge where substance appears to flip or flutter between extremes. In particular, two intermediary positions, one in musical material and the other in spatialization, tender a fecund ground for development. In material, texture mediates between sound-objects and soundscape in a precarious boundary between both, suggesting a categorical perception of either. In spatialization, a gradient exists, where a third spatialization objective arises from intermediate domains: maximal mobility with minimal psychoacoustic cohesiveness of trajectory or location. The development and refinement of these intermediary aesthetics resulted in the work real-time tape music III, a real-time computer-generated composition. The technical implementation of this work provides an example of working within intermediate terrains. 2. TEXTURAL COMPOSITION The qualities associated with sound-objects are metaphors from vision, taction, or corporality: volume, size, texture, mobility, etc. In fact, the very notion of a sound-object is a metaphor, however utilitarian. Metaphors intrinsically provide rich fields for continua since they often imbue ambiguity. The sound-object metaphor must be explored firstly. Then, it can be seen how the metaphor of texture can mediate sound-object(s) and soundscape. When the focus of composition centers on texture at the expense of other sonic qualities, one is no longer simply composing a texture. One is creating a textural composition, at which point the rich and varied world of musical texture may be developed. In this paper, "textural composition" is the practice of working with musical texture and subjugating other musical qualities for the express purpose of creating a sonic space on the boundary between sound-objects and soundscape. 2.1. Sound-Object - Sound Mass - Sound Monolith The ontology of an object presupposes that it has boundaries distinguishing it from other objects. The metaphor of the sound-object exists because the qualities and gestalt behaviors of a sound's time-varying frequency spectrum distinguish it from the frequencies
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