Composer's Statement

List of Works

Public Performances

Performance Collaborations




Research, Writing & Publications

Stimulus Complexity and Time Judgments

In my endeavour to try and understand the main mechanisms of time perception in electroacoustic music, I explored complexity and how it can affect our experience of timescales and passing of time. This experience ultimately influences our understanding of structures and balancing of sections, our appreciation of gestural and textural development, and the interconnection of concurrent, near and remote events. For the purpose of this research, important papers in time perception written mainly by cognitive psychologists have been examined, and relations to music perception were drawn. A list of situations where complexity may occur in electroacoustic music, with an emphasis on acousmatic music, has been compiled. The relationship between complexity and psychological time is followed by an examination of complexity related to various parameters of sound.

This paper was presented at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC 2011) in Huddersfield in August 2011, and it is published in the Proceedings of the conference.

The Perception of Timescales in Electroacoustic Music

PhD thesis, defended successfully in January 2011 (outright pass with no corrections).
Supervisor: Emeritus Prof. Denis Smalley; External examiner: Prof. John Young; Internal examiner: Dr Miguel Mera.


The purpose of this doctoral research is to explore the nature and perception of timescales in electroacoustic music, to examine modes of experiencing time, and to discover a method that uses this knowledge to the advantage of the composer. Although the main focus is on acousmatic works, much of the research presented here has a broader scope and is relevant to music and sound art in general. 

This thesis is initially inspired by Deleuze’s philosophical views on time to discover relationships between the flow of time and music, and continues to investigate time perception by exploring prevalent theories in the fields of psychology and psychoacoustics. In parallel, it identifies and systematically analyses a set of factors that influence time perception and the formation and segregation of timescales. Theoretical analysis, hypotheses and reasoning were practically tested in the five electroacoustic pieces composed for this particular research.

The study revealed and reinforced the importance of psychological time in perception and interpretation of structures in music, developed the idea of using parallel temporal forms in composition, and through an exploration of timescales, it necessitated a redefinition of microsound. Moreover, an analysis of extrinsic and intrinsic factors that affect our perception of time and thus our interpretation of a musical work reinforced the notion of acousmatic music as a holistic experience that comprises all its surrounding elements at the time of listening.

This research is useful for both the composer and the analyst because it offers insights into time structures, and a better understanding of the listener’s response to temporal constructs. 

Temporal Associations, Semantic Content, and Source Bonding

Inspired by Denis Smalley's theoretical ideas on spectromorphology and Albert Bregman's auditory scene analysis, I started an investigation into the formation and segregation of timescales in electroacoustic music. This research inevitably led me to an exploration of the factors that shape our perception of time passing and estimation of durations, where spectromorphological issues intermingle with extra-musical associations, autobiographical experiences, emotional responses, and the surrounding environment at the time of listening. Ultimately, time perception affects the structural balance of a composition. This paper examines how the perception of time is affected by the semantic meaning and the spectromorphological characteristics of sound events.

The article is published in Organised Sound Vol.16 (1), in the issue dedicated to Denis Smalley's influence on the theory and practice of electroacoustic music. Date of publication April 2011.

Temporal Information and Source Bonding

Seminar presentation at City University, in April 2008. It explores temporal associations connected with sound material and is concerned mainly with the esthesic dimension, where meaning is constructed upon reception. It examines recognisable sound events, as well as remote surrogacy and the in-between stages of recognisability. Temporal qualities of specific sound events are studied, which generate a list of suggestive information implied by the associations of sounds. The idea of stimulus complexity and its relation to time judgements is also explored.

An Overview of Score and Performance in Electroacoustic Music

An analysis of notational systems and their relationship with electroacoustic music, and the function of the score for a performer, analyst and composer. References to acousmatic music, sound diffusion, electronic resources with live performers, computer-assisted performance and the UPIC system.

This article appears in the online journal eContact, issue 10.4 (2008), published by the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC).

Temporal Syntax and Time Structures

Seminar presentation at City University, in April 2007. It investigates structural organisation that carries temporal information, such as suggestions about pulse, speed and duration. It aims to identify and categorise the various levels of time structure that may take place in an electroacoustic piece, exploring the relationships among levels, and analysing the usefulness of this categorisation.

Perceptual Analysis of Sound at the Micro Level

Seminar presentation at City University, in March 2006. It explores the ambiguous nature of microsound identity, by investigating textural behaviour and source-bonding characteristics in the micro timescale. It also develops the idea of dependency of microevents on their neighbouring sound material, emphasising an ecological perspective of listening.

Physical and Psychological Timescales in Music

This paper investigates the perception of time in music and the behaviour of duration. It presents the timescales of absolute time, reasoning that listeners are only concerned with four timescales, those of macro, meso, sound object and micro. However, two sound events or two pieces of music which have identical physical duration can be perceived as having dissimilar psychological (experienced) durations. A metric system cannot be used for measuring psychological time, therefore an alternative system is proposed. This paper tries to identify factors which, when they interact with the physical timescales, produce different results in the psychological domain.

The paper was presented in the sonic arts symposium at the Science Museum's Dana centre in London during the Cybersonica international festival of music and sound, in April 2005.

The Flow of Time: Past, Present and Future

This paper investigates the nature and perception of time in music. It identifies that time can only be perceived through events and can be thought of as a collection of units and as a process of change. Drawing ideas from Deleuze's writings on cinema, it is suggested that time in music always reaches the listener through an apparatus, which gives special characteristics to time itself. Based on the psychologists' Pöppel and James studies on time experience, key temporal experiences are also identified as relevant to time perception in music. The attention is then drawn to the experience of the present and the ways it is recognised and perceived. The paper ends with a discussion on the experience of motion in music, and a brief summary of the key issues on musical time.

This has been presented in the Sonic Interactions conference on interactivity and sonic arts at Goldsmiths College in Feb 2005.

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Sophia, London

Recording and accompanying notes published in Earshot (the Journal of the UK and Ireland Soundscape Community - affiliated to the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology), issue No.4 (Dec 2003) on Time and Visibility II (essays on Sound and Architecture).

Stockhausen and Formel-Komposition

A review on Stockhausen's development and extension of serialism into the use of 'formulas' as a basis for his musical language. The gradual process that brought Stockhausen to the use of formulas as he worked his way progressively from the micro- to the macro-level is investigated.

The journey starts in the 1950s, when his compositions were characterized by an organization related to acoustical processes. Following references to the 1960s and the relaxed control of his compositions, the review culminates in the 1970s when Stockhausen concentrated on precisely notated compositions based on his concept of the 'formula'. Among the works examined are Mantra, Am Himmel wandre ich... (Indianerlieder), Inori and various sections from Licht (Die sieben Tage der Woche).

This article was published in NoiseGate magazine (2002, issue 9).


Vocal Production, Meaning and Universality: A Review of Throat Singing in Disparate Cultures

A number of disparate cultures display various similarities in vocal music production, which are explained in different ways according to the views of scholars. This dissertation examines a particular vocal technique, throat singing, which is found in cultures far apart from one another, and through an overview of the main styles of this technique, it attempts to locate and elucidate the similarities.

The dissertation starts with an introduction of the main styles and the methods of production of throat singing technique, referring also to the locations that these styles are found. Subsequently, it presents an overview of throat singing on selected regions and cultural groups, which include the nomads in Tuva and Mongolia, the Buddhist monks in Tibet and the Xhosa people in South Africa, as examples of overtone singing; while the Inuit in Canada and Ainu in Russia demonstrate the 'panting style' of throat singing technique. The following chapter comprises a synopsis of the various theories regarding the issue of universals in music by various scholars, which include Dale Harwood and his approach to the topic from the point of view of 'information processing', Alan Lomax and his definition and use of cantometrics, and the universalist, diffusionist and phylogenetic explanations of similarities between distant cultures by Jean-Jacques Nattiez.The final chapter culminates into the conclusion of the dissertation.

The Role of Music in Australian Aboriginal Society: Social and Technical Aspects

An introduction to the different areas of Australia is followed by an overview of the Aboriginal myths and religion and their connection with music, which eventually leads to an exploration of ceremonies. The song as a component of a ritual, its religious associations and origins are then explored, introducing the ritual performance, its main categories, and the instruments used.

Subsequently, a brief examination of the educational system places music in a social context, examining the significance of song in the Australian Aboriginal culture. The song is examined first from a technical point of view, and second through an investigation of extra-musical information provided by its components, and the different meanings of song texts. The project ends with a brief overview of the problems of Aboriginal music after the encounter of the indigenous people with the European settlers, and the value of music for the Australian Aborigines.

The Mechanisms of Musical Expression

It explores the question of whether music is expressive, and if so, how its mechanisms of expression work. After briefly considering and eliminating the idea that music is a language capable of conveying a meaning, the author tries to locate the emotion in the composer, the listener and the musical work itself. The study presents popular views and theories on the dynamic character of music, it speculates on the use of connotations and metaphors, and points out the possibility of deception in emotive content and the role of titles and programme notes in musical works. Moreover, it suggests that there are forces of expression in music working in parallel, and that the listener's focus depends on the perceptual position.


e-mail: Aki Pasoulas
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