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
This paper was presented at the International Computer Music
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.