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Brümmer, L., “Why Is Good Electroacoustic Music So Good? Why Is Bad Electroacoustic Music So Bad?” Computer Music Journal, 1994, pp. 7-8
This journal talks about the general historical attitude towards electroacoustic music, like that of Pierre Schaeffer, and how that attitude changed through the decades. While being IN the future and seeing how electroacoustic music has influenced the art of sound recording and the way we listen to sounds, it’s interesting that it appears to be Elektronische Musik rather than Musique Concrète which has any kind of active presence in popular music today. At the time, electroacoustic music was seen as the future of music, even ‘futurism’! I’d argue this prediction was at least partially correct. As the journal discusses, the aesthetic of electroacoustic music is still a stark difference to the aesthetic of western classical music, with its emphasis on timbre rather than melody. And while using melody is still the popular way to write music, timbral composition is still considered ‘avant-garde’.
Burlingame, J., “Going Where No Scores Have Gone Before”, Variety; Los Angeles, Vol. 334, pp. 40-43, 2016
This source gives a fascinating insight into Arrival and Passengers, two science-fiction films made in 2016 with contemporary approaches to their scores, applied by Jòhann Jòhannsson and Thomas Newman respectively. It includes good quotes from the composers themselves which is rare for an academic paper; they have been interviewed specially for the article which means the quotes are specific to what the author wanted to discuss. The Arrival soundtrack was my topic of interest, but it was excellent to read about Newman’s music for Passengers too, which I remember having a really apt hybrid score. The melding of electronic techniques with more traditional orchestral recording seems to be the connection between the two soundtracks, which shows the persistent influence of electroacoustic music in contemporary music.
Chion, M., “Audio-Vision” Columbia University Press, 1994
This source could be considered the Bible of syncing audio to visuals. It is built upon years of experience in the field from Walter Murch, a highly respected sound designer, and Michel Chion, composer and film theorist. By approaching film sound from both a theoretical and a practical stance, it really helps to give the bigger picture. Chion’s main message is that sound design is so much more than finding sounds which fit what’s happening on screen; rather an art-form in itself where deliberate decisions can drastically affect how visuals are perceived. This book provides excellent examples and discussions about sound in film, and a lot of the ideas could be equally applied to sound in games too, had the book been written after the popularity and quality of video games had begun to challenge that of films.
De Reydellet, J., “Pierre Schaeffer, 1910-1995: The Founder of ‘Musique Concrète.’” Computer Music Journal, 1996, pp. 10–11
This source is important because it is a good brief summary of Musique Concrète and the life and works of Pierre Schaeffer. It serves as a good reminder of what acousmatic sound is all about, via a description of its origins, including a great quote from Schaeffer: “When I proposed the term (…) I intended (…) to point out an opposition with the way musical work usually goes. Instead of notating musical ideas on paper with the symbols of solfrège and entrusting their realisation to well-known instruments, the question was to collect concrete sounds (…) and to abstract the musical values they were potentially containing.” The text also lists Schaeffer’s most famous works (musical and literary), which will make for interesting listening and reading. Although the source is 22 years old, I believe it still holds merit for its mostly historical viewpoint – history, after all, doesn’t go out of date.
Gasselseder, H., “Re-sequencing the ludic orchestra: Evaluating the immersive effects of dynamic music and situational context in video games”, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2015
This statistical investigation dives into the psychology behind gaming and the effects of dynamic music upon the gaming experience. It tests numerous parameters for measuring enjoyment and arousal, such as ‘flow’ and ‘self location’, to ascertain the exact consequence of dynamic music upon players. The study compares existing dynamic music to two examples of non-dynamic music, one of low arousal potential and one of high arousal potential, and by so doing Gasselseder truly explores the issue in depth. The data collected and the psychological theory in the discussion of that data is particularly intriguing and brings more questions to the table for a later study. Gasselseder’s work and musings are thought-out and well reasoned, and crucially made me think differently about modern video game music and its capabilities. On that note, this source is relevant and contemporary, offering insight into the very latest in game audio mechanics.
Hoover, T., “Soundtrack Nation: Interviews with Today’s Top Professionals in Film, Videogame, and Television Scoring”, Course Technology PTR, 2010
Tom Hoover interviews sixteen audiovisual composing giants and presents the transcripts for a truly compelling insight into their work. The two which stood out to me were Greg Edmonson’s and Joby Talbot’s interviews. It was interesting to me that Greg admits that his video game composing experience really is limited, despite the fact that that’s what I know him for. This stresses that media composers have to be really adaptable to be able to pick up projects wherever possible, and do a good job on briefs even if they’ve never done anything similar before. Greg also talks at length about the main differences between the development of film and games and how the composing process adapts to each different medium. Joby talks about his work on League of Gentlemen and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, both of which are scores I love and was excited to read about.
Jordan, R., “Case Study: Film Sound, Acoustic Ecology and Performance in Electroacoustic Music”, Edinburgh Scholarship Online, 2007
This source presents a good discussion about the intention of electroacoustic music and whether or not acousmatic listening works in the context of visual media. Jordan argues that there is huge scope for how effective electroacoustic music could be for adding substance and meaning to the audiovisual experience, but there is however a bit of a debate about it which is raised too – mostly regarding the definition and objective of electroacoustic music. Pierre Schaeffer intended musique concrète to be listened to in a reduced way, but the addition of visuals distracts from that. We no longer listen to the sounds as purely just sounds, but either attach a source or semantic meaning to the sounds instead. There is also the question of technology – if electroacoustic music is heard on laptop speakers rather than loudspeakers as it was originally intended, you’re hearing the sounds a lot differently (tinnier, 2.1 stereo, etc) than the way they were recorded and edited, which ultimately goes against the original vision for electroacoustic music.
Klimmt, C., Possler, D., May, N., Auge, H., Wanjek L., Wolf, A., ‘Effects of soundtrack music on the video game experience’, Media Psychology, 2018
This is a brilliant and up-to-date study of the “enjoyment” of video games, as effected by the music. It thoroughly explores the psychology behind soundtrack music via a rigorous scientific investigation using two genres of game, measuring spatial presence and character identification as well as how much enjoyment/horror players experience while playing games with and without music. Though a thorough and relevant experiment, in my blog I am suggesting an even more in-depth study which treats all audio as part of the soundtrack, not just the music. Regardless, this cutting edge research supplies a perfect, well-rounded case to prove the importance of music on the video game experience.
Raine, M., “Writing For Production Libraries”, Canadian Musician, Vol. 36, 2014
This short source simplifies the finer points of advice for musicians interested in earning from production library music. The main point is that successful production library music is highly editable. It lists examples such as having a definite ending/resolution rather than a fadeout, lead instruments which don’t bridge over two different phrases, no tempo or key modulations, and a simple structure. As production library music is intended to be an ‘underscore’, it is also crucial that it isn’t too overbearing. All of these factors together, Raine explains, will make it attractive to TV producers because they can easily shoehorn the music into multiple situations, by simply cutting it up and editing it until it fits. The more malleable the track, the more people will buy it and feature it in their projects, and therefore the more revenue you will receive as a result.
Tapley, K., “Composers Cross the Sonic Barrier”, Variety; Los Angeles, Vol. 333, pp. 113-114, 2016
This source looks at the blur between music and sound design in films. The score for Arrival was my point of interest, but a few more are listed in the article such as Trent Reznor’s The Social Network (a fantastic contemporary score influenced by electronica) and Steven Price’s Gravity (harnessing sound manipulation techniques to the very extreme, not dissimilar to that of Musique Concrète). It contains some great quotes on the subject of the ‘sonic barrier’, mostly from composers who actually use such techniques to merge the arts of music and sound design together. The most powerful is this from Patrick Kirst: “the tradition that comes from a pitch-oriented score has been replaced by a sound-oriented world. Sound is not just a carrier of pitch anymore; it has its own character and personality.” This best conveys the current trend in film music.
Valiquet, P., “Hearing the Music of Others: Pierre Schaeffer’s Humanist Interdiscipline”, Music and Letters, Vol. 98, Oxford University Press, 2017
This source offers a wide perspective on Schaeffer’s theories and practices and their relation to not just electroacoustic music but sound in general and the human existence to an extent, but of most interest to me is the way it summarises Schaeffer’s four listening modes in a concise and straightforward way. If one wants to understand the basis of ‘ouïr’, ‘ècouter’, ‘comprendre’, and ‘entendre’ at a simplistic level, Valiquet gives basic translations, interpretations, and examples of what these concepts are and how they can be applied. It is stressed, however, that these modes are not to be seen as completely separate, rather they are to be used in conjunction with each other to overall interpret sound to its fullest extent.
Wiersbicki, J., “Shrieks, Flutters, and Vocal Curtains: electronic sound/electronic music in Hitchcock’s The Birds”, Music and the Moving Image, 2008
This is a purely descriptive source which collates all the available information on the sound in Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘The Bird’s’. It doesn’t attempt to argue whether the electroacoustic sound synthesis counts as “music”, “sound design”, “foley” or a combination of the three, rather just allows the reader to make up their own mind based upon the pure facts. It also includes quotes from Bernard Hermann, the composer who Hitchcock traditionally worked with, but who only had a music supervision role in this film; it is interesting to hear his unique perspective on Oskar Sala’s masterpiece. There is a suggestion that the sound cues could be notated and analysed in a similar way to traditional western music if one wished, which does invariably provoke the question of the ‘score’s actual status. This ties in nicely to all my research into electroacoustic music and reduced listening.
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