Glover, Richard (2012) The experience of sustained tone music. In: ICMPC-ESCOM 2012 Joint Conference, 23-28 July 2012, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

This study will discuss a cognitive approach to the experience of experimental sustained tone music, using recent compositions by Phill Niblock, Alvin Lucier and myself as source material.
After initially outlining the kinds of harmonic transformation and global pitch structure involved in these pieces, the aural nature of sustained tones is discussed whereupon listeners are directed towards the activity within the surface layer of the sound. This activity is described in detail, comprehensively surveying the myriad acoustic and psychoacoustic phenomena prevalent.

The paper then draws upon gestalt grouping mechanisms to describe how this surface activity is interpreted by the cognitive process. The notion of resulting articulations within sections is explored, and consequently what this means in terms of stability and instability for the listener, including considerations of temporality. The manner in which this process feeds into the compositional procedure for these composers is then explored, looking specifically at pitch structures employed, how indeterminacy in sustained tone composition affects the cognition process and why these composers have a tendency towards writing for acoustic instruments rather than electronic sources. This study provides further strategies into how we might analyse sustained tone music, directing discussion towards the sounding experience and cognitive comprehension of the listener rather than solely from the score. This understanding can open up further avenues of research for composers, performers and interdisciplinary theorists.

Richard_Glover-ICMPC-ESCOM_poster.pdf - Accepted Version

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