Rich, Jonathan (2010) Exploring the Synthesis of Musique Concrète and Visual Media in Popular Culture. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This practice-based research project will examine the link between the contemporary genre of Musique Concrète and the visual medium, through a portfolio of audiovisual pieces. By undertaking in-depth research into audiovisual principles demonstrated by Michel Chion and Walter Murch, I will first outline the various relationships that audio has with vision, and viceversa, drawing on ideas from theorists like Denis Smalley, Rick Altman and Paul Rudy. Then, by subsequently analysing the definitions and interpretations of Musique Concrète by musicologists such as Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, I will look at the issues and debates surrounding acousmatic sounds, as well as the way the listening audience receives and perceives sound. Finally, I will amalgamate these ideas and concepts into a theoretical framework, and strive to answer the question of how Musique Concrète could potentially
manifest itself visually. As vision is generally seen as the most dominant of the senses1, the
importance of having aesthetic compatibility between the audio and visual elements of a piece
of work is imperative. Therefore, study into this area will help to develop a specific integrated
framework for effectively analysing or creating audiovisual work involving concrete music.

Drawing inspiration from various video artists such as Rob Chiu and Chris Cunningham, the portfolio comprises three audiovisual pieces, each with the common goal of demonstrating
a marriage of concrete music and its accompanying visual stimuli. However, each piece explores a different approach to achieving its unified objective, by adopting various methods of
realisation through utilising an assortment of visual production techniques, based on conceptualising the creative process. This will be accomplished by looking at the schematisation of Musique Concrète, and the parallels that run between its concrete to abstract compositional process and that of video editing. Interpreting these concepts visually will help to develop the foundation for an enhanced, sympathetic audiovisual relationship. The soundtrack
will also be extrapolated into varying degrees of abstracted syntax, as well as explored for aural
and mimetic discourse, revealing how it evokes imagery and metaphoric messages through
environmental context, and the impact this has on the video.

The popular culture element of the research project will look to consolidate these ideas of a
concrete sound and video hybrid, and present it in a modern-day popular context. By studying
modern Musique Concrète artists such as Matthew Herbert, whose seamless blend of Jazz and
concrete samples produces a unique and popular soundworld, to more traditional artists like
Michel Chion, Pierre Henry and Luc Ferrari, the portfolio accompanying this project will consist
of sounds from everyday objects, integrated with samples of electric guitar and bass, and manipulated through the use of software plug-ins and granular synthesis. The result is an
industrial soundworld contextualised within various genres of popular music.

jrichfinalthesis.pdf - Accepted Version
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