We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Find using OpenURL

From Circles to Nets: On the Signification of Spatial Sound Imagery in New Music
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Computer Music Journal 25.4 (2001) 39-56

Maja Trochimczyk
Thornton School of Music University of Southern California Los Angeles, California 90089-0851, USA polmusic@usc.edu
From Circles to Nets: On the Signification of Spatial Sound Imagery in New Music

As Bas van Fraassen observes in his introduction to the philosophy of time and space, ��with respect to space, it is not easy to make a plausible preliminary list of basic relations�� (van Fraassen 1985). And yet we try: the number of studies of spatial topics has gradually increased with the evergrowing variety of thematic subcategories and types of approaches. In the domain of music, theorists like to discuss ��musical space,�� usually equating it with a two-dimensional pitch-time space, not the space of performance (e.g., Kurth 1969, originally published 1931; Bernard 1983, 1987; Lerdahl 1988; cf. Harley 1994a). In the area of electroacoustics, we deal with sound projection spaces and composed spaces, the latter being integral to the compositions themselves. Still different types of spatial imagery are represented by sonorities or hinted at by the works� titles (e.g., Krzysztof Penderecki�s Dimensions of Time and Silence, 1961; Witold Lutoslawski�s Les espaces du sommeil, 1975; Kaija Saariaho�s Lichtbogen, 1985� 1996; Joan La Barbara�s Space Testing, 1977).
In other words, there are a plurality of ��spaces�� that might be associated with music. An insight into this diversity of spaces is provided by Francis Dho^ mont�s poetic program notes for his electro-acoustic composition Espace/Escape (1989), which has the word ��space�� in its title and explores the associative and symbolic aspects of space and movement:

Space. Open, intimate, confused spaces. Broken spaces, whirling.
Indecisive edges of the space. Space-refuge, enclosed, maternal, space of reminiscence and of associations.
Tumult or murmur in the space of a thousand reflections.
Escape. The flight engenders a vertigo of multiple elsewheres.
Here . . . There . . . (Dhomont 1991)

Espace/Escape brings together the immensity and intimacy of the human experience of space. Sounds from various acoustic environments, ranging from a bird�s cage (the flutter of wings) to an airport lobby (the muffled din of footsteps and conversations and the noise of the airplanes� engines) are juxtaposed with synthetic sonorities in complex, evolving formations that defy description. This instance of contemporary musique concre'te draws from the acoustic physicality of human life and from the exploration of spatial dimensions of sounds possible in acousmatic projection, ��the dimensions of volume, of near and distance, of front and back, left and right�� (Gue´ rin 1991).

Spatial Designs

Space may be experienced only in time, and time only in space. It is important to note that music drawing the space of performance into the realm of meaningful elements, that is, ��spatial or spatialized music,�� is really ��spatio-temporal�� and not ��spatial.�� The categories of spatialization may seem to belong outside of time, but their realization is always temporal. For instance, the perceptual experience of musical layers originating from different spatial locations involves the awareness of their succession and simultaneity. Several factors have a bearing on the classification of musical-spatial designs (see Table 1). Firstly, these designs are not purely geometrical as they are realized in sound.
��Space�� in music is neither empty, nor absolute, nor homogeneous; it is revealed through the spatial attributes of sound matter. Secondly, the human auditory perspective constitutes an essential element of spatial arrangements. If, for instance, groups of musicians are scattered in the hall, their
Computer Music Journal, 25:4, pp. 39�56, Winter 2001 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Trochimczyk 39

Table 1. General classification of spatial designs

Acoustic environments Enclosed space of the concert hall
Enclosed space of any other kind Open air (different acoustic backgrounds) Variable space (mobile performers and audiences) Private, virtual space (headphones)

Sound-space types Real sound-space (with vocal-instrumental sound sources)
Virtual sound-space (with electroacoustic sound sources) Mixed sound-space (with sound sources of both kinds)

Categories of mobility Static performers and static audience
Mobile performers with static audience Static performers with mobile audience Mobile performers and mobile audience

distribution among listeners is more important perceptually than their exact balance of timbre and volume. The performance and perception...

You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.


Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.