Different Walks for Different Talks: Finding the Meaningful in Electroacoustic Music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper is predicated on the argument that searching for the meaningful in electroacoustic music is to use different means for different pieces, while remaining situated within the historical context of electroacoustic music. The important factors here are, first, that the meaningful in music is different than meaning in music, and, second, that methods for examining the meaningful in electroacoustic music can be quite different than the means of investigating the meaningful in acoustic music.

This paper surveys three works in order to demonstrate the diversity of the meaningful by applying different perspectives to each work. These works were chosen for the ways in which they are related yet distinct. All three works fall within the greater definition of electroacoustic music. That is, all pieces are intended for the concert hall paradigm, and the musical material relies fundamentally on electronic technologies. Yet, the musical material arises from different techniques and purposes within electroacoustic media. Two pieces use recorded and processed sounds, while one synthesizes its own timbres. Additionally, two are single-moded (music alone) while one is multimodal (ballet). Ultimately, all three have their own philosophies that require different starting points for analysis. This survey does not provide exhaustive investigations of each work. Rather, it demonstrates the advantage of diverse avenues of inquiry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference Meaning and Meaningfulness in Electroacoustic Music, Stockholm, June 2012
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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