Genre Hybridisation in Acousmatic Composition

Dr. Robert Bentall
Senior Lecturer in Music Production
Leeds College of Music
In this paper, I will attempt to explore issues of how electroacoustic music discourse can be hybridized with the language of other musical genres in order to find a new sound world that develops the language of electroacoustic composition. This is developed through a discussion of my own works Summer Anthem and A Berry Bursts.

Acousmatic music now possesses clearly developed language, based around the exploration of recorded sound materials through experimental techniques such as granular synthesis and time-stretching. It is these facets of composition that lead me to describe acousmatic music as a genre: it has a set of traits that seem to be paradigmatic as the basis for how to compose. These traits have effectively become contracts1.1, obliging the composer to undertake a set of musical decisions to validate the work as an electroacoustic composition. However, the genre is initially based on the idea of a medium; that is, music written for loudspeakers only. This medium is the basis for all genres of electronic music; more popular styles are also regimented by contracts, far more strictly than acousmatic works.

Within my recent works, I have attempted to lift certain `contracts' from certain genres and mix them together within one piece. Summer Anthem lifts harmonic content that as inexorably linked to dance music, such as the extended interrupted cadence, presents these materials on a sound source heard in folk contexts (the mandolin) and uses electroacoustic techniques such as granular synthesis and creative surround panning to bring clearly defined electroacoustic elements in to the work. A Berry Bursts, which uses a pop song as its sound material, brings in to question how the term remix is paradigmatically understood. The work of artists such as Gabriel Prokofiev and Matmos demonstrates forms of genre hybridity that I built on through the incorporation of electroacoustic structures and techniques.

It would seem that acousmatic music has, for a significant period of time, lived in a vacuum in which it has offered limited musical reference to other genres of music, particularly electronic music styles. This may be due to the high art perception of electroacoustic music, which is not held by other forms of computer-based composition. Through the acknowledgement that many composers who compose within the genre have broad musical interests, genre hybridization may facilitate more varied and distinctly personal contributions to the electroacoustic domain.


... contracts1.1
Thomas Shave (2008). Communicative contract analysis: an approach to popular music analysis. Organised Sound, 13, pp 41-50.
adrian 2015-06-03