Spectromorphology is a term that was first coined by Denis Smalley in his chapter Spectro-morphology and Structuring Processes, which can be found in the. Spectromorphology. Language for explaining sound-‐‑shapes. Adapted from: Dennis Smalley, Department of Music, City University, London. Organised Sound . Abstract. Denis Smalley’s concept of Spectromorphology () provides the listener of electroacoustic music with thorough and accessible sets of vocabulary to.

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Within these groups exists more terminology for describing that particular motion or growth process.

Motion explains a similar concept to morphology, but extends to the overall movement of complex sound through time.

The framework within the morphological aspects of Spectromorphology can be summarised by the Onsets, Continuants and Terminations functions, the Motion and Growth processes, Spectromorphologg motion and Behaviour. Views Read Edit View history. These seven characteristics are: Smalley uses four terms to describe this relationship: Retrieved from ” https: Smalley says that motion is a subconsciously understood concept in traditional composition, as spectromoorphology is the overall harmonic movement against melody which drives musical structures.

Smalley, working in electronic environments, must have been aware of this term, but his brilliance was in translating this structure into musical analytical language. Simply put, the Note to Noise continuum is how one describes the spectral content of a sound.

Benjamin Talbott

It is not an analytical or compositional system. Smalley also designates different morphological archetypes:.

The sub-groups of motion which he identifies as archetypes are: Texture motion is used to describe the variations in the Motion and Growth process. Spectral density is used to describe how sounds emanate from one another. Since then there have been numerous publications relating to this smalleey and a number of extensions spectromoprhology other scholars within the field of electroacoustic music.


If we were to go into further detail, we could also argue morphologically that the object begins as separated attack impulses, tracing a smooth line through the iterative form towards granulation, before dissipating.

Smalley states that Spectromorpholovy is “intended to account for types of electroacoustic music” Smalley A descriptive spectromorphological analysis of sound is sometimes used in the analysis of electroacoustic musicespecially acousmatic debis. He also suggests that others could “supplement his basic listening with their own analogies” where appropriate Smalley There are four qualifiers for spectral space, which are based on antonym pairs: Smalley defines three different spectral typologies that exist in what he calls the noise-note continuum.

Spectromorphology – Wikipedia

Instead it suggests viewpoints and tools for “speculating and imagining”, but these cannot be organised into a single analytical or compositional action Smalley On the fifth distinct note heard, the piece begins to change. Whether they are considered distant or close and whether they allow other sounds to be heard. The term was coined by Denis Smalley in and is considered the most adequate English term to designate the field of sound research associated with the French writer, composer, and academic, Pierre Schaeffer [ citation needed ].

The term Spectromorphology is an amalgamation of the terms Spectra and Morphology. Denis Smalley defines Spectromorphology as a “collection of tools for describing sound shapes, structures, and relationships, and for thinking about certain semiotic aspects – potentially analysis of a kind” Smalley Reversing, transforming, granulating and stretching among other techniques results in all other morphological objects, and can always be simplified down to the three archetypes.


He defines three groups that should be regarded as motions: It does not relate to the spatialisation of sounds within a fixed-media piece.


By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Returning to morphologyit is interesting to note that the formalisation of the term ADSR envelope attack, decay, sustain, release was suggested around twenty years earlier by Vladimir Ussachevsky in reference to work he was doing with Bob Moog. Within each of these three states exists spectromkrphology number of terms to describe the way in which a sound evolves.

The piece then abandons the low harmonic spectra in favour of high harmonics. The premise is beautiful, finding oneself musically exploring the innards of the cello for the first time.

The work is in five sections, each toeing the line between acoustic and electroacoustic. We hear this repeated, so far in a linear fashion, the simplest motion.