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Drever, John Levack

Soundscape Composition: The convergence of ethnography and acousmatic music

2002

Organised Sound: Vol. 7, no. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 21-27.

Despite roots in acoustic ecology and soundscape studies, the practice and study of soundscape composition is often grouped with, or has grown out of the acousmatic music tradition. This can be observed in the positioning of soundscape compositions juxtaposed with acousmatic music compositions in concert programmes, CD compilations and university syllabuses. Not only does this positioning inform how soundscape composition is listened to, but also how it is produced, sonically and philosophically. If the making and presenting of representations of environmental sound is of fundamental concern to the soundscape artist, then it must be addressed. As this methodological issue is outside of previous musical concerns, to this degree, we must look to other disciplines that are primarily engaged with the making of representation, and that have thoroughly questioned what it is to make and present representations in the world today. One such discipline is ethnography. After briefly charting the genesis of soundscape composition and its underlying principles and motivations, the rest of the paper will present and develop one perspective, that of considering soundscape composition as ethnography.

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Monday 11 July 2005, by Leigh Landy