Sound, Sight and Silence

1. Is there a difference between musical and non-musical sound?

According to the American composer John Cage there is no such difference. In 1937 he firmly stated: “I belief that the use of noise to make music will continue and increase….” [1], hoping that music in the future would become organized sound, without confining itself to, as he called them, ‘so-called musical sounds’. Then, finally, what futurist Luigi Russolo had already announced in 1911 would come true: the musical domain would expand into a new ‘Sound Art’. In fact, as far back as the twenties, this new art had materialised in the hands of pioneers like Edgar Varèse. It rose to a first pinnacle in the electronic music of the second half of the 20th century and eventually became commonplace in the 21st. The past century’s lofty ideal of musical change, sought after by composers as Varèse, Cage, Stockhausen and Xenakis, was precisely this ‘liberation of sound’ from the historical shackles of musical tone. This liberation amounted to reorganize the universe of musical sound, thoroughly research it, and, especially, substantially expand the available sounds with the help of the latest technological devices.
In the Netherlands in 1962, the composer Hans Henkemans proposed to call the new, auditory art not ‘music’ but ‘sonic art’. At the time, his opponents saw in this a futile, conservative attempt to impede the necessary expansion of the historically obsolete phenomenon of music as an art of tones. [2] By now, it is hardly possible to imagine various forms of contemporary western art (music, film, dance and visual art) without the use of sound. Practitioners of sound art, like the influential composer and theoretician Trevor Wishart, have deliberately used the word ‘sonic art’, just like Henkemans had done before them[3]. The question I now want to ask is: when do we experience sound as ‘so-called musical’? Didn’t the last century convincingly teach us that all ‘organized sound’ may be considered musical? Or is there still a major aesthetic difference between ‘sonic art’ and our historical tradition of ‘music’?

2. What is the nature of sound and what is its function?

Let me first look at the most elementary experience of sound, invoking the help of J.J. Gibson, founder of a type of experimental research in perception that has become known as ‘ecological psychology’[4]. According to Gibson the elementary experience of sound serves two functions: orientation in space and identification of things heard. At the heart of a sound is a mechanical occurrence, an event, that results in the vibration of the air around it. The resulting airwaves help our ears to probe the environment: they contain clues about the direction of the sound source and the place and quality of obstacles in the space around us. We actively search for that information by bodily movements (we turn out heads and ‘prick up our ears’), and if that does not help, we ourselves make sound, as a blind person might do with a stick. In this ‘orienting reflex’ the question where? is intimately linked to the question what?  The vibrating air establishes a subtle and precise physical contact between our hearing and the event that creates it. While this causes a sensation of sound, in the sound we perceive events, somewhere. A thundering noise startles us – we don’t listen to the sound, but we do hear its possible cause. Likewise, we don’t see colors or forms, or space, but look at people or things far away or close by, we listen to people or things to know what is happening. The primary function of the auditive system is to determine a sound source as a unified entity in time and space, or, as Gibson puts it: our auditory system tries to establish the invariances in the sound in order to let us know what produced that sound. In this way we explore the world around us and orientate us in the landscape of sounds that surrounds us, which R. Murray Schafer has captivatingly dubbed our soundscape [5]. Without that special ability we would be aurally clueless, at the mercy of an ocean of sound waves.

3. Tone, pitch and timbre

What kind of information enables us to determine the nature of events in our soundscape? This is what one could call the quality of sound, or timbre. In the 19th century, Hermann Helmholtz laid the experimental foundation for a still influential music-acoustical view of timbre: timbre is any difference between two notes that otherwise share the same height, volume and duration, and it is determined by the mix of partials (overtones) in the sound. This mix of partials, the tone’s ‘overtone spectrum’ is what we usually call ‘tone color’.

In his famous study of 1863, Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, Helmholtz considered sound as an exclusively ‘musical’ phenomenon. Hardly ten years earlier the musical critic Eduard Hanslick had given the concept of the ‘musical’ one of its characteristic expressions in that era in his Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (1854), which contained the famous description of the purely musical as ‘tönend bewegte Formen’ (‘tonally animated forms’ or ‘forms moving in tones’) [6].  Of course, in that era, music was very much an ‘art of tones’ for Helmholtz too. His research focused on the constant, periodical sound: the stable, pitched tone, considering timbre as its ‘coloring’, caused by the stable spectrum of ‘partials’ which make up the stable tone.

However, even for such stable sounds as musical tones the quality of sound has proven to be much more capricious than the static ‘tone color’ studied by Helmholtz. Composer Henk Badings, a Dutch pioneer of electronic music, used to vividly illustrate this in his lectures on ‘Musical Acoustics’. With the help of simple tape-montage, he demonstrated to what degree the recognition of the ‘color’ of an instrumental tone is partly based on the short moment of the onset, the starting of a tone: a reverberating harp-tone that had been given the onset of a horn did sound like a horn tone and, similarly, a violin tone that started with a clarinet onset would keep sounding like a clarinet.

Gibson might say: we do not attend to the ‘coloring’ of a sound. Because we listen to what happens when a sound occurs, we focus instead on the (micro)mechanical characteristics of events that are the sources of the sound. Badings’ sound hybrids showed that it is precisely the very swift changes in the sound spectrum (like at the onset of a note, when a string or a wind column is set into motion by our body) that tell us what characterizes the source mechanically.

Let’s go beyond music and listen to natural soundscapes. There, stable sounds are very rare and swiftly changing spectra are the rule. Wind and water move on rocks and through the reed, their noisy rustlings highly capricious. The woodland creaks and rustles, city centers hum and honk. People too sound capricious, especially when we hear them speak a foreign language. Research into speech recognition learns that, in this case as well, we are especially able to single out the very rapid changes in (vocal) sounds to identify, and learn, the typical elements of speech [7].

Apparently, the sensation of a sound consists of registering numerous quick changes in space and time that have a large range of characteristics – mirroring the mechanical events which, mediated by vibrating air, are presented to our eardrums. Both in the rainforest and the city jungle, survival skills make us search automatically and actively for the connection between these rapidly changing auditory sensations and the characteristics of events that might cause them. This is also at the root of recognizing human speech. Therefore, theories of the soundscape, describe sound, as does our hearing, by describing its (kind of) source: a sound ‘sounds like… (an occurrence or kind of occurrence)’[8]. Let us call it the radio play fiction – that, upon hearing a sound, we cannot but look for or imagine something or somebody, materializing somewhere in space.

4. The ‘acousmatic experience’ and sonic art

One might very well try to deliberately break down this radio play fiction.

The story goes that Pythagoras would speak from behind a cloth, for his pupils to concentrate purely on his words. Some of these pupils so much prided themselves in disregarding the visible aspect of their teacher that they branded themselves hoi akoesmatikoi, ‘the acousmatics’ i.e. those who only value the audible, not the visible. Nowadays, such a radical rift between eye and ear is being realized all around us through, loudspeakers, earbuds and everything that comes with the recording, transmitting and reproduction of sound. Voices singing through speakers without us being able to see their mouths – they do not sound spooky at all. If we mimic someone else’s singing, which, as ‘playback’ and karaoke has become part of popular culture, we toy with the radio play fiction by seemingly putting back the sound of the singing voice in another, imitated source. Playing this ‘radio play’ with the invisible sound source, through a loudspeaker, by a ventriloquist, and possibly by bored pupils of Pythagoras takes us to the limit of the domain of natural sounds.

Pierre Schaeffer, a French radio producer and pioneer of sonic art, broadcast his Concert des Bruits in 1948, with works he had compiled of recorded sound – the first in their kind. He called it ‘musique concrète’ and later on theorized extensively about the ‘acousmatic experience’ of the ‘sound object’ (objet sonore) [9], which is crucial for this art. In imitation of the ancient Acousmatics, their experience is exactly what sonic art invites us to do: to abandon naïve listening and not think of a specific sound source, and instead, make yourself the sound aesthetically ‘specific’, by listening to it as an independent, aesthetic object, as sound.

Bear in mind that Schaeffer, and most of the sonic artists after him, used the sound studio as their workshop. With the aid of the microphone as kind of magnifying glass they could penetrate to unprecedented depths into the world of sound, manipulate a sound as a recorded object on tape, and create an audible image of it through loudspeakers. Like editing engineers, sonic artists do not pay attention to the meaning of the sound (that is, the event that caused it), but to the form of the sound, both in time and in space. With the foregoing in mind you could say that, with the help of studio techniques, the sonic composers in fact artificially synthesize new, unknown sound sources in order to make audible a unique artistic soundscape. In doing so they create a purely aesthetic, acousmatic counterpart of our ‘natural’ hearing environment; after all, we experience the effect of the composed, synthesised sound sources within the artificial space of various loudspeakers, or of headphones on our heads, while concentrating on their mere sound.

In spite of the ‘radio play fiction’, I don’t want to dispute the possibility of such an  ‘acousmatic experience’. Sonic composers may well challenge the natural radio play fiction in the same way choreographers challenge the law of gravity; they play a delicate game at the margins of the possible. The medium is not relevant. Whether it is the sound from speakers, or from unconventionally played instruments, or from the sea during a beach stroll, we could always try to evade an answer to the question: ‘what events have caused the sounds around us’. By thus restricting us to the ‘sound in itself’, we may try to turn the sound of a crying baby, of the rushing surf, or of music, into a game of pure sound, a pure ‘sonic art’.

5. The difference between pitch and timbre

Among the features of sound that musical acoustics recognizes (volume, duration, timbre and pitch) pitch is far more simple than timbre in various respects. Acoustically (according to the physics of sound), timbre possesses a vast number of dimensions while the related sound experiences (psychophysically speaking) cannot be determined uniquely and compared unambiguously. The perception of pitch, on the other hand, is fairly unambiguous. It is a direct result of the inner ear’s frequency analysis of periodic vibrations, and in comparison to timbre it is more simply measurable and categorizable. But what makes the perception of pitch much simpler than timbre in a very specific aesthetic sense is the fact that, unlike timbre, pitch doesn’t represent anything.

When an object produces a tone, the sound is periodic: the object is ‘resonating’ at a particular frequency. We noticed that the timbre of a tone, the quality of its sound, contains information about the object. However, with regard to its pitch, the tone could just as well belong to something else. The periodicity (frequency) of the resonance is not specific to the object – we could ourselves try to sing its pitch. By focusing on the corresponding pitch we uncover a feature (periodicity patterns) that may be derived from one sound and imitated by another – like the sound of our own voice. The similarity we then produce may be called ‘abstract’ or ‘transcendent’; the pitch does in fact transcend the difference between the various sound sources and enables us to make a connection ourselves. Timbre, on the other hand, is distinctive and unique and remains immanent to the event that has caused it. Take for instance that high F sharp; its sound could mean: ‘xylophone’, but also ‘screeching wagon’, or ‘blackbird’. The pitch of that sound, however, does not in itself reveal anything about the factual world; should we pay attention to it all the same we might create a new aesthetic situation, one in which we are able to ‘hear’ these totally different sound sources together (although they each possess a different sound).

Not only are we able to perceive pitch independently of the specific sound in which a particular pitch is ‘present’. Through the sensation of tone we are also able ‘transcend’ the time-bound and space-bound characteristics of the sensation of timbre. A train wagon screeches a tone, a blackbird warbles another. When we experience pitch as a constant factor in both sounds (that is, in both events), then we relate, through pitch, the one sound (the one event) to the other. The sound of the wagon continues into that of the blackbird and this creates a tone figure, a new temporal event that ‘spans’ the formerly incoherent sound moments. Suddenly, for that new event (which we ourselves have created), any spatial distance between events becomes of secondary importance as well. Their distance rather becomes one between tones: a large or small ‘interval’ (tone step) [10]. Perceiving sounds in this way, we have left behind us the events that produced these sounds in the real soundscape. We enter a different time and a different space: the events have now become ‘music’ to our ears. In this perspective, an orchestra is on the platform not just to make audible that the notes of the bassoon player sound here and those of the viola player there. In the so-called ‘musical experience’ the orchestra offers another invisible stage on which, in spite of their different spatial and physical origin, we relate sounds into a musical entity of tones.

While sound (in its timbral aspect) refers to a concrete sound source, pitch, in contrast, invites this kind of ‘abstraction’. It makes it possible for us to turn away from our direct need for information, abandon our focus on the source and enter into a world of tone relationships– an essentially ‘acousmatic’ world in the sense that pitches mainly resemble, and refer to, not the real world of objects but each other. When describing this musical experience (and not the physical or mathematical characteristics of the sound), descriptions of the type ‘sounds like…’, referring to the concrete events that caused the sound, have become secondary.

6. Describing pitch as if it moves in ‘tonal space’

To describe basic musical experiences, musicians know a long tradition of perceptual metaphors based on other analogies than the very concrete ‘it sounds like…’ I do not refer to visual descriptions of sound such as ‘color’, ‘volume’, and ‘weight’ (which are often used subjectively and seldom systematically). It is precisely in describing the specific experience of tone relations in music, hinted at above, that we encounter two kinds of visual metaphor, ingrained in professionals and laypeople alike to such a degree that they seem quite characteristic of our musical comprehension.

The first and most obvious is the spatial one. We don’t mind speaking of high and low tones, of their rising and falling, even though we all know that there is no space either visible or knowing right or left. A music theoretician may claim that ‘the bass leads upwards to a C major chord’, without us considering the bass as a real path and the chord as an entity occupying space.

It is here that the second metaphor emerges, the dramatical. What we call ‘the bass’ indicates the lowest and deepest musical tones, and it is these tones that we assign a functional behavior: they ‘lead to’ something. We are not really referring to the singer, the instrumentalist, or the hand of the keyboard player making these low tones sound; it is the tones themselves that behave, and they do so in relation to other tones.

The dramatical metaphor adds to the spatial one an element of agency that possesses visual qualities. The ‘melodic lines’, the ‘voices’ seem to perform actions by means of the tones of which they consist; they display causes and effects, become recognizable shapes in changing environments in which they become active: if only to leave, return, approach or interrupt each other. Some influential musical scholars have taken this metaphor of action so literally, that they attribute to tones a ‘will to move[11].

However, to what extent are these metaphors of movement, space and gesture really appropriate?

By way of illustration I will musically, but non-technically, describe an episode from a small melody; I kindly ask the reader to let it roll off the tongue a couple of times:

Melodie 'Daar was een sneeuwwit vogeltje"
‘The music moves upward to a note (a), which is emphasized by being repeated, and in the process is lengthened as well as stressed [“daar was een SNEEUWwit…”]. Once arrived there, this note appears to be the starting point of a next, slower movement, leading the little phrase upward, although via short fall, in which movement the highest point (on “VOgeltje”, the high c) also gets a rhythmic accent, and for a while leads back to a slightly lower note (b), which as a preliminary final gets a slight accent. When it repeats itself in |2|, the funny thing is that two things happen with the highest point (c). At first, the high note c seems, when passing from |2| to |3|, to continue downwards (via b to a), but when we continue singing |3|, the c also appears to rise (to the d of “al op een STEkendorentje…), although not on the small scale of phrases, but on the larger scale of the rising line of the highest notes of the phrases (the ‘top notes’ indicated on the small staff).’

We might wonder how the (my) various perceptions described above genuinely relate to the visual perception of ‘movement’ and ‘space’. Is there truly something moving in a particular direction? With this type of a description, a number of contradictions arise.

of all, no tone is ever independent of its pitch: a high tone is a different tone than a low one.  The ‘high and low’ is not in fact a spatial dimension; there is no ‘place’, where an ‘independent’ tone may be located, and without that, movement, change of place, is impossible. The tone doesn’t move, it only changes in its quality of pitch. And while visible movement has a certain continuity, in music the change is mainly stepwise.  While the pitch continuum is real (we could glide from one tone to the other), music in actual fact jumps between stable, sustained pitches.

So there is neither actual space, nor actual movement; and still, in case of pitch changes in a melody, we do experience a feeling of ‘direction’ that is lacking in a spatial object that changes its color. We do not hear a changing of sounds: we hear and sing moving (animated, energetic) forms made up from tone relations, like the ‘arcs’ of this melody. Their ‘movement’ is exclusively a movement of subsequent tones produced in relation to other, previous tones – not in relation to any ‘space’ surrounding the tones. One tone is a sound; two consecutive tones ‘form’ a musical movement. And, strange to say, these mobile forms possess a very immobile side: the sounds display a kind of stable order, both in pitch as in duration. In this melody, for instance, the tone a appears repeatedly in a rhythmically prominent position. This creates a different feeling of orientation than, for instance, the few tones spanning smaller distances, the c and the b, and the f and the e. These different ‘orientations’ create distance and direction, in other words ‘space’. ‘Singing in tune’ means: fixating those tones and their steps physically. What we do in singing is to suggest imaginary contour lines, which as an imaginary grid of tone relations defines a ‘tonal space’.

However, in contrast to the real space of objects this ‘tonal space’ does not precede the musical movement nor does it surround it as a frame of reference. Does the melody ‘move’ in relation to the imaginary grid, or do the grid’s relations actually result as a consequence of the melodic movement, in the same way that the rising ‘line’ of top notes a-(b)-c-d only gradually offers support?

Moreover: are the same forces always at work at the same points in that space? When singing we do feel that the prominent a keeps changing its melodic function, and from a starting point leads through intermediate stages to an ending. Finally, does that space know only pitch relations? After all, notes are characterized by their position in the sequential order and by the emphasis they get through, for instance, their length or volume; that rhythmic (or temporal) role defines their relations in the same degree as does their pitch.

You may already have assumed that the metaphor of ‘space’ is not to be taken literally. Yet it is helpful: it refers to precise, comprehensible relations in time and pitch which appear to be the very source of the apparent ‘spatiality’ and ‘movement’. The melody gradually creates a ‘space’ of its own, almost as if we feel our way in the darkness of an unknown room. Of course, the appearance of spatiality is most clearly felt in polyphonic music, where musical lines move in varying distances to each other, thus creating a harmonic ‘space’ as well. A simple phenomenon that illustrates the huge difference between this musical space and the ‘real’ visual one is, of course, an octave. When one note stays put and the other rises, then the rising one, in spite of its ‘leaving’, will ‘return’ to the first note as its identical sounding octave.

It is, however, in the notation of our little melody that the most crucial difference between visual and musical space is apparent. Who listens to the melody, or sings it, will find, like me, that no musical experience equals looking at the notated score. In fact, we always view the written form of the music ‘sideways’, because I can perceive its head as well as its tail. Musically this is an impossible point of view. It is a viewpoint from a distance in a space and not a momentary, time bound ‘point of hearing’ that, while events keep changing, finds itself always in the present. Distancing ourselves from sounding music is not possible. Nor is it necessary. The description above suggests that, in the present, a musical process is evolving: the ‘movement’ of elements of the music and their connections arise while we experience the music.

7. The ‘radio play fiction’ that pitch is meaningful action, gesture and intention

The evolving process of listening brings me to the metaphor of ‘drama’ in the sense that music, and its various parts, may be understood as a performed gesture or action. Of course, most music is being caused by someone performing an ‘action’: someone is playing an instrument, or, maybe more frequently, singing. And although music often sounds through speakers, this ‘pure’ sound may remain attractive because we suffer from the ‘radio play fiction’: focused on detecting a source we hear the musical sound being made. We try to imagine musicians as they might behave in reality: acting creatures with whom we identify ourselves by mimicking guitar-playing or drum-beating. In addition, we group notes (also those coming from speakers) into quasi spatial movements, which, in their turn, group themselves into processes of ‘leaving’, ‘being underway’ and ‘arriving’. In combination with the real or imagined body gestures as sound source, I think it is sufficient to ascribe to the apparent movements that we are hearing: purposiveness, human ‘meaning’, or ‘intention’.

In spite of all that, musical movement, and with that ‘intention’, is not literally dependent on a single person. ‘The bass’ is not really the lady behind her enormous string instrument, especially not when her musical line is being taken over by the bassoon (the gentleman with the moustache), which is being ‘doubled’ by three celli. Nor is the action clearly confined in time: should I sing from figure 1 the second phrase and you the third, my independent action would be continued by you in the overall ‘gesture’ of the music. For that reason, musical movement is not confined to scale either: when produced by different singers or different parts of an ensemble the separate phrases of figure 1 would be connected through the overarching ‘gesture’ of the top notes.

Let us call this the ‘diffuse intentionality’ of music. Something is being ‘intended’, but who intends what and by what means? Tones can seem a vehicle for highly personal feelings, of a real person as well as of an opera character; of Frank Sinatra himself (‘My Way’) as well as of Mélisande ‘herself’ (‘ne me touche pas’). At the same time it is the charm of all manmade music, that the musical gestures expressing these intentions blur into the larger musical universe of the tones that surround them. This is the transcendency of the ‘gesture’ in tones: since it is not related to a person,tim e limit, or scale it can go beyond the various separate actions (performed by a singer, an instrument player or an opera character) and connect into a larger musical process.

Our language seems to intimate that we imagine music as living, human movements [12]. When we speak about music, we attempt to apply knowledge of the visible world to the invisible world of music. But in vain: music will never become as orderly as the pages of a novel, or as a painting or a stage full of dancers. The odd paradox of music is that even though relations between tones may be exactly described theoretically, those same tones, in a simple melody produced as sounding music by people, form an intricate web of movements in a ‘temporary’ world that escapes the language of our visual-spatial senses. My discussion even of the simple melody in figure 1 probably shows in the first place how much beyond description the musical experience really is.

8. Music, sonic art and the interactive dualism of tone and sound

I have dwelled on a short study of musical organization and its description in order to point out a crucial difference between music (the art of tones) and sonic art (the art of sounds). In my opinion it is music that, in most of its historical and cultural guises, implies the use of tones and tone relations. The sounds of voices and instruments derive their aim and direction from tone relations, in a quasi-spatial way, and, with that, they acquire a seeming movement. Tone relations make the organization of sounds comprehensible, in spite of their temporal and ineffable aspects.

In my view, it is clear that sonic art is without a comparable system of sound relations, because, other than pitch, sound lacks the unambiguous features that produce comprehensible relations as in music with just as much precision. Sonic artists deliberately declare themselves against such precise systems of relations [13]. Sonic art is not about a transcendent abstract order ‘beyond’ sound, but about the unique sound itself. For that reason, Schaeffer is right to call his art ‘concrete’: there is no form except for the sound itself, and no other sound space than the real one. To prevent us from not conceiving that sound as ordinary and functional he emphasizes the ‘acousmatic experience’ (the perception of what we hear as ‘pure sound’), and this experience is being improved when the composer removes the sound from reality: by manipulating it in the studio or by having it performed on instruments in an unorthodox way.

Experience shows that in that case sonic art does sound abstract in the sense that the sound ‘doesn’t resemble anything’, and that relationships are not obvious or easy to memorize. In order to appeal to the imagination, sonic art is mostly accompanied by phenomena of the visual world. Sometimes with the spatiality and movement of architecture, visual arts, dance and theatre, for images and (sounding) events to cooperate aesthetically [14]. Sometimes it refers to real movement by using strong rhythms, as in some percussion pieces by John Cage and electronic dance. Sometimes sounds are used that remind us of a real sound source (for instance speech), as with Trevor Wishart, the composer of electronic music mentioned above, who, with such sounds which he calls sonic images [15], creates a surrealistic sound adventure, rich in meaning.

While sonic art aims to capture the imagination by the sound itself, in music,  an imagined world is brought about. Through the aesthetic elements of pitch and tone relations, this world exists partly independent of real sound sources, gestures and spaces, and it is therefore inherently ‘acousmatic’. However, at the same time music is very concrete. While sonic art can easily do without music, music without sonic features is impossible: the sound is the only thing you hear.

Philosopher Roger Scruton (Scruton, The Aesthetics of Music, p. 79) has compared the close relationship between sound and ‘tone’ with that between body and soul as Spinoza viewed these: a parallelism between two aspects of the same thing, as unbridgeable as they are inseparable [16].

In response to this, however, I would point out a possible interactive dualism between the two aspects of ‘tone’: sound and pitch. I propose that it is precisely their interaction that is crucial for our historical understanding of music. Musical traditions are being embodied by processes as laid down in figure 1. Sometimes these result from improvisation, sometimes from works that have been completely notated; but they always require a player who physically turns these patterns of pitch into sound, and whose personal understanding translates these musical forms into comprehensible gestures of ‘moving’ sounds. The imagination of musicians influences their physical gestures; in their turn, how these gestures sound influences the way in which we ourselves will imagine the ‘process in tones’ and the various meanings we ascribe to it.

The reciprocal influence of sound and imagination arises in that moment of ineffable beauty: when the performer, breaking the silence, conjures up before our ears an invisible order in sounding gestures of a momentary, fleeting and uniquely individual nature – that maybe only poets can describe.


[1]John Cage, “The future of music: credo”, in R. Kostelanetz (ed.), John Cage, an anthology, New York, Da Capo Press 1991 [back]

[2]zie Joke Dame, “De controverse over muziek en ‘soniek’”, in L. Grijp (ed.), Een muziekgeschiedenis der Nederlanden, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press 2001, pp 689 e.v.; her conclusion on p. 695), that ‘sonic art’ is  a vacuous concept these days, is therefore completely off the mark.[back]

[3]Trevor Wishart, On Sonic Art, York, Imagineering Press 1985 offers a perspective from music, while  Helga de la Motte-Haber (ed.), Klangkunst. Tönende Objekte und klingende Räume, Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert (Band 12), Laaber 1999 considers sonic arts more from the perspective of the visual arts.[back]

[4]J.J. Gibson, The Senses considered as Perceptual Systems, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company 1966;  cf. also Bregman, A. S., Auditory scene analysis:The perceptual organization of sound. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1990[back]

[5]R. Murray Schafer, The Tuning of the World, New York, Knopf 1977[back]

[6]Eduard Hanslick, Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, Leipzig 1854 (vert. WWvN)[back]

[7]Andringa, T., Continuity preserving signal processing, PHD Thesis  Groningen University 2002[back]

[8]cf. Gibson, p. 87; Shafer p. 133, and also Risset, J.-C. & Wessel, D., “The study of timbre by analysis and synthesis”, in Diana Deutsch (ed.), The psychology of music, University of California Press 1985[back]

[9]P. Schaeffer, Traité des objets musicaux, Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1966[back]

[10]Roger Scruton, The aesthetics of music, Oxford University Press 1997[back]

[11]I refer to the influential Viennese theoretician Heinrich Schenker in his ten volume study Der Tonwille, Wenen 1921-4[back]

[12]vgl. Roger Scruton, The aesthetics of music, Oxford University Press 1997, chapter 3.[back]

[13]vgl. Wishart, On Sonic Art, chapter 2, where he defends the ‘continuum’ of sound against its division into fixed tonal and rhythmic ‘grids’.[back]

[14]cf. Helga de la Motte-Haber, note 4[back]

[15]cf. Wishart, On Sonic Art, ch. 2[back]

[16]Scruton, The aesthetics of music, p. 79[back]