Musicology of Electroacoustic Music [MEM]  >  Schaefferian Theory  ]

Musical composition is a complex process combining several discrete activities. Traditionally, disciplines such as harmony, counterpoint and orchestration have been regarded as distinct, though related, areas. Furthermore, each is characterised by a priori systems of classification and organisation. However, in the environment of the electroacoustic studio such systems are frequently entirely inappropriate and the composer appears to be confronted with repertories of sounds and techniques lacking both order and clarity. Pierre Schaeffer’s "Programme de la Recherche Musicale" (or PROGREMU) is a response to this situation. PROGREMU consists of five interdependent stages by which musical composition mediated by technology can be approached systematically. Recorded sound objects are classified and described according to their perceived features. These procedures facilitate the grouping of sound objects and, potentially, the promotion of any characteristic to the role of a principal articulator of structure. Separate activities can, therefore, still be identified. However, the electroacoustic medium encourages a reassessment of their functions and relationships. Consequently, PROGREMU elaborates, rather than rejects, already systematised traditional activities.

PROGREMU comprises a system of five interdependent stages: typology, morphology, characterology, analysis and synthesis. By means of typology and morphology sound objects are isolated from their context, classified and described. These are the most detailed, taxonomic stages of the programme. Thereafter, according to characterology, sounds can be grouped in "genres" and, by analysis, their potential for musical structures can be assessed. With this information the composer can synthesise new sound objects. Each stage has a specific function but is subservient to the ultimate aim - musical composition. (Source - John Dack, "Systematising the Unsystematic" - Paper presented at the Arts Symposium of the International Conference for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics, Baden-Baden, Germany, August, 1999)


See also:

Morphologie (Morphology), Schaefferian Theory, Typo-morphologie (Typo-morphology), Typologie (Typology)



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