Chapter 6: Acousmatic Music


Acousmatic music is music for loudspeakers. It is a genre of sonic art that embraces the audio-only listening mode, allowing audiences maximum freedom of imagination in re-creating quasi-visual associations to support the sonic images. It is also a genre that relies on the duality of sound for its communication - the referential and abstract qualities that all sounds possess - to tell stories, develop expectations, create moments of tension and release and feelings of great joy and sorrow. Acousmatic music embraces a totality of sound, where all sounds are considered for their musical and artistic potential, not just those cordoned off for traditional musical purposes. As Landy (2000) states, it 'uses the sound as its unit value, not the note – although the note may of course be seen to be the sound'. The theoretical models use to describe the language of such a sound-based music are comprehensive and profound, and may be applied directly to not only the pure form of acousmatic music, but to all other art disciplines incorporating sound as well as our understanding of how we received information from sound in our everyday lives.