Spectromorphological analysis of sound objects: an adaptation of Pierre Schaeffer's typomorphology

Thoresen, Lasse, Hedman, Andreas


Organised Sound 12(2): 129-141.

Language: English

The last fifty years has witnessed an enormous development with regard to sound production, and has opened a new world of novel aural experiences. In order to be able to articulate and discuss these experiences there is a need for a corresponding novel set of terms and concepts. Such a terminology would also be relevant for analytical and interpretive approaches to electroacoustic music, avant-garde Western music, and ethno music. Pierre Schaeffer's typomorphology, developed in the 1960s, proposed a variety of novel terms, but they have not been of widespread use, since they unfortunately did not lend themselves very well for practical analysis. The present paper intends to develop Schaeffer's approach in the direction of a practical tool for conceptualising and notating sound quality. While carefully reducing the sometimes-bewildering number of terms found in Schaeffer's work, it introduces a set of graphic symbols apt for transcribing electroacoustic music in a concise score. The analysis of sound objects calls for a specific listeners' intention, called reductive listening.