Adapting and applying central Javanese gamelan music theory in electroacoustic composition and performance

Matthews, Charles Michael (2014) Adapting and applying central Javanese gamelan music theory in electroacoustic composition and performance. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis represents an investigation of composition and performance processes from gamelan music (particularly the traditional form karawitan), and the potential for their application in the medium of electroacoustic music. The research was developed through a mixture of theory and practice in a feedback relationship; the written thesis accompanies a portfolio of compositions and arrangements of traditional pieces, alongside software developed in Max/MSP to emulate and expand upon selected aspects of gamelan performance practice. The thesis is divided into two parts. Part I establishes the theoretical foundations for the thesis, introducing key concepts from ethnomusicology, gamelan music, and theory developed for electroacoustic music. Central to the thesis is a notion of “idiom” involving constraints, affordances, and individual expression. While the choice of instruments does not always influence musical style, karawitan presents examples of established instrumental roles in relation to a central framework. In the absence of a unified electroacoustic theory, Schaeffer’s musique concrète provides a starting point for discussion. Further ideas are developed using an adaptation of Simon Emmerson’s language grid (1986) to identify situations in which musical information is imposed from elsewhere, developed directly from the sound materials, or a combination thereof. This leads to the proposal of a set of strategies for composition and analysis of new works. Three areas are discussed through a set of case studies: the development of syntax and idiomatic discourse, idiomatic references and their interpretation, and the use of cues to establish discourse. Part II examines the compositions developed during the research. A description of the overall composition framework and technical considerations is presented, in which abstract algorithmic-oriented approaches are compared with a more concrete approach to sound. A general commentary leads into the description and analysis of works in the portfolio based on the methods exposed in the body of the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
B. > Theses
Item ID: 14415
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2015 16:22
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2016 07:51
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/14415

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