Spectromorphology is a term that was first coined by Denis Smalley in his chapter Spectro-morphology and Structuring Processes, which can be found in the. Spectromorphology. Language for explaining sound-‐‑shapes. Adapted from: Dennis Smalley, Department of Music, City University, London. Organised Sound . Abstract. Denis Smalley’s concept of Spectromorphology () provides the listener of electroacoustic music with thorough and accessible sets of vocabulary to.

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Smalley defines three different spectral typologies that exist in what he calls the noise-note continuum.


Smalley, working in electronic environments, must have spectromorphoogy aware of this term, but his brilliance was in translating this structure into musical analytical language. Views Read Edit View history.

There exists three types of spectral space: The term Spectromorphology is an amalgamation of the terms Spectra and Morphology. The two antonyms act as bookends between the vast possibilites of electroacoustic sounds.

Benjamin Talbott

On the fifth distinct note heard, the piece begins to change. The framework within the morphological aspects of Spectromorphology can be summarised by the Onsets, Continuants and Terminations functions, the Motion and Growth processes, Texture motion and Behaviour. Smalley uses four terms to describe this relationship: Spectral density is used to describe how sounds emanate from one another.

The piece then abandons the low harmonic spectra in favour of high harmonics. If we were to go into further detail, we could also argue morphologically that the object begins as separated attack impulses, tracing a smooth line through the iterative form towards granulation, before dissipating.

Spectromorphology | The OREMA project

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. The premise is beautiful, finding oneself musically exploring the innards of the cello for the first time. He stipulates that there are three morphological archetypes, from which all other forms of morphology can be derived. Smalley defines six types of spectral density ranging from high spectromorlhology low: We hear the first bi-directional phrase, as the node, which has been comprised of fairly comprehensible harmonic spectra although changing within itself due to shifting resonant frequencynow begins to diverge as two distinct phenomena can be heard.


All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from January Spectromorphology is the perceived sonic footprint of a sound spectrum as it manifests in time.

These seven characteristics are: Smalley also adds two types of noise; granular and saturate, to describe the perceptual qualities attributed to certain types of noise. Smalley states that the canopy and root can be regarded as “boundary markers” that “frame spectral space” Smalley This continuum is subdivided into three principal elements:. The sub-groups of motion which he identifies as archetypes are: Smalley states that Sprectromorphology is “intended to account for types of electroacoustic music” Smalley He defines three groups that should be regarded as motions: Within each of these three states exists a number of terms to describe the way in which a sound evolves.

Whether they are considered distant or spectrpmorphology and whether they allow other sounds to be heard.

It is not an analytical or compositional system. Smalley’s notion of spectromorphology builds upon Schaeffer’s theories relating to the smaalley of a classification system for various categories of sound. This page was last edited on 21 Augustat Returning to morphologyit is interesting to note that the formalisation of the term ADSR envelope attack, decay, sustain, release was suggested around twenty years earlier by Vladimir Ussachevsky in reference to work he was doing with Bob Moog.

The noise-note continuum is interesting, not only because it implies a deeper ability to spectromoorphology on auditory information by allowing for the almost infinite reduction of focussed analysis, but that all sound is music, and all music is sound — something which was spectromorpholkgy much earlier in the 20 th century by German and French electroacoustic composers but which Schaeffer failed in my opinion to attack properly.

This site uses cookies. We hear this repeated, so far in a linear fashion, the simplest motion. Organised Sound, 2 2pp. Within these groups exists more terminology for describing that particular motion or growth process.

It is almost impossible to put forward a spectromorpholoy statement, so long as the terms are understood properly. It is important to note that although this article will tackle these two terms individually they are inseparable, as one cannot exist without the other. The degree spectomorphology which the analysis is correct then becomes about how true the analysis is of the piece itself — less room is open for subjectivity.


Motion explains a similar concept to morphology, but extends to the overall movement of complex spectroorphology through time. Retrieved from ” https: There are four qualifiers for spectral space, which are based on antonym pairs: Initially these two terms were separated with a hyphen in the publication, but this has subsequently been removed from the publication.

Smalley also designates different morphological archetypes:.

Spectromorphology – Wikipedia

To formalise further, Smalley insists rightly that the spectra the harmonic information cannot exist without morphology, since something which occupies space must also extend in time — hence spectro-morphology. He also suggests that others could “supplement his basic listening with their own analogies” where appropriate Smalley Spectromorphology is first and foremost a set of terms for describing the listening process.

Smalley says that motion is a subconsciously understood concept in traditional composition, as it is the overall harmonic movement against melody which drives musical structures. These tools are intended to be used for “describing and analysing the listening experience” Smalley The work is in five sections, each toeing the line between acoustic and electroacoustic. I have found Spectromorphology to be an incredibly useful technique in analysis.

Therefore, Spectromorphology can be considered a glossary of terms, within defined frameworks, that can be used to describe how one experiences specific electroacoustic musics.

Simply put, the Note to Noise continuum is how one describes the spectral content of a sound.