Courses in Electroacoustic Music & Art



Instructor: Barry Truax, K-9676, 778-782-4261, email:

Website: &

Course Description:

An advanced examination of the aesthetics, technology and compositional approaches of electroacoustic music, both historically and currently, including the analysis of works. Lab work will include multi-track recording and mixing, sampling, signal processing, digital editing and effects processing..

Texts: J. Chadabe, Electric Sound, Prentice-Hall 1997 (ML 1380 C43 1997)

S. Emmerson (ed.), The Language of Electroacoustic Music. Macmillan, 1986. (ML 1092 L35).

FPA. 347 Readings (on reserve in Library and at: (ID & password required)


P. Manning, Electronic and Computer Music. Oxford University Press, second edition 1993 (ML 1380 M36 1993), third edition 2004 (ML 1380 M36 2004).

B. Schrader, Introduction to Electroacoustic Music. Prentice-Hall, 1982. (ML 1092 S35).

T. Wishart, On Sonic Art, S. Emmerson, ed., Harwood Academic Publishers, 1996. (ML3805 W58 1996) plus CD

S. Emmerson, ed., Music, Electronic Media and Culture. Ashgate, 2000 (ML 1380 M86 2000)

S. Emmerson, Living Electronic Music. Ashgate, 2007. (ML 1380 E46 2007)

G. Young, The Sackbut Blues: Hugh Le Caine, Pioneer in Electronic Music. National Museum of Science and Technology, 1989 (ML 410 L52 Y68)

P. Oliveros, Software for People: Collected Writings 1963-80, Smith, 1984. (ML 60 O44 1984)

K. Norman, Sounding Art: Eight Literary Excursions through Electronic Music. Ashgate, 2004 (ML 1380 N67 2004)

M. Simoni, ed. Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music, Routledge, 2006. (ML 1380 A53 2006)

Analysis in Electroacoustic Music, Proceedings of the Academy of Electroacoustic Music, Bourges, 1996, part II. (ML 1380 I5 1996)

Contemporary Music Review (ML 197, C752) vol 3(1) Analysis; vol 6(1) Live Electronics; vol 10(2), Timbre composition; vol. 15(1-2), A Poetry of Reality.

Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press.

J. Appleton and R. Perera, eds., The Development and Practice of Electronic Music, Prentice-Hall, 1975. (ML 3817 A66)

Recommended Websites:

Canadian Electroacoustic Community: (see eContact! Articles)

EARS website:

Electronic Music Foundation:

Grading: Grading will be based on a letter grade average of three projects, plus mid-term. A set of studio exercises, and a short compositional project, each worth 30%, and the mid-term and an essay analyzing an electroacoustic work, each worth 20%.

Mid-Term: The mid-term exam will cover the concepts found in The Language of Electroacoustic Music readings, plus factual information on the composers, pieces, and studios as described in Electric Sound and the articles in the course reader. The format of the quiz is a choice of essay-style topics from a list announced in advance.

Seminar Topics and Readings:

All readings are to be done for the seminar on the date shown. The readings are identified by author as in the Electronic Music Articles (see Index, pp. 4-5). Note: TLEM refers to The Language of Electroacoustic Music. ES refers to Electric Sound.


Week 1

Timbre I: Mimetic and Aural Discourse.

TLEM ch. 2 (Emmerson)
Article 1a (Raaijmakers).
ES Preface & ch. 1

Week 2

Timbre II: Sound Symbolism.

TLEM ch. 3 (Wishart)
Article 2a (Young)

Week 3

Timbre III: Spectro-morphology.

Article 3 (Smalley) or TLEM ch. 4 (Smalley), pp. 61-80.
Articles 3b, 3c (Young, Lewis)

Week 4

Origins I: Varèse and Berio, The Liberation of Sound.

ES ch. 2.
Articles 5-6 (Varèse, Berio), Interview (Schrader, p. 179, Berio). Article 4 (Cross) 109-112.
Ref: Manning, ch. 1 & 4

Week 5

Origins II: Schaeffer and the Acousmatic Tradition.

Articles 7-10 (Zapf/Schaeffer, Palombini, Dack, Harley).
Manning, ch. 2. Article 4 (Cross) 112-115.
ES ch. 3.

Week 6

Origins III: Stockhausen and Electronic Music.

Articles 11-16 (Stuckenschmidt, Stockhausen, Toop, Pousseur).
Manning, ch. 3.
Article 4 (Cross) 115-119.

Week 7

Origins IV: The Americas, Tape and Electronic Music Studios.

ES ch. 4 & 6 (pp. 140-157).
Article 17 (Ussachevsky). Interview (Schrader, p. 184-193, Oliveros & Subotnick). Article 4 (Cross) 120-124, Article 4a (Dal Farra).
Ref: Manning, ch. 5

Week 8

Origins V: Canada, Hugh LeCaine to the CEC.

Articles 19-23 (Gilmor, Lake, Guérin, Keane, Lewin-Richter & Lanza)

Week 9

Today I: Electroacoustic Music on Tape and the Art of Diffusion.

Articles 24-29 (Williams, Austin, Clozier, Doherty, Harrison, MacDonald)

Week 10

Today II: Composing for Instruments and Tape/Live Electronics.

ES ch. 8.
Articles 31-32 (Emmerson, Pennycook)

Week 11

Today III: The Acousmatic Tradition.

Articles 33-38 (Guérin, Dhomont, Normandeau, Roy, Mountain, Dusman)

Week 12

Today IV: Gender, Plunderphonics and New Media.

Articles 39-45 (Bosma, McCartney, Oswald, Holm-Hudson, Gibson, Cascone)

Week 13

Today V: Soundscape Composition and the Electroacoustic Community.

Articles 46-49 (Richard, Norman, Truax, Emmerson).


Exercises and Projects:

Your grade will be based solely on the following projects, weighted equally in determining the final grade, unless otherwise requested, plus the mid-term:

(1) One compositional exercise (during the first half of the semester).

(2) One independent compositional project (during the second half of the semester).

(3) One major term paper, as a follow-up to the seminar work.


Project 1 (compositional exercises) week 7.
Mid-term review of seminar readings, week 9.
Project 3 (term paper) week 11
Project 2 (compositional project) 1 week after the end of classes

Project Notes:

The compositional work will centre around use of the various systems available in EMS 2 for sound processing and composition, including ProTools and other software. The techniques will be demonstrated to you during the lab periods and documentation will be provided. It is up to you to complete the projects during your own work periods.

Project 1: An exercise dealing with the design of sound material (i.e. an emphasis on timbre) and the design of a compositional control structure:

A short compositional project using processed sampled material. You should document each sound that you create by noting the circuit and parameters involved in sufficient detail that the sound could be reproduced if necessary. You may wish to confine your work to one type of source material, but use only two at most. The documentation should include a short description of the most important sound files you've created, and an evaluation of how you've used the material in your exercise following the ideas found in The Language of Electroacoustic Music readings. The sounds should be assembled into a short composition in order to indicate how they might work structurally. Suggested duration: 2-3 minutes.

On your DAT or CD you should include examples of your source materials, typical transformations, as well as the completed project.

Project 2: A compositional project using ProTools mixed down onto DAT or CD, using processed source materials. Suggested duration: 5-7 minutes.

Project 3: Write an essay analyzing any work of Electroacoustic Music arising from the seminar work and readings. Length should be in range of 10-12 pages (2500 - 3000 words). The essay should include an analysis of at least one piece of music, details of its technical realization and compositional process where available, and an evaluation of the work's effectiveness in communicating with a listener. You should also situate the analyzed work or topic within its historical electroacoustic context by referencing the course readings or other materials.All texts you've referenced should be listed in a Bibliography. Web references may be used to supplement, not replace the course readings, and should be documented appropriately.


Works for the seminar listening sessions will be drawn from the repertoire listed below. Most of these works (or others by the same composer) can also be heard in the Fine Arts Room in the Library. Those not heard in class, or those heard only as excerpts, should be listened to there.

Week 1

Denis Smalley, Pentes (1974)
Jan Boerman, Composition 1972
Yves Daoust, Quatuor (1979)
World Soundscape Project, Summer Solstice (1974)
Jack Body, Musik Dari Jalan (1974)
Michael McNabb, Dreamsong (1978)

Week 2

Trevor Wishart, Red Bird (1977)
Luciano Berio, Visage (1961)

Week 3

Denis Smalley, The Pulses of Time (1979-80)
Denis Smalley, Darkness After Time's Colours (1976)
Denis Smalley, Vortex (1982)

Week 4

Edgard Varèse, Poème électronique (1958) quad
Luciano Berio, Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (1958)
Sten Hanson, Che (1968), How Are You (1969)
Léo Küpper, Litanea (1988)
Zoltan Pongracz, Madrigal (1980)
Barry Truax, The Blind Man (1979)

Week 5

Pierre Schaeffer, Etude pathétique (1948)
Pierre Schaeffer, Objets liés no. 2 from Etude aux objets (1959)
Pierre Schaeffer & Pierre Henry, Symphonie pour un homme seul (1950)
Iannis Xenakis, Concret P-H II (1958); Orient-Occident (1959-60)
Bernard Parmegiani, Dedans-Dehors (1977)
François Bayle, Grande Polyphonie (1974)
Christian Clozier, Quasars (1980)
Françoise Barrière, Aujourd'hui (1977)
Beatriz Ferreyra, Rio de los pajaros (1998), Echos (1978)

Week 6

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Studie II (1953), Gesang der Jünglinge (1955-56) quad
Bengt Hambraeus, Doppelrohr II (1955)
Jan Morthenson, Neutron Star (1967)
Ton Bruynèl, Relief (1964), Soft Song (1974)
Michael Obst, Crystal World Part I (1983-85)
Lothar Voigtlaender, Maikäfer Flieg (1984)
Elzbieta Sikora, Aquamarina (1998)

Week 7

John Cage, Williams Mix (1952)
Ussachevsky/Luening, Incantation (1953); Piece for Tape Recorder (1956)
Kenneth Gaburo, Fat Millie's Lament; Lemon Drops (1965)
James Tenney, Collage #1 "Blue Suede" (1961)
Steve Reich, Come Out (1966)
Pauline Oliveros, Jar Piece (1966); I of IV (1966)
Morton Subotnick, Touch (1969)
Pril Smiley, Kolyosa (1970)
Charles Amirkhanian, Just (1972)
Sergio Barroso, Yantra IV (1975)

Week 8

Hugh LeCaine, Dripsody (1955), Ninety-Nine Generators (1956)
Istvan Anhalt, Electronic Composition No. 3 (1959)
Myron Schaeffer, Voices and Bells (1961)
Paul Pedersen, For Margaret, Motherhood & Mendelssohn (1971)
David Keane, In Memoriam: Hugh LeCaine (1978)
Philippe Ménard, Maqam-à-Toi (1977)
Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux, Zones (1971-72)
Bengt Hambraeus, Tides (1974) quad
Phillip Werren, Vortex (1970)
Hildegard Westerkamp, Whisper Study (1975)
Barry Truax, She, a Solo (1973)

Week 9

Trevor Wishart, Vox-V (1986) quad
Åke Parmerud, Repulse (1986)
Wende Bartley, Ocean of Ages Revealed (1991)
Frances White, Valdrada (1988)
Paul Dolden, Below the Walls of Jericho (1988-89)
Justice Olsson, Up! (1990)
Jonty Harrison, Unsound Objects (1995)
Natasha Barrett, Little Animals (1997)

Week 10

Denis Smalley, Clarinet Threads (1985)
Javier Alvarez, Papalotl (1987)
Horacio Vaggione, Tar (1987)
Barry Truax, Tongues of Angels (1988)
Vivian Rudow, With Love (1986)
Emmanuele Casale, Studio
Andrew Hugill, Pianolith

Week 11

Francis Dhomont, Novars (1989)
Marcelle Deschênes, Big Bang II (1987), Lux Aeterna (1989)
Jean Piché, Steal The Thunder (1984)
Gilles Gobeil, Rivage (1986)
Robert Normandeau, Mémoires Vives (1989)
Serge Arcuri, Murmure (1989)

Week 12

Steve Gibson, Spasm (1993)
Alain Thibault, God's Greatest Gift from OUT (1985)
John Oswald, Burrows (1974-75), DAB
Arthur Kampela, Textorias (1994)
Roxanne Turcotte, Minisérie (1990)
Hildegard Westerkamp, Breathing Room
Andra McCartney, Arcade 94
Claude Schryer, ABBNF
CEC, DISContact I & II, Présence
Computer Music Journal Anthology, 2000 (glitch works, Cascone, ed.)

Week 13

World Soundscape Project, Entry to the Harbour (1973); Vancouver New Year's Eve
Hildegard Westerkamp, Beneath the Forest Floor (1992), Talking Rain (1997) octo
Claude Schryer, Vancouver Soundscape Revisited (1996)
Barry Truax, Pacific Fanfare (1996), Pendlerdrøm (1997) , Island (2000) octo




1. Simon Emmerson, "The Relation of Language to Materials," chapter 2.

1a. Dick Raaijmakers, "Jan Boerman and electronic composition," Keynotes, no. 5, 1977, 45-49.

2. Trevor Wishart, "Sound Symbols and Landscapes," chapter 3.

2a. John Young, "Sign Language: Source Recognition of Environmental Sounds in Electroacoustic Music," Canzona, 1991, 22-29.

3. Denis Smalley, "Spectromorphology: explaining sound-shapes," Organised Sound, 2(2), 1997, 107-26.

3a. Denis Smalley, "Spectro-morphology and Structuring Processes," chapter 4.

3b. John Young, "The Electroacoustic Music of Denis Smalley," Music in New Zealand, Summer 1993, 14-19.

3c. Andrew Lewis, "Motion and the Analysis of Electroacoustic Music," Journal of the Electroacoustic Music Association of Great Britain, n.d.



4. Lowell Cross, "Electronic Music, 1948-1953," Perspectives of New Music, 7(1), 1968, 32-65.

4a. Ricardo Dal Farra, "Some Comments about Electroacoustic Music and Life in Latin America," Leonardo Music Journal, 4, 1994, 93-94.

5. Edgard Varèse, "The Liberation of Sound," (edited and annotated by Chou Wen-chung), Perspectives of New Music, 5(1), 1966, 11-19.

6. Luciano Berio, Record jacket notes for Thema, reproduced in G. Ciamaga, "The Tape Studio," in J. Appleton and R. Perera, eds., The Development and Practice of Electronic Music, Prentice-Hall, 1975.

7. Pierre Schaeffer, "Sound and the Century: A Socio-Aesthetic Treatise," (translated and introduced by Donna Zapf), Vanguard, Feb. 1980, 6-12.

8. Carlos Palombini, "Pierre Schaeffer: From Research into Noises to Experimental Music," Computer Music Journal, 17(3), 1994, 14-19.

9. John Dack, "A la recherche de l'instrument perdu: Instrumental Notions of Schaefferian Theory," Journal of Electroacoustic Music, 7, 1993, 14-15.

10. James Harley, "The Electroacoustic Music of Iannis Xenakis," Computer Music Journal, 26(1), 2002, pp. 36-57.

11. H. H. Stuckenschmidt, "The Third Stage," Die Reihe, no. 1, 11-13.

12. Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Actualia," Die Reihe, no. 1, 45-51.

13. Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Music and Speech," Die Reihe, no. 6, 57-64.

14. Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Music in Space, Die Reihe, no. 5, 67-72.

14a. Karlheiz Stockhausen, Gesang der Jünglinge, CD liner notes.

15. Richard Toop, "Stockhausen and the Sine-Wave: The Story of an Ambiguous Relationship," The Musical Quarterly, 65(3), 1979, 379-391.

15a. Richard Toop, "Stockhausen's Electronic Works: Sketches and Work-Sheets from 1952-1967," Interface, 10, 1981, 149-197 (excerpts)

16. Henri Pousseur, "Calculation and Imagination in Electronic Music," Electronic Music Review, no. 5, 1968, 21-29.

17. Vladimir Ussachevsky, "Notes on A Piece For Tape Recorder," The Musical Quarterly, 46, 202-209.

18. Frits Weiland, "Notation," in Musical Aspects of the Electronic Medium, Institute of Sonology, 1975, 61-81.



19. Alan Gilmor, "Hugh Le Caine: A Pioneer in Electronic Sound Generation," The Canadian Composer, Feb. 1976, 32-36.

20. Larry Lake, "Electronic Music: A Canadian Art," Musicanada, Sept. 1979, 18-19.

21. François Guérin, "A Brief History of Electroacoustic Music in Canada," Radio-Canada International, 1989, 3-11.

22. David Keane, "Electroacoustic Muaic," in Istvan Anhalt, Pathways and Memory, R. Elliott & G. Smith. eds/ McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001, 132-163.

23. Andres Lewin-Richter & Alcides Lanza, "On Hugh Le Caine", Musicworks, 83, 2002, 42-51.



24. Tom Williams, "Vox V by Trevor Wishart: The Analysis of an Electroacoustic Tape Piece," Journal of Electroacoustic Music, 7, 1993, 6-12.

25. Kevin Austin, "On Sound Projection," Contact! 8(2), 1995, 55-67.

26. Christian Clozier, "Presentation of the Gmebaphone concept and the Cybernephone instrument," Académie Internationale de Musique Electroacoustique/Bourges, vol. 3, 1997.

27. Douglas Doherty, "Sound Diffusion of Stereo Music over a Multi-Loudspeaker Sound System," Journal of Electroacoustic Music, vol. 11, 1998.

28. Jonty Harrison, "Sound, Space, Sculpture," Organised Sound, 3(2), 1998, 117-27.

29. Alistair MacDonald, "Performance Practice in the Presentation of Electroacoustic Music," Journal of Electroacoustic Music, vol. 11, 1998.

30. Joji Yuasa, "Theater as an Environmental Medium," Perspectives of New Music, 31(2), 1993, 192-209.

31. Simon Emmerson, "'Local/field': Towards a Typology of Live Electroacoustic Music," Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, 1994, 31-34.

32. Bruce Pennycook, "Live Electroacoustic Music: Old Problems, New Solutions," Journal of New Music Research, 26, 1997, 70-95.

33. François Guérin, "Between Departure and Arrival: A Look at Francis Dhomont," CD notes, Empreintes Digitales.

34. Robert Normandeau, "Cinema for the Ear," Proceedings of the CEC Electroacoustic Days, Banff, 1989.

35. Francis Dhomont, "Is there a Quebec sound?", Organised Sound, 1(1), 1996, 233-8.

36. Stéphane Roy, "Form and Referential Citation in a Work by Francis Dhomont," Organised Sound, 1(1), 1996, 29-41.

37. Rosemary Mountain, "Creating and Contributing: The Expansive Spirit of Marcelle Deschenes," Musicworks, 86, 2003, 15-21.

38. Linda Dusman, "No Bodies There: Absence and Presence in Acousmatic Performance," in Music and Gender, P. Moisala & B. Diamond, eds., University of Illinois Press, 2000.

39. Hannah Bosma, "Male and Female Voices in Computer Music," Proc. of the International Computer Music Conference, Banff, 1995, 139-142.

40. Andra McCartney, "Inventing Metaphors and Metaphors for Invention: Women Composers' Voices in the Discourse of Electroacoustic Music," in Canadian Music: Issues of Hegemony and Identity, B. Diamond and R. Witmer, eds., Canadian Scholars Press, 1993.

41. Andra McCartney, "Cyborg Experiences: Contradictions and Tensions of Technology, Nature, and the Body in Hildegard Westerkamp's Breathing Room," in Music and Gender, P. Moisala & B. Diamond, eds., University of Illinois Press, 2000.

42. John Oswald, "Bad Relations: plunderography, pop and weird in DAB," Proceedings of the CEC Electroacoustic Days, Banff, 1989.

43. Kevin Holm-Hudson, "Quotation and Context: Sampling and John Oswald's Plunderphonics," Leonardo Music Journal, 7, 1997, 17-25.

44. Steve Gibson, "Spasm: The Sound of Virtual Reality II," in Arthur Kroker, Spasm, St. Martin's Press, 1993.

45. Kim Cascone, "The Aesthetics of Failure: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Concert Music," Computer Music Journal, 24(4), 2000, 12-18 (cf. Organised Sound 6(3), 2001 and 9(2), 2004, 207-218)

46. Dominique Richard, "Voices in the desert: An ontology of the electroacoustic community," Organised Sound, 2(1), 1997, 5-11.

47. Katharine Norman, "Real-world Music as Composed Listening," Contemporary Music Review, 15(1), 1996, 1-27.

48. Barry Truax, "Soundscape, Acoustic Communication and Environmental Sound Composition," Contemporary Music Review, 15(1), 1996, 49-65.

49. Simon Emmerson, "Aural landscape: musical space," Organised Sound, 3(2), 1998, 135-40.