MUSIC 154F | Spring 2018

Electroacoustic Music Analysis

Rodrigo F. Cádiz


Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics - CCRMA

Center for Latin American Studies - CLAS

Stanford University

Course description

Electroacoustic music is a very particular genre, typically involving a high amount of electronic or computational technology, the main characteristic of which is the incorporation of non-musical sound (sounds whose primary intention is clearly not music) into the musical discourse. These sounds are usually highly transformed or distorted compared to how they occur in nature or they are created entirely on a computer, which means that the sound sources are not easily recognizable by the listeners. Also, this music usually lacks a score or graphical representation, it is often presented solely via an array of loudspeakers, and the performers might use a laptop or a mixing board instead of an acoustical instrument.

This kind of music presents several challenges to the listeners and the analysts: How do we listen to such music? How can we understand how it is structured? How it works? and How the musical discourse flows?

This course will explore the most important methodologies for analysis of electroacoustic music that have been proposed in the literature. Class meetings include lectures, listening sessions, and student discussions of relevant literature and analysis of works . Assignments include weekly readings, homework, and a final project.

Course information

When : 04/02/2018 - 06/06/2018 Mon, Wed 10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
Where : Knoll317, CCRMA [map]
Office hours : By email to
Syllabus : click here
Pre-requisite : Basic musical proficiency is required. Experience with programming, music analysis, or music perception/cognition is desirable.
What we will do in class : Basically, listen to tons of multi-channel cool electroacoustic music and try to understand how they work, and how they make sense to us.


Access pdf files here (requires password)

Monday 04-02-18 CLASSROOM
Introduction to the class.
Wednesday 04-04-18 STAGE
  1. Why musical analysis?
  1. Emmerson, S. and Landy, L. The analysis of electroacoustic music: the differing needs of its genres and categories. In Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis
  2. Simoni, M. Introduction. In Mary Simoni (ed.) Analytical methods of electroacoustic music.
  1. Pierre Schaffer. Etudes aux chemins du fer (1948)
  2. Karlheinz Stochausen. Studie I (1953)
  3. Bruno Maderna. Musica su due dimensioni (1958)
Monday 04-09-18 CLASSROOM
  1. Electroacoustic music
  1. Decroupet, P. and Ungeheuer, E. Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and Serial Foundations of Gesang der Junglinge. In Licata, T. (ed.) Electroacoustic Music Analysis
  2. Broening, B. Alvin Lucier's I am sitting in a room. In Mary Simoni (ed.) Analytical methods of electroacoustic music.
  1. Alvin Lucier. I am sitting in a room (1969)
  2. Karlheinz Stochausen. Gesang der jünglinge (1955-56)
Wednesday 04-11-18 CLASSROOM
  1. Electroacoustic music
  1. Bring to class one or two pieces subject to be analyzed during the quarter.
Monday 04-16-18 CLASSROOM
  1. Listening strategies
  1. Delalande, François. Music analysis and reception behaviours: Sommeil by Pierre Henry. Journal of new music research 27.1-2 (1998): 13-66.
  2. Smalley, Denis. The listening imagination: listening in the electroacoustic era. Contemporary Music Review 13.2 (1996): 77-107.
  3. Schaeffer, P. 2017. Treatise on Musical Objects. An essay across disciplines. Oakland: University of California Press. Chapters 5 and 6.
Monday 04-23-18 CLASSROOM
  1. First analysis draft
  1. Bring a first draft analysis of two of the chosen pieces.
Monday 04-30-18 CLASSROOM
  1. Spectromorphology
  • Spectro-morphological analysis of Ake Parmerud's Les objets obscures
  • Spectro-morphological and time-fields analysis of Ake Parmerud's Les objets obscures
  • Analysis of Ligeti's Artikulation
  • Readings:
    1. Schaeffer, Pierre. "Analysis of the musical object as it generally appears". In Treatise on Musical Objects, chapter 34.
    2. Smalley, Denis. "Spectromorphology: explaining sound-shapes." Organised sound 2.2 (1997): 107-126.
    3. Smalley, Denis. "Spectro-morphology and structuring processes." The language of electroacoustic music. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 1986. 61-93.
    4. Thoresen, L., & Hedman, A. (2007). Spectromorphological analysis of sound objects: an adaptation of Pierre Schaeffer's typomorphology. Organised Sound, 12(2), 129-141.
    5. Thoresen, L. (2009). Sound-objects, Values and Characters in Åke Parmerud’s Les objets obscurs, 3rd Section. Organised sound, 14(3), 310-320.
    6. Blackburn, M. (2011). The Visual Sound-Shapes of Spectromorphology: an illustrative guide to composition. Organised Sound, 16(1), 5-13.
    Monday 05-07-18 CLASSROOM
    1. Selected published analysis
    1. Bring a second draft analysis of two of the chosen pieces.
    Chapters from the book Expanding the horizons of electroacoustic music.
    1. Pierre Couprie. EAnalysis: developing a sound-based music analytical tool.
    2. Leigh Landy. Trevor Wishart’s Children’s Stories II from Encounters in the Republic of Heaven: an analysis for children of a sample-based composition
    3. Ben Ramsay. Analysis of Foil by Autechre (from Amber (1994))
    4. Ambrose Seddon. Temporal recurrence in Andrew Lewis’s Penmon Point
    5. John Robert Ferguson. Michel Waisvisz: No Backup / Hyper Instruments
    6. Kersten Glandien. Analysing Sound Art: Douglas Henderson’s Fadensonnen (2009)
    7. Manuella Blackburn. Analysing the identifiable: cultural borrowing in Diana Salazar’s La voz del fuelle
    8. Sophy Smith. Kireek 2011 Championship routine analysis
    9. Simon emmerson. The analysis of live and interactive electroacoustic music: Hans Tutschku – Zellen-Linien (2007).
    10. Andrew Hugill and Panos Amelides. Audio-only computer games: Papa Sangre.
    11. Claude Schryer. Some questions around listening: Vancouver Soundscape Revisited.
    Monday 05-14-18 CLASSROOM
    1. Cadiz, R. (draft)
    1. Mid-term analysis.
    Monday 05-21-18 CLASSROOM
    1. TACET and TIAALS tools for analysis
    Wednesday 05-30-18 CLASSROOM
    Review of final projects.
    Friday 06-08-18 CLASSROOM
    Final project deadline.


    This class required the usage of software that could render audio spectrograms, ideally with annotation features. Some possible open source options are:

    About the instructor

    Rodrigo F. Cadiz (1972) is a composer, researcher and engineer. He studied composition and electrical engineering at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago. He obtained his Ph.D. in Music Technology from Northwestern University. His compositions, consisting of approximately 40 works, have been presented at several venues and festivals in Latin America, North America and Europe.

    His catalogue considers works for solo instruments, chamber music, symphonic and robot orchestras, visual music, computers, and new interfaces for musical expression, in particular brain-computer interfaces and the Arcontinuo, a new electronic musical instrument he has been working on with two more colleagues for the past 10 years. He has received several composition prizes and artistic grants both in Chile and the US. He has released two solo CDs with some of his works: Unisono, a double CD, and De Natura Organica, a long-duration composition for organ. He has authored around 40 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and international conferences.

    His areas of expertise include sonification, sound synthesis, audio digital processing, computer and electroacoustic music, composition, new interfaces for musical expression and the musical applications of complex systems. He has obtained research funds from Chilean governmental agencies such as the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (Fondecyt) and the National Council of Culture and the Arts (CNCA). He recently received a Google Latin American Research Award (LARA) in the field of auditory graphs.

    During 2018, Rodrigo will be a composer in residence with the Stanford Laptop orchestra (SLOrk) at the Center for Computer-based Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and a Tinker Visiting Professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University. In the spring quarter of 2018 he will offer a class on Electroacoustic Music Analysis at CCRMA.