Acousmatic Storytelling: A compositional approach




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


The purpose of this research is to explore the idea of relating storytelling with acousmatic music in the creation of a hybrid vehicle for transmitting stories, to develop a compositional methodology derived from the exploration of the synergy between storytelling techniques and acousmatic practice and to deliver works, which facilitate reinvention of the experience and memory for listeners. While particular attention is focused on acousmatic works, the research presented in this exegesis also explores the theory of storytelling in more general terms, with evaluation of its potential to inform the development of acousmatic works. This thesis is inspired by the work of specialists of storytelling theory (e.g. Todorov, Le Poidevin and Davidson) and their views on the elements of storytelling, and continues to investigate storytelling elements in the repertoire of acousmatic music and the use of the voice as a means of imparting a story with composers such as L. Ferrari, H. Westerkamp, D. Derbyshire, C. Calon and J. Young providing especially pertinent examples. The hypothesis and theoretical analysis were practically tested and implemented in the five acousmatic works created for this particular project. This research reveals the potential for acousmatic creativity to reach new audiences (in terms of age, culture, nationality) by blending culture-specific storytelling with acousmatic practice, proposing in that way a renewal of the musical vernacular of acousmatic music. By integrating archival recordings, interviews, transformed sounds, and referential sounds, the microphone and recorded medium became a time machine, ‘thought capturer’ and a conduit for conveying cultural information. All these elements combined with the sonic world composed in the studio are creating a hybrid form of acousmatic work, a subgenre which I define as acousmatic storytelling. The notion of musicality, the definition of acousmatic storytelling as well as concepts and, terms and definitions of acousmatic music are presented in Chapter 1. The ! 3! portfolio was created having as a conceptual basis elements and techniques of storytelling and story construction which are presented in Chapter 2, together with an examination of works identifying ways in which acousmatic composers have used storytelling within their own work. In Chapter 3 the creative approach applied in the works of this portfolio is presented, both as concepts and methodology. This research is useful for all those working with recorded sound because it offers an approach to sonic creativity based on storytelling techniques, and provides a universal perspective of the composer who can now be seen as historian, journalist, author as well as musician. It also provides the means to engage a broader audience with the practice of acousmatic music.





Research Institute