Forming Form: The bigger picture of electroacoustic music.




Journal Title

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Cambridge University Press


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



Electroacoustic music’s foundation in the electronic mediation of sound—recorded, ‘live’ processed or historical—has opened up the possibility of bringing together sounds of more diverse provenance than ever before for the purposes of musical expression. The consequential problems of integration and context are one of the greatest musical challenges of the genre. This chapter views this problem from the perspective of formal design, since a notion of form in music is a way of thinking about how we engage with a sense of connectedness and completeness in a work. Three core concepts are investigated as ways of characterising and evaluating formal processes in electroacoustic music: Stockhausen’s idea of the ‘moment’, Wishart’s notion of ‘morphic’ form and the broader notion of ‘rhetoric’ where form might be seen to result from the way we give significance to sound events and the implications arising from their interaction in a musical structure. Lastly, the idea of narrative is evaluated as an especially powerful formal device in acousmatic music, drawing together cultural understanding of the implications of sound recording, storytelling and the imaginary associations afforded by sound transformation.



Form in music, electroacoustic music


Young, J. (2016) Forming Form: The bigger picture of electroacoustic music. In: Emmerson, S. and Landy L. (eds.) Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 58-79


Research Institute

Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)