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for lAcousmographe 3.7

The Aural Sonology Project is a novel approach to the analysis of sonic and
structural aspects of music-as-heard. It has been the aim of the Aural Sonology
project to develop a conceptual structure of analysis and theory that is not uniquely
reserved for a particular compositional style or expression, but addresses music
appreciation in Western art music on a general basis.
A central concern for the project is the development of aural consciousness through a
systematic application of different ways of listening. Audio-visual technology
facilitates the making and the presentation of the aural sonology analyses. The
implementation of the analytical system on the Acousmographe (developed by
INA/GRM) opens a new chapter for the use of the methods.
The approach is particularly useful for dealing with music for which no score
is available (e.g. electroacoustic music) or (instrumental) music in which there is no
simple one-to-one correspondence between score and the aural phenomenon.
The analytical tools are partly oriented towards spectromorphological analysis, partly
towards analysis of form-building features.
The spectromorphological analysis is based on the sound-object, which is constituted
by the listening intention to hear the sound simple as a sound (reductive listening).
The description and categorisation of sound-objects were initiated by P. Schaeffer
and his team at GRM, and published in Trait des objets musicaux (1966). The
Aural Sonology Project has revised his ideas and translated these ideas into a
conceptual structure with corresponding graphic signs. Sound-objects are grouped
into categories and described more closely. These signs are incorporated in the
Aural Sonology Plug-In of the Acousmographe.
Analyses relevant for musical form-building are:
Time-fields (the temporal segmentation of the musical discourse)
Layers (the synchronous segmentation of the musical discourse)
Dynamic form (time directions and energetic shape)
Thematic form (recurrence, variation, and contrast)
Form-building transformations (simple and complex gestalts, transformations
between them (e.g. proliferation/collection, fission/fusion;
The choice of an adequate graphic sign does not happen automatically, but must be
chosen by a user that knows the definition of the signs. They will be found on the
web-site which is under construction. A book documenting
the full project (Lasse Thoresen with the assistance of Andreas Hedman: Emergent
Musical Forms: Aural Explorations) is forthcoming in the publication series Studies in
Music of The University of Western Ontario.
Lasse Thoresen (2013)

IMPORTANT: The Acousmographe version 3.7 or higher must already be installed
before continuing with the Aural Sonology installation.
The Aural_Sonology_Installer_Mac will install the Aural Sonology plug-in,
documentation, templates, and libraries containing all the symbols needed to make
an analysis into the Acousmographe folder. This folder is normally found in the
Application folder.
The computer must be rebooted after installation.
The libraries, containing predefined symbols for notation, will be loaded automatically
when you start the Acousmographe. They will turn up in the Libraries window (press
F5 to open or close this window) and can be displayed by selecting them in the menu
at the top of this window.
The installation process will also put the font Sonova UC, essential for the display of
Aural Sonology signs, into the Library/Fonts folder. Dont confuse this Library folder
(French: le dossier Bibliothque)1 with the one installed by the Acousmographe, they
are two separate things.
Keyboard Layouts, enabling the symbols to be entered with the computer keyboard,
are installed into Library/Keyboard Layouts. However, you might need to activate
them manually.
On Mac OS X 10.5: Open System Preferences/International and select the Input
Menu tab.
On Mac OS X 10.6 and later: Open System Preferences/Language & Text and
select the Input Sources tab.

Activating Keyboard Layouts:

Check the four input methods

beginning with the name
Sonova (and any other you
want to appear in the Finders
Also make sure that the option
Show Input menu in menu bar
is checked.

1 If, for some reason, you need to access the library folder use the Go menu in the Finder. Select Go
to folder and enter ~/library. Since Mac OS X 10.7 Apple has chosen to hide this folder.

Getting Started
Start the Acousmographe and chose Open from the File menu. Open one of the
Templates found in the Acousmogrape folder. They are:


Template Name

A single panel document with some spectromorphological symbols.
A spectrogram panel and a zoomed out overview panel.
Spectrogram, Time-fields & Dynamic Form, and overview.
Spectrogram, Layers, Time-fields & Dynamic Form, and overview.
As no. 1, but with a white background.
Spectrogram with red background and a panel for further analyses.

After opening a template the program will ask you to locate a sound file to analyse.
For this exercise you can chose Cancel.
The benefit of opening a template (instead of creating a New Acousmography) is,
among other things, that the background is already set to a bright colour (symbols
from the library are in black), and that the spectrogram will be set to use a logarithmic
display (i.e. an octave is always the same amount of pixels), instead of an equal
frequency display (where the same amount of pixels is used to describe 0-10,000 Hz
as 10,000-20,000Hz).
Now, select a library from the menu at the top of the Libraries window.

Select two symbols (press shift while clicking to extend the selection). Then drag
them into the Acousmographe window.

Select one of the symbols (you have to click outside the symbols first to deselect
them, then click again on the symbol to select). Drag it on top of the other symbol. As

you drag the symbol, guides (red lines) will appear to help you align the two symbols
Step 2
Grouping symbols:

Step 1. Select both of the symbols

(again, first click outside the symbols,
then click and drag the mouse so that
the selection covers both the symbols.
Step 2. Click the Group button.

Step 1

This image shows the result; a complete

spectromorphological symbol. It can now
be dragged and placed in time and pitch
as a unit.

By dragging the small white circles along the objects blue border, the symbol can be
extended in duration. Notice that the prolongation line extends and contracts. If the
box surrounding the symbol gets to small, the line will automatically disappear and
the symbol will shrink to fit inside.

Setting up the Acousmographe

The first time you open a Template or create a new document, you will be asked to
select a sound file, but you can also do it later by choosing Document Properties

In this dialog you can also change the background colour if you prefer. Setting it to
white colour is the best option if you want to print the analysis to paper (there is in
fact a template setup for printing, located in the Acousmographe folder).
Uncheck Synchronized Panels if you want to work with multiple view panels
with different zoom factors.

Please, refer to the Acousmographe Documentation for explanations of the other


2 The manual is in French, but you can try running it through a good online translation service.

Spectromorphological Notation
The following example, will describe fairly typical steps in making a
spectromorphological description of a sound object. Opening a sound file to listen to
is of course the first step, but being an example we can skip this step in this tutorial.
From the SpectromorphologyLib we first select the appropriate category for the
sound we want to classify, as it is described in the Typology (see Thoresen 2007b for
details about how sounds are classified).
NOTE: If the Library window seems to have disappeared press F5 to display it.
Or, press the Library button:

The SpectromorphologyLib divides the Typology into 6 sections (the symbols in the
other sections in the library belong to what we call Morphology):


Balanced Sound Objects

Sounds with a high spectral fusion, perceived as a single sound.

Gliding Sound Objects

Sounds changing in pitch or mass (e.g. glissando).

Composite Sound Objects

Groups of sounds, fusing to a unit (e.g. a cell, an ostinato).

Accumulated Sound Objects

Internally made up of many sound-objects, but perceived as a unit.

Stratified Sound Objects

Distinct partials are heard with some independence.

Vacillating Sound Objects

Several partials in the sound acting extremely independent.

Each of these 6 sections contains symbols for Pitched, Dystonic (uncertain pitch) and
Complex (noise) sound objects, and their counterparts the simpler components (open
symbols): sine tones, unvoiced sounds, and noise-bands.
Having determined the type and mass of the sound object to be
rendered (in this example we have chosen a complex iterated
sound found in the Balanced Sound Objects section), we
proceed by adding further details. From the library we take a
sharp onset from the Onsets section (scroll down in the library
to see more symbols).
The first 6 symbols are the ones to use for balanced and
gliding sound objects. The 6 symbols below are larger, made to
fit with the Composite, Accumulated, Stratified, and Vacillating
sound objects, as seen below.3

3 This principle applies throughout the morphology sections, the first set of symbols are intended for the
smaller types, if symbols seem to be duplicated the next ones are intended to fit with the larger symbols.

We will also add signs for the granularity of the sound (in this case slow and coarse),
and a sign for the pulse category of the iteration (regular ripple time).
Having chosen all the properties we want to capture in the analysis, it is now time to
assemble the symbols. Drag the symbols so that they are completely aligned on top
of each other.

Select all the symbols again and press the Group Button:

(or press G).

When the objects have been grouped, you can now extend the symbol. The different
objects contained in the group will then realign automatically to make a nice
uncluttered representation.
Before extension

After extension

If you decide to add more details after having grouped and extended the symbol, try
to adjust the bounding box (the blue rectangle) of the added symbol to be exactly the
same size as the one you are adding to. If they are not, and especially if their left
sides dont align, you will experience that they start to drift apart when extending the
symbol or zooming in or out.
Exception to this rule is of course the ending modes; they should be attached
after the symbol has been extended.
Editing Symbols
The Aural Sonology symbols can be edited directly by using the keyboard. To do this
you must first have activated the Keyboard Layouts (see the installation section).

Double clicking an Aural Sonology symbol

takes you into the Edit Mode. At the same
time the Libraries window changes to
display information about the object.

Edit mode is a special state which blocks all access to the normal functions of the
Acousmographe, like menus for example. In this mode only keyboard shortcuts
(A:Select All, X:Cut, C:Copy, V:Paste), arrow keys, and mouse actions
can be used to interact with the editing area. While in edit mode it is currently not
possible to use the undo function, however, after exiting edit mode (by pressing the
Return or esc key) the undo function will work again.
The plug-in automatically changes the Keyboard Layout to
the relevant analysis type. You can see that this is
happening by watching the flag symbol in the right corner
of the menu bar.
Your keyboard now no longer inputs the characters seen
on your keyboards keys, but instead characters (or more
correctly, glyphs) from the Private Use range in the
Unicode standard. This is where the Aural Sonology
symbols are located in the Sonova Font.

The layout of the symbols on the keyboard, for each of the four Sonova keyboard
layouts, can be seen in the document Sonova UC KeyMaps Mac.pdf. This document
is located in the Acousmographe/documents folder, which in turn can be found by
looking in the Applications folder.
The Character Viewer (or Character Palette on Mac OS 10.5)
NOTE: Skip this section if your operating system is Mac OS X 10.7 or 10.8.
Most of the symbols in the Sonova font can be entered by using the keyboard as
described above, but there are some that needs to be accessed using a different
method. On previous systems Apple offered a way to see all characters contained in
a specified font, but since system 10.7 there is no way to indicate what specific font
to view. There are third party solutions that will do this, e.g. PopChar, but they cost
Apart from accessing special
characters, the Character Viewer
will display all the symbols as they
are ordered in the font, giving an
alternative way of finding a
particular symbol.
The Character Viewer is activated
in the System Preferences
Language & Text under Input
sources (on Mac OS X 10.5, these
are called International settings
and Input Menu). Compare the
process with the one described for
Keyboard Layouts in the
Installation section above.

Open the Character Viewer

by using the flag menu.

To access Unicode characters, the

View should be set to Code Tables.
Scroll down to the Private Use Area
and it should look like this:

If what you see differs from the image

on the right, try the following.

Click on the square right next to

E000, then select the Font Variation
arrow and click on Sonova UC

The desired symbol can now be selected by double clicking and it should be entered
into your document (if you are in Edit Mode of course).
The Inspector
The Aural Sonology plug-in has a few parameters that can be edited with the
Inspector. To display the Inspector press function key F3.
Or, press the Inspector button:

The Keyboards menu controls which Key Layout will be

active when entering Edit Mode. Selecting current
disables the automatic Keyboard Layout switch, keeping
your selected language as input method.
Font Size, will change the size of the symbols. But be
aware that the bounding box they are contained in also
influences their size.
Prolongation can be set to sustained (a solid line) or
iterated (a dashed line). It can be removed altogether
from the symbol by choosing none.
To make a glissando set the End menu to up or down.
Changing the prolongation lines Beginning is only used
in conjunction with the Formal Function symbols.4

4 That said the lines might in fact be used without any symbol present. They can then be used creatively
e.g. to build complicated pitch contours.


Trait des objets musicaux. Paris. ditions du Seuil (2nd edition, 1977).
Schaeffer, P. 1966.

Paris. ditions du Seuil (2nd edition, 1977).

Thoresen, L. 1985

Un model danalyse auditive. Analyse Musicale 1: 4459.

Thoresen, L. 1987

An Auditive Analysis of Schuberts Piano Sonata Op. 42. Semiotica, 66(13): 21137.

Thoresen, L. 1988

Auditive Analysis of Musical Structures. A summary of analytical terms, graphical signs

and definitions. Proceedings from ICEM Conference on Electroacoustic Music
Stockholm, Sweden, 25 27 September 1985.

Thoresen, L. 2007a

Form-building Transformations. Journal of Music and Meaning n. 4, spring 2007

Thoresen, L. 2007b

Spectromorphological Analysis of Sound Objects: An adaptation of Pierre Schaeffers

Typomorphology. Organised Sound, 12(2): 129-141. Cambridge University Press.

Thoresen, L. 2009

Sound-objects, Values, and Characters in ke Parmeruds Les Objets Obscurs. With

the assistance of Andreas Hedman. Organised Sound, 14(3) ): 31020. Cambridge
University Press.

Thoresen, L. 2010

Form-building gestalts and metaphorical meaning. With the assistance of Andreas

Hedman. Organised Sound, 15(2): 8295. Cambridge University Press.

Concept and Coordination
Andreas Hedman
Senior Applications Developer
Adrien Lefvre
Additional Programming
Lydie Gustafson.
Andreas Hedman
Lasse Thoresen, Daniel Teruggi

The development of the Aural Sonology plug-in has been sponsored by ina/GRM,
Lindemans Legat and the Norwegian Academy of Music.
The Acousmographe is a registered trademark of L'Institut National de l'Audiovisuel.
Aural Sonology is a registered trademark of Lasse Thoresen.
Aural Sonology plug-in 2013 Andreas Hedman, Lasse Thoresen.
Sonova UC 2012 Karl Andreas Hedman/