Apports et influences de la psychoacoustique en musique contemporaine


Book Section


Lalitte P.




Apports et influences de la psychoacoustique en musique contemporaine

Journal / Livre / Conférence

Théories de la composition musicale au XXe siècle


Since Helmholtz’s seminal book “Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Groundlage für die Theorie der Musik” (1863), psychoacoustics and psychology of music has been a source of inspiration for numerous 20th-century composers. This article examines the different ways in which composers have appropriated the knowledge on auditory perception afforded by the research of Helmholtz, Stumpf, Fletcher, Pierce, Fraisse, Leipp, Bregman, Terhardt, Deutsch, and McAdams. Pre-spectral composer such as Varèse and spectral composers such as Grisey, Murail, Dufourt, Dalbavie or Saariaho developed some scientific-inspired techniques of composition such as combination of tones, musical tension based on roughness and inharmonicity, and perceptual ambiguities based on harmonic or textural fusion. Scientific work in music perception had a major influence on the improvement of digital synthesis experimented at Bell Labs, then at Stanford University's Center for Research in Music and Acoustic, and later at IRCAM in Paris. They found an echo in the electroacoustic works of Tenney, Risset, Chowning, Reynolds, Harvey and many others. Bergman's seminal work in auditory scene analysis provided keys to understanding auditory stream fusion or segregation phenomena that sometimes cause auditory chimeras. Many composers, especially Risset, Reynolds, Ligeti and Reich, have used this knowledge. Work in psychology on time perception, invariance, recognition, and categorization of objects that have been transferred to the musical domain have influenced the compositional thinking of composers such as Stroppa, Reynolds or Murail.



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