A systems-theoretical approach to spatial electronic music practices

Cakmak, Omer Cem
Thumbnail Image
Other Contributors
Hamilton, Rob
Bahn, Curtis
Century, Michael
Braasch, Jonas
Issue Date
Electronic arts
Terms of Use
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
This is a practice-based research in spatial electronic music composition, performance and observation. The current state of the art includes many different technologies, approaches and organizations that remain separated due to incompatible tools, institutional structures or lack of aesthetics. This research undertakes a systems-theoretical investigation that performs systemic research and creative music practice in tandem with a methodology where both the research and the practice components seek to inform and improve each other.
This eventually develops into a criticism of technological utopias embedded in post-modern theory as well as the development of virtual reality, echoing the cybernetic art movements explored in Chapter 1. From this third and final research inquiry, the research concludes that spatial music systems must demonstrate a use of technology where physical and structural restrictions are mitigated, and the perceptual mediation of observations are more apparent. Chapter 6 thus conducts the final study of the research, od, a web-based spatial environment for binaural listening. Proposing a workflow that relies on methods over technology to produce spatial multimedia, the study further expands it for aesthetic intentions. The final chapter wraps up the research with a summary of the chapters followed by a list of conclusions that address the ST methodology used, spatial electronic music practices, prevalent technologies and the impact of belief systems.
The structure of the dissertation displays three interdisciplinary inquiries and three music studies interlaced together; research examines history, literature and art with respect to the subject in focus, and practice follows the research in order to facilitate the proposed methods and provide critique to stimulate the research that follows it. Chapter 1 frames Systems Theory: its historical development, inherent issues, methods and applications in the creative arts and human studies. This will provide the rest of the research with a dialectical methodology to specialize in spatial music practices and generalize in humanities research. Chapter 2 describes a quadraphonic music study taalq and its systemic composition approach that models North Indian ta ̄l theory as a spatialization strategy; after comparing three performances of the piece in terms of an audience-performer-sound system relationship, the study leads the research towards the issue of the observer in spatial music practices. Chapter 3 reviews a set of observer-centered research starting with physics and mathematical logic that impacts other research in biology and social sciences. Here the chapter focuses on observer mechanics and second-order phenomena, extending our focus to sound perception by grouping acoustic and psycho-acoustic events together as second-order hearing. As a result an observer-centric evaluation scheme is proposed for spatial music systems that will inform the second practical study. Chapter 4 again delves into practice, this time with a multi-channel system designed specifically for the space it is situated in, as well as a composition that can adapt to other loudspeaker configurations. Investigating approaches to spatial experience and sound diffusion, n ̈otr was developed, a 43-channel acousmonium that attempts to form a stronger relationship between the observer, system aspects and observed system aspects. An evaluation of the second spatial music study revealed flaws in the observer-centered method, in that it did not account institutional characteristics that mediate and alter the observer’s perception and experience. Chapter 5 thus continues the research by investigating power definitions and structures in ST, and attempts to improve the methodology by incorporating other methods.
Overall, the dissertation is a nexus of research in engineering, history, philosophy, logic, technology, society, archaeology and culture in connection with spatial electronic music practices. This dissertation aims to provide a methodology for practitioners and researchers to inquire into the characteristics and inherent issues in multi-channel electroacoustics with an interdisciplinary approach.
August 2020
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Dept. of the Arts
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
CC BY-NC-ND. Users may download and share copies with attribution in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. No commercial use or derivatives are permitted without the explicit approval of the author.