Scoring the listener: Notation and representation in acousmatic music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Acousmatic music is constructed in theory as a form of expression mediated only by the ear. Constructing their work as ‘bracketing’ the presence of sounding bodies and spaces, acousmatic composers and theorists claim to privilege concrete encounters with the structure of audition itself. Early accounts framed this phonocentrism as a necessary response to global mass mediation. And yet, visual representations of acousmatic music abound, notably in the form of ‘listening scores’ for use in research and pedagogy. This chapter asks what visual representations of acousmatic music can tell us about the practical and epistemological frameworks embedded in acousmatic practice. Gathering policy reports, pedagogical material, and accounts of studio orientation in 1970s France and Quebec, it shows how acousmatic composers, deeply involved in contemporary efforts to reform education around new ideals of democratic citizenship and media literacy, worked to transform musical listening from a form of ‘passive’ reception to an ‘active’ participatory engagement. More than a simple representation of an otherwise unmediated act, the listening score helped train listeners to exercise a sense of proprietorship over their musical experiences that could only make sense in a soundscape saturated by media commodities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterial Cultures of Music Notation
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Musical Inscription
EditorsFloris Schuiling, Emily Payne
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780429342837
ISBN (Print)9780367359522
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

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