Framing Sound
: From musical Atoms to Musical Worlds a Reflection on my Recent Compositional Practice

  • Pablo Galaz Salamanca

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The submitted portfolio consists of eight pieces written for solo or chamber ensemble (two to four performers) with live electronics. This accompanying thesis outlines the compositional work presented in the portfolio, focusing on notions of relatedness, connectivity and musical networks. The eight pieces of my portfolio were composed with the aim of conciliating a physical and corporeal approach to instrumental writing with systems of formalisation and contrapuntal structures. This reflects a personal interest in overcoming the opposition between aspects of music-making that are frequently seen as dichotomies—e.g., embodied versus symbolic; sound versus score; perceptual versus cognitive; concrete versus abstract. While my practice is characterised by amassing and assembling fragments of sound, sketches, and abstract structures, my ultimate goal is to connect these motley materials in order to create webs of relationships and distinct musical “worlds.” Drawing on Nelson Goodman’s notion of worldmaking, I describe the motivations as well as the principal methods, techniques and strategies common to my work. Goodman’s concept of exemplification is particularly relevant in this thesis; it is used to describe several aspects of my practice, and it forms the basis of a proposal for a personal conception of musical objects, as well as of structural and formal networks. In this thesis, musical objects are conceived as multidimensional entities with multiple, intricate, and variable features; the term framing encapsulates the various processes involved in the creation of networks and connections. Several examples from the portfolio are used to illustrate methods, techniques and procedures in the central chapters of the thesis. Two cases studies are presented at the end, in which two works of my portfolio are discussed at length. The reflection on my practice carried out during my PhD led me to further develop a personal and original approach to formalisation that not only covers discrete parameters but that can also incorporate non-measurable elements, such as gestures, timbre, movement and metaphorical descriptions of sound events. It also led me to devise new and original strategies for dealing with repetition, variation and recontextualisation. This thesis sheds light on the specificities of how these strategies came together and have been used in my recent work.
Date of Award11 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAaron Cassidy (Main Supervisor) & Frédéric Dufeu (Co-Supervisor)

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