Decoding Digital Music: An Exploratory Study into the Possibilities of Psychoacoustic Timbre Analysis
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The analysis of music is a staple of musicology, both as an independent discipline and as a supporting tool for sociologically or cultural analysis. For the analysis of music, many formal frameworks of analysis exist, but most of these are focused on the analysis of classical or art music. No such framework exists for the analysis of popular electronic music. This can be attributed to a few causes, such as the lack of a unified notation system, the relative newness of electronic music and its relatively peripheral status in relation to classical or art music, as far as the academy and conservatory are concerned. Synthesizers, as well as mixing and mastering tools give the DAW an unparalleled ability to manipulate the ways in which we perceive sound, from imposing a sense of spatiality through stereo to manipulating perception of timbre and loudness. Therefore, I propose a framework of electronic music analysis based on the terminology of music production, sound design and psychoacoustics. In this way, an accurate set of terms to describe what is happening in electronic music can be compiled. For this thesis, I will examine current musical works composed with DAW’s and its workflow. In lieu of easily accessible notation I will employ tools like Sonic visualizer to extract information from music by way of spectography, as well as focused listening skills acquired from specialized training. With these tools I hope to create a concrete framework that can aid future research into electronic music.