Organised Sound

Research Article

Reflections on sound image design in electroacoustic music

John Younga1

a1 Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH email:


The capacity for electroacoustic music to project and manipulate sonic images is now acknowledged as a cornerstone of the medium's aesthetic potential. The notion of imagery may be used in a range of ways, reflecting electroacoustic music's potential to present sound ‘documents’ re-contextualised from real-world experience, as well as to project more abstract entities in which the concept of an image may give coherent form to fantastical constructs, frequently driven by the transforming and distortive effects of signal processing. This paper investigates the practical application of these distinctions in electroacoustic music, largely through reflective discussion of the author's own working methods, and evaluates ways in which the aesthetic effects of signal processing can influence the nature and construction of sound images. Within this, Denis Smalley's concept of the indicative field is used as a conceptual tool for the characterisation and analysis of the affective dimensions of sound image construction and manipulation.