Sound and Music

Petri Kuljuntausta: Sound & Music


Music is one type of sound design? What are the ingredients of music? There was recently a discussion about these subjects between my colleges. Here are my comments concerning the topic.

[“Music is a special case of sound, and composing and creating music can be seen as one type of sound design.”]

This is true. We could also use the concept of ‘organized sound’. After this the following sentence is more problematic:

[“- the idea of making music out of non-musical sound sources…”]

What really are ‘non-musical sound sources’? I think all sounds are possible material for musical composition, as well as all sound creating sources (machines, objects, etc) are possible instruments for music making.

Sometimes there is totally nothing to hear in musical composition (-> conceptual music). 🙂

You wrote:

[“What are the ingredients of music? … my definition:
* melody
* harmony
* rhythm
* timbre”]

‘Melody’ and ‘Harmony’ are basic elements in traditional music, but I think these are the most un-universal parameters in music making. We don’t have to use pitches (restricted sound frequencies) to make music.

Old definitions should be updated. All these (mentioned) parameters could basically work well with sound-based music too, but they need to be adapted into new environment (correlate w/ present day situation).

Traditional music is based on pitches, but in electronic music we could talk about the use of “sound gestures” (instead of pitches). When I am thinking about harmony, then I look how the sounds are vertically put together (or how they sound together in soundscape recording). Timbre is timbre in both cases. And rhythm: we could analyze electronic composition rhythmically, like, for example, focusing on rhythmical use of water-drops and analyzing how composer has created variations / transitions from that pulsating source material.

In traditional music there is begin and end, the works are based on linear thinking. But as we all know, this has changed radically during recent decades. It is part of the progress…

In my own thinking the tradition of music continues in Electronic music / Digital music / New Media Composition. I don’t want to stop the continuum of music tradition, we should take all these recent developments / innovations happened during the last decades as new ingredients in the aesthetical and technological progress of music.