Vortrag | Lecture
Zimmer 4006, Universität Mozarteum
CURTIS ROADS | Sonic Narrative
A composition can be likened to a being that is born out of nothing. Like all of us, it is a function of
time. It grows and ambles, probing and exploring a space of possibilities before it ultimately
expires. This birth, development, and death make up a sonic narrative.
Every level of structure, from sections to phrases, individual sounds, and even grain patterns
follows its own narrative. Individual sounds come into being and then form complementary or
opposing relationships with other sounds. These relationships evolve in many ways. Sounds clash,
fuse, harmonize, or split into multiple parts. The relationship can break off suddenly or fizzle out
slowly. Eventually, all the sounds expire, like characters in a sonic play.
A compelling sonic narrative is the backbone of an effective piece of music. The active human
mind imbues perceptual experiences with meaning: what we see and hear signifies or represents
something. Thus sound, like other sensory stimuli, is representational. Even abstract sounds (i.e.,
music) can establish a mood or atmosphere within seconds, setting the stage for narrative. The fact
that sound can signify and evoke moods means that it can be used to design a narrative structure.