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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The sonic object: Music in/as material with “The Exchange” (original music composition)
by Mazzariello, Andrea, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011, 112; 3481706
Abstract (Summary)

Do vinyl records inspire or necessitate different listening postures than mp3s? How might we modulate our listening practice to account for the virtues and drawbacks of particular media? How do the ways we approach different media relate to the ways we think about music as an abstraction or concept, the ways we theorize about music itself?

This dissertation proposes radical differences in the ways we approach different formats, focusing especially on the unique allegiances and proclivities of the vinyl record collector. Part I examines vinyl and digital media culture through the lenses of the embodied cognition and ecological listening models. Part II interrogates the language used to describe these listening strategies, revealing a surprising, striking connection: the language used to account for the substantive differences between digital and physical media shadows the language used to account for the ways music behaves on the page, the ways the mechanics of music operate.

Each of six chapters begins with a narrative vignette that focuses on a particular record; taken together, these narrative sections create a kind of listening autobiography that stitches together and intensifies the argument over the course of the essay. This strategy allows for novel points of comparison, among them the Galant style with dubstep, Autechre with Tchaikovsky.

The original composition, “The Exchange,” that completes this dissertation represents an attempt to untangle my artistic personality, negotiating the territory where two crafts—writer and composer—overlap. I recorded my own voice speaking segments of prose, used various techniques to create discrete fragments out of this recording, and generated MIDI data from each one. I sampled these fragments and their corresponding synthesizer accompaniments and mapped the samples onto percussion and keyboard triggers. By performing idiosyncratic patterns on the instruments the text emerges from shards of recombined speech.

This piece underscores the concerns that motivate my work: a queasiness about rigid boundaries between genres and artistic roles; a fascination with the human body's capability to mold itself around a unique task; a conviction that following our creative imperatives, while they may drag us far afield, allows for their integration into something singular.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Trueman, Daniel
Commitee: Lansky, Paul, Mackey, Steven, Tymoczko, Dmitri, White, Barbara
School: Princeton University
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Multimedia Communications, Aesthetics
Keywords: Digital music, Media formats, Original composition, Vinyl records
Publication Number: 3481706
ISBN: 978-1-267-01125-1
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