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Hyperrealism in electroacoustic music

I submitted my honours thesis for my music degree on 4 June, 2021. It involved an exploration of hyperrealism as it can be applied to electroacoustic music. What the heck is that? Well if you know hyperrealism is visual arts - really accurate depictions of real stuff but on a larger-than-life scale, it's the same with sound art. You take a recording of a real thing and by applying effects, you play with its perceived dimensions. Also, its when you cannot tell if what you're hearing is a real recording or a fake one. The kind of music we're generally talking about here is musique concrete, acousmatic and soundscape composition.

Here's a framework for thinking about it.

Here's a definition.

Hyperreal music is a mimetic form of sonic simulation with high-fidelity realism, and is concerned with manipulating the perception of temporality and space. (Burge, 2021)

Abstract of research paper

This research paper aims to clarify the use of the term hyperreal in its application to electroacoustic works that deal with representations of the real. An understanding of the key differences of hyperrealism (arts) and hyperreality (state of being) enabled a discussion on its use in the visual arts where the term is colloquially more familiar, and critical theory, where Jean Baudrillard uses the term to aestheticise his critique of postmodern culture. A review of the literature established contradictions in its application to pre-existing works. Building on the work of Ambrose Field’s codification of hyperreal landscapes in which he applied Baudrillard’s simulation theory, the research identifies other means by which a composer can create simulative works. A key finding is use of DSP techniques to upscale real-world objects is comparable to the upscaling of the subject matter in hyperreal visual art. In this way the distinctions between hyperrealism and hyperreality can coexist between high-fidelity realism (concrete simulation) and low-fidelity realism (abstracted simulation), borrowing from Truax’s soundscape composition theory. The research establishes a possible theoretical framework for evaluating hyperrealistic qualities in electroacoustic music representing the real and a new definition that seeks to incorporate contemporary understanding.

A link will be provided to the paper once published.


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