Technology and composition — an autoethnography on the influence of electronics on orchestration practice

Ramos, J. (2024) Technology and composition — an autoethnography on the influence of electronics on orchestration practice. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.


This research explores novel methods of orchestration, focusing on the influence of electronics on my own orchestration practice. By drawing upon electronic music composition techniques and timbral-shaping tools, this project addresses the boundaries of orchestration and examines processes that inform orchestration decisions. Through the resulting portfolio, I explore timbral blend, spatialization and acoustics, real-time orchestration, computer-aided/assisted orchestration, and the extension of the timbral palette by rethinking the ideals of spectral composition. These methods aim to create unique sound worlds and audience experiences while situating my distinctive approach in relation to other existing practices. Furthermore, a supporting commentary illuminates the deep pre-compositional research that informs my orchestration practice by identifying the techniques and evaluating their application. To explore such concepts, it is vital to conduct practice-led autoethnographic research. This allows for full, creative exploration and application of site-specific and acoustic/electronic tools. Through recognizing the impact of electronics on my approach to orchestration, I have made exciting discoveries in this field by integrating electronic and non-electronic systems, forming what I regard as my orchestration discourse. The radical overhaul of my orchestration approach has served to highlight just how much more work there is to be made in the realm of human-machine creative collaboration and that sound has many more lessons to teach me. This research marks a ‘checkpoint’ of life-long research as contemporary arts and science work hand in hand. We cannot disregard the fact that the gap between the world of instrumental music and electronic music is still too unexplored in the timbral-based orchestration domain.

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