Social and Perceptual Dynamics in Ecologically-Based Composition

Damián Keller

Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
Stanford University


The ecological approach has provided fruitful applications in sound synthesis and composition. Nevertheless, the implications of this approach in the understanding of music theory have not been sufficiently explored. This paper explores the theoretical aspects behind the development of ecologically-based compositional work. Following closely Shepherd's (1992) essay, I discuss whether ecologically-based music can be studied with linguistic tools. The concepts of potentiality and actuality are situated within the perspective of individual-environment interactions. A process that describes the relationship between an individual and his specific social context is proposed: the personal environment. Consistency is discussed in the context of environmental sound listening processes and ecological modeling work. The paper concludes by suggesting that form-creation is dynamically determined by a process of mutual adaptation between the listener and the environment.