Composer dans le continuum : fréquence, temps, timbre, espace


Composer dans le continuum : fréquence, temps, timbre, espace
Colloque International : De Xenakis à nos jours : Le Continuum et son développement en musique et en architecture


In this text, I explore the sonic inter-relations between space, time and timbre. The physical structure and the psycho-acoustical perception of these 3 dimensions of sound are inter-connected, and ,thus, are on a common psycho-physical continuum. When we hear transformations of timbre over time we also hear changes in the spatial dimension of the music. Different timbres resonate and reverberate in the musical space over time according to how they are transformed spectrally. Transforming a sound towards timbral simplicity (removing almost all spectral content) reduces its spatial localisation towards "point sound", whereas enriching the spectral content by increasing its noise content over time will create a more complex and indistinct spatiality as far as the localisation of the sound is concerned.
A rich and complex sound changes sonic "shape" (i.e. its resonance and reverberation in the container space) over time as the spectral content "slides" over the total timbral continuum from the simple sinewave to the complex wave. If we consider all dimensions of the sound at once, we may think of them as combining to make a spectral "harmony" of time, timbre and space. Composing with sound as such a spectral harmony means transforming at once the many dimensions of the sound over time. One can not treat the multi-dimensions of sound as completely independent "parameters" (as total serialism tried), but rather we should think of sound as a multi-dimensional, topologically varying sonic object that is in constant evolution. These sonic variations give our perception a rich and satisfying psycho-acoustical experience, especially when the composer transforms all of these dimensions at once, making for rich spectral-harmonic modulations in the space-time-timbre continuum.


Un fichier numérique uniquement




Université de Rouen
European University of Cyprus
University of Cyprus
École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Normandie (Darnétal, Seine-Maritime)
Centre Iannis Xenakis


Fichier vidéo numérique, .mp4



moving image


29 minutes 12 seconds


Citer ce document

Pape, Gerard. Conférencier et École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Normandie (Darnétal, Seine-Maritime), “Composer dans le continuum : fréquence, temps, timbre, espace,” Centre Iannis Xenakis., consulté le 27 mai 2024,