Dissertation Index

Author: Reid, Leah C

Title: Composing Timbre Spaces, Composing Timbre in Space: An Exploration of the Possibilities of Multidimensional Timbre Representations and their Compositional Applications

Institution: Stanford University

Begun: September 2008

Completed: June 2013


This final project is comprised of three works completed over the past two years, and an introductory paper that briefly outlines the approaches to timbre taken in each piece. All three of the compositions approach timbre from a different perspective and explore the possibilities and compositional applications of multidimensional timbre representations. The final project does not present a comprehensive history of timbre, all the research that has been undertaken on the topic, or a complete account of the composers who have used timbre models. Rather, the models and compositions presented here are meant to provide insight into my own compositional thought process. The three original pieces illustrate a trajectory through which composing with timbre yielded new creative insights and compositional techniques. Emergent in these works is a common theme and exploration of “timbre space” and “timbre in space.”
The first piece presented in this portfolio is Ostiatim, for string quartet. It explores timbre space as a morphing device for sculpting material. Ostiatim was premiered by the Jack Quartet.
The second piece, Clocca, for chamber ensemble, examines timbre space as a structuring device. Clocca was premiered by the Talea Ensemble.
Finally, the third piece in the collection, Occupied Spaces, for two piano and percussion, explores a series of timbral spaces, presented as “rooms,” which grow, shrink, and continuously shift in shape. Unlike Ostiatim and Clocca, this final piece explores timbre in space. Occupied Spaces was premiered by the ensemble Yarn/Wire.

Keywords: timbral composition, timbre models and their compositional applications, timbre spaces, compositional timbre models, timbre as a structuring device, timbre as a morphing device, timbre in space, temporality of timbre



List of Figures
List of Supplemental Materials

I. Introduction
1.1 What is Timbre?
1.1.1 Timbral Parameters
1.1.2 What is a Timbre Space?

1.2 Select Timbre Models and Their Compositional Applications
1.2.1 Pollard & Janson (1982)
1.2.2 Grey (1977) and McAdams et al. (1995)

1.3 The Temporality of Timbre

1.4 Timbre Models in Select Compositions
1.4.1 Krystof Penderecki: Classification and Timbral Categories
1.4.2 Mathias Spahlinger’s Timbre Space
1.4.3 Kaija Saariaho’s “Timbral Axis”

1.5 Timbre Models in My Music

II. Ostiatim
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Form
2.3 Timbre as a Morphing Device

III. Clocca
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Form: Timbre as a Structuring Device
3.3 Treatment of Time

IV. Occupied Spaces
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Form
4.3 Eleven Rooms: Timbre in Space

V. Summary and Conclusions

VI. Scores
6.1 Score for Ostiatim
6.2 Score for Clocca
6.3 Score for Occupied Spaces



255 S. Rengstorff Ave.
Apt. 106
Mountain View, CA

email: leahcreid@gmail.com
t: 603.289.0840

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