Dissertation Index

Author: Sofer, Danielle, S

Title: Making Sex Sound: Erotic Currents in Electronic Music

Institution: University of Music and Performing Arts Graz

Begun: October 2013

Completed: June 2016


This dissertation examines electronic and electroacoustic music written after 1950 with a focus on works composers attribute with erotic connotations. It explores the ways in which music presents eroticism, how composers envision a musically erotic subject as well as what listeners find aurally stimulating or provocative about music.

Compositions by Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari, Robert Normandeau, Annea Lockwood, Alice Shields, Barry Truax, Pauline Oliveros, Juliana Hodkinson, and Niels Rønsholdt, exhibit common musical idioms, such as the drive to climax, use of the female voice, and visual or textual imagery. But beyond these commonalities, the dissertation’s framing theoretical, critical, and philosophical analyses prove each work exhibits erotic qualities particular to its social, historical, and music-compositional climate. Early works aspire toward a Husserlian essence of the erotic, paralleling the scientific objectivity of the 1950s; in the 1980s and ’90s, many erotic works deemphasize male sexual pleasure to mirror second-wave feminist critiques of pornography; and, on the heels of this corrective, composers at the turn of the twenty-first century use digital processing to reorient gender and sexual markers. Reacting to electronic music’s historical disregard for gender and sexual difference, this dissertation exposes the philosophical, psychological, socio-cultural, and historical relevance of eroticism in electronic and electroacoustic works.

Keywords: musicology, Music theory, electronic music, music and sexuality, gender, voice, music aesthetics, erotic art, cultural musicology



*Preface xii
What Is Eroticism, Anyway? xv
Making Sex Sound xvii

*Introduction 1
Erotic Representation 5
The Prevalence of the Erotic Soundscape 8
Dissertation Outline 21

*Chapter 1: The Object of Desire in Electroacoustic Music 31
Perceptual Experience From Psyche to Psycho 35
Reduced Sense, Beyond Sense 38
Pierre Schaeffer’s “Erotica” Movement 42
Erotics Anonymous: The Case of Luc Ferrari 47
Whose Voice Is It, Anyway? 55
Suspicion of the “Cinema for the Ear” 63
Conclusions on the Object of Desire 86
Conclusion 92

*Chapter 2: The “Ongoing Interculturality” of Alice Shields’s Apocalypse 95
Alice Shields 101
Sexual Prohibition, the First Sign of the Apocalypse 111
Apocalypse, More Than Cultural Borrowing 115
“Cock Rock” Meets “Oriental” Transmigration: A Comparison 127
Intertextual Ruins 137
Conclusion 144

*Chapter 3: Identity and Orientation in Barry Truax’s Song of Songs 148
Barry Truax 157
Song of Songs 159
Textual Considerations 160
Analysis 162
Blurring Lines, Redefining Categories 177
Transforming Analysis 179

Chapter 4: Beyond the Posthuman: Augmenting Performance 183
The Making of Fish & Fowl (2011) 193
Perceptual Multitudes 195
Analysis 196
Theories of Repetition 200
Embodying Sound 202
On Banality 209
A Transhuman Existence 220
Conclusion 224

*Conclusion 228

*Appendices 231
Appendix A: List of Electronic Compositions with Erotic Elements
Appendix B: Alice Shields, Apocalypse, Track List

*Bibliography 234



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