Thesis (PhD), De Montfort University.
The basis of this research project stems from reflections upon the process of composition for electroacoustic audio-visual music. These are fixed media works in which sound and image materials are accessed, generated, explored and configured in creation of a musically informed audio-visual expression. Within the process of composition, the composer must decide how to effectively draw relationships between these time based media and their various abstract and mimetic materials. This process usually has no codified laws or structures and results in relationships that are singular to the individual artworks. The composer uses their own experience and intuition in assessing how best to associate sounds and images and they will use their own interpretation of the materials to evaluate the how successful they are in realising their intentions. But what is there to say that the interpretation made by the composer bears any resemblance to interpretations made by audiences? The current research sought to assess any trends or commonalities in how people interpret such works. Utilising a combination of empirical research, composition and scholarly study, the project investigated various theoretical approaches to interpretation and the occurrence of correlation between compositional intention and audience interpretation. Models from different theoretical disciplines were combined in order to build up a picture of the processes involved in making interpretations, and to aid in the rationalisation of empirical data. The application of three methodological approaches allowed for the topic to be considered from a diversity of perspectives, and for triangulation to take place in confirmation of the research outcomes. The way in which individuals build up interpretations from non-codified abstract and mimetic materials also provided a suitable case study for the critique and assessment of various theoretical approaches to interpretation. The project challenges structuralist approaches to interpretation, drawing together theoretical materials and empirical research findings in support of a post-structrualist model of interpretation that demonstrates the absolutely vital role played by context – the framing of the artwork in the consciousness of the individual audience member.