Chapter 4 – Spectromorphology

Spectromorphology.  Typomorphologie. Spektromorfologi.

English Français Norsk Definition
Spectromorphologic categories Typo-morphologie Spektromorfologiske kategorier
Sound spectrum Masse/Spectre Sonore Lydspektrum That aspect of the sound in which the perception of pitch and pitch content is founded
Pitched sound Son tonique Toniske lyd Sounds that have a clearly perceivable pitch or fundamental
Complex or unpitched sound Son complexe Kompleks lyd(stemt) No perceivable fundamental
Variable sound Son varié Glissando Sound-objects with a gradual internal development in their sound spectrum (glissandi or sounds with gliding formants)
Impulse Impulsion Impuls Short thrust of energy
Sustained sound Son Tenue Utholdt lyd Continuous energy
Iteration Itération Tremulert lyd Discontinuous energy
Vacillating sound Échantillon Vingelklang Unpredictably diversified energy articulation
Accumulation Accumulation Mylderklang Unpredictably diversified iterations.
Dystonic sound Son cannelé Dystonisk klang Sounds whose sound spectrum is formed by a mixture of pitched elements and clusters.
Sinusoidal sound Son pur Sinusoid lyd Only fundamental, no overtones
Quasi-pitched dystonic sound Son cannelé quasi tonique Nesten-tonisk dystonisk lyd Perception of fundamental, but no harmonic spectrum; ‘unvoiced’ sonority (compare voiced vs. unvoiced consonants)
Unvoiced complex sound Son complexe aphonique Ustemt kompleks Lyd No perception of fundamental, complex spectrum; ‘unvoiced’ sonority (compare voiced vs. unvoiced consonants)
Composite sound Son composé Sammensatt lyd Pair of sounds, such as a grace note added to (or inserted into) a main note, or a trill or mordent.
Stratified sound Son composite Spalteklang Sustained sounds that show different degrees of internal differentiation. The simplest case is a sustained sound with a prominent harmonic

Table chapter 4

Types of velocity and duration

English Français Norsk Definition
Type of Velocity Type de velocité Hastighetstype
Gesture-time sound Son formé/
Temps du geste
Gjenstandstid Velocities 25–200 bpm (approx.)
Ripple-time sound Temps ondulant Krusningstid Velocities 200–500 bpm (approx.)
Flutter-time sound Temps vibrionnant Flimmertid  Velocities faster than 500 bpm (approx.)
Ambient-time sound Son Homogène/
Temps ambiant
Omgivelsestid  Velocities slower than 25 bpm (approx.)

chp4 illustration duration

English Français Norsk
Pulse typology Typologie de pulsation Puls typologi
Regular pulse Régulier Regelmessig puls
Irregular pulse Irrégulier Uregelmessig puls
Oblique pulse Oblique Skjev puls

chpt 4 pulse

 Schaefferian Special Cases 

English Français Norsk Definition
Special cases Cas particuliers Spesialtilfeller Special cases of sound objects found in Schaeffer’s ‘Traité’
Sound-web Trame Klangvev An object in ambient-time with a constantly changing spectrum. A special case of stratified sounds.
Enlarging sound Grosse note Storklang An object in slow gesture-time with a slowly and predictably evolving spectrum. A special case of stratified sounds with a variable sound spectrum.
Ostinato Pedal Ostinat A repeated sequence of sonic objects, ostinato-like. A special case of composite sound-objects.
Cell Cellule Lydcelle  An accumulation with a total duration in the range of gesture-time
Incident Incident Insident  A special case of composite objects.
Accidents Accident Aksident A special case of stratified objects.
Homogeneous sound Homogène Lyd i omgivelsestid An ambient-time sound-object with stable, non-evolving spectrum and energy.
Fragment Fragment Lydfragment  An extremely short sound.
Chord Accord Akkord  Simultaneous entry of several sounds

chpt4 table2

Spectral Brightness, Spectral Profile 

English Français Norsk Definition
Spectral brightness Spectre harmonique Spektral lyshet

Bright Clair Lys Bright spectrum such as in the vowel [i] and intermediary cases can easily be conceived
Dark Sombre Mørk Darks spectrum such as in the vowel [u]
Spectral profile Profil de masse Spektral profil Evolution of the spectral brightness and thickness of the spectrum over time
Expanding Dilaté Ekspanderende

Bulging Delta Bulende

Receding Aminci Avtakende

Concave En creux Konkav


chpt4 spectral brightness

Spectral brightness

chpt4 spectral brightness2

Spectral profile


Onset and Offset genres

English Français Norsk Definition
Onset Attaque Ansats


Brusque Abrupte Brysk ansats E.g. A sound caused by a metal hammer stroke against metal the attack transient is clearly and separately perceived
Sharp onset Raide Skarp ansats E.g. A sound caused by a mallet or plectrum the onset sound is closer to the character of the main body of the sound, in contrast to the brusque onset
Marked onset Marqué Markert ansats Normal (non-legato) onset of a wind or string instrument
Flat onset Plat Flat ansats No particular marking of the onset as in legato playing, for example
Swelled onset Enflé Svellende ansats A short crescendo/decrescendo
Gradual onset Graduel Gradvis ansats The sound begins with a swell or a crescendo
No onset Nulle Ingen ansats Dal niente

Offset and onset


English Français Norsk Definition
Off set Fin Uttoning

Abrupt ending Fin abrupte Brysk uttoning Sounds with an accentuated ending phase, containing elements alien to the main body of the sound; e.g. A vibrating string dampened with a metal rod
Sharp ending Fin raide Skarp uttoning Sounds with an ending phase containing elements intrinsic to the main body of sound itself; e.g. A harpsichord tone
Marked ending Fin marquée Markert uttoning Sounds stopped suddenly, rather than rounded off
Flat ending Fin plate Flat uttoning Unmarked
Soft ending Fin douce Bløt uttoning The ending of the sustained sound is rounded off with a diminuendo
Resonating ending Fin résonnante Resonnerende uttoning A resonating sound is let free to resonate until it dies out; ‘laissez vibrer’.
Interrupted resonance Fin résonnante interrompue Avbrutt resonans A resonating sound is suddenly stopped

chpt4 offset2

chpt4 offset 3

Sound Gait 

English Français Norsk Definition
Gait/pace Allure Gangart The gait of a sound-object is the undulating movement or characteristic fluctuation that often can be found in the sustained part of sound-objects. The gait of a sound could be defined as a generalised vibrato
Pitch gait Allure hauteur Tonisk gange
Dynamic gait Allure dynamique Dynamisk gange
Spectral gait Allure spectral Spektral gange
Deviation Écart Utslag
Pulse velocity Vitesse des pulsations Pulshastighet

Chpt4 gait 1 Chpt4 gait 2 Chpt4 gait 3


English Français Norsk Definition
Granularity Grain Kornethet Sound-dimension comparable to the abrasiveness one can feel when touching a piece of cloth or a mineral; in other words, as the overall perception of irregularities of detail (‘grains’) that affect the surface of the sound-object
Coarseness Rugosité Grovhet
The sound spectrum of the grain Spectre sonore de grain Kornethetens lydspektrum
The weight of the grain Poids du grain Vektlegging av kornethet
The placement of the grain Placement du grain Plassering av kornethet

chpt4 granularity

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