The Emotional Sonata Form as a Case for Musical Surautomatism

Ox-ent-dach: Emotional Sonata Form Performance for Modular synthesiser
and Amplified Piano Forte

Since the advent of Breton’s first surreal manifesto, surreal
techniques have been proposed as methodologies to drive creativity by
taking control out of the artist’s actions into an “automatic” realm.
We borrow ideas from Luca and Trost’s (1945) Dialectique de la
Dialectique: “the way to surrealist painting blossoming lies in the
use of aplastic, objective and entirely non-artistic procedures”. We
extend this idea to music composition by proposing a computer-asisted
method that uses non-artistic and non-musical (“aplastic”) procedures
to promote a self-reflective compositional approach.

This compositional workflow is proposed to guide composers’ selection
of music themes and features contingent upon their prior emotional
responses to these themes – a form of surautomatism. This workflow
applies Plutchik’s emotions classification framework. Here the
statistical formalism of Fisher Discriminants is utilised as a
non-artistic method to (i) guide the classification of themes as per
the composers perceived emotions and (ii) to discover prevalent
musical descriptors. This method ultimately could be regarded as a
form of guided surautomatism with the aim of generating a final
compositional work by populating sections of a predefined musical form
– in our case an electro acoustic adaptation of the sonata form termed
emotional sonata form.

Emotional sonata form is an idea that evolved naturally during the
development of our emotional annotation process and is a four-fold
musical structure: introduction; exposition; development and;
recapitulation. The sonata-form is then populated with themes based on
musical features that were ranked as emotion-prevalent for a selected
Plutchik’s axis.

By means of this framework we would like to present a
composition/performance for modular analog synthetizer and amplified
piano. The piece is entitled Ox-ent-dach, a phantasy on the anxiety
associated with landing a Boeing 747. The piece lasts for 17 minutes
and it is based on Plutchik’s axis: surprise/anticipation. It is, as
expected, structured as per the emotional sonata form paradigm
described above.
Jesus A Lopez-Donado BIO
Artist bio,

Jesus Lopez-DoNaDo is a Hispanic-Australian composer. He is currently
a doctorate candidate on music composition at the QLD Conservatorium
under the guidance of Prof A Brown and Dr G Dirie. He works at the
crossover of emotional psychology, music composition and computational
intelligence. In his doctoral thesis he is exploring ways to generate
a surautomatic compositional framework guided by individuals’
emotional responses. He has been an avid and productive composer since
1992. His works include scores for theatre, contemporary dance, film,
acousmatic and acoustic ensembles. He has attended educational
sessions and learnt from the likes of Adina Izarra, Alberto Grau,
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Maria Guinan, Curtis Roads and Rosa Briceno. He
has attended residencies at Queen’s University’s Sonic Arts Research
Centre (Belfast), Conservatorio Jose Angel Lamas and Simon Bolivar
University (Caracas, Venezuela), Taller Flamenco (Seville, Spain),
Teatro del Circulo (Rosario, Argentina), Queensland University of
Technology and Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia). He is
married with two daughters, and enjoys cooking, camping and studying
the bible daily.


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