The Early Stage of Perception of Contemporary Art Music: A matter of time

Vincenzo Santarcangelo, Riccardo Wanke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


By way of a multidisciplinary approach, this article advances the idea that our listening to certain practices of contemporary art music (electroacoustic, classical contemporary, and electronic music) relies on precise connections to the early stage of perception. These styles of music are characterised by essential sound configurations that evolve in time, thus eliciting a sensorial impact which transcends features regarding sound sources and affective responses. Listeners grasp what Scruton calls 'pure events' in a 'world of sound', being able to distinguish, separate and sort acoustic stimuli. The article establishes a key parallel among seminal works of Bregman, McAdams, Kubovy, Bayle and other authors, highlighting a fundamental agreement of perceptual studies in psychology, neurophysiology and musicology for the understanding of the early stage of sound perception. Music practices typical of this perspective develop certain sound configurations, such as figure/ground arrangements, recurrent elements and morphological distinction, that closely mirror our innate mechanisms of prediction in perception. A parallel is made between studies in the philosophy of perception and the neurophysiology which allows us to postulate the idea that these styles of music are essentially based on pure temporal proto-objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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