The Sound Of The Third Wave: Science Fiction, Imaginary Machines and The Future Of Techno

by Miller, Graham, MA

Abstract (Summary)
Of all the musical genres of the present, from popular to academic, from mainstream to underground, it is Techno music, and all its subgenic offspring, that most conspicuously identifies itself with the ‘Futuristic.’ This thesis attempts to unveil this music’s construction as ‘Futuristic’ through a comparative analysis of Techno composition and cinematic science fiction sound design. The process of forging sounds for a fictitious Future – the role of the science fiction film sound designer – is an apt analogical tool for deciphering meaning in this virtual machine music of the Third Wave, known as Techno. Many of the techniques and tools used in both science fiction sound design and the creation of contemporary Techno music are remarkably similar. Science fiction sound design seeks to make sounds for machines that do not exist – imaginary machines that soar unencumbered by reality across the silver screen. Modern digital Techno music such as ‘glitch’ and ‘microsound’ draws its sounds from machines that do not exist, at least not in the spatial sense – software simulacra that illuminate a computer screen. It is a link that few have made, and it may help explain why many present-day Techno subgenres sound the way they do, what they mean, and why, to certain ears, those sounds carry the signification of ‘Futuristic.’
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Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Rob Bowman

School:York University

School Location:Canada - Ontario

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:science fiction, techno, sound design, futurism, film sound, musique concrète, Alvin Toffler, RoboCop, The Third Wave, synthesizers, microsound, Curtis Roads, film scores, sound effects, Michel Chion, Ben Burtt, Luigi Russolo, glitch techno, Walter Murch


Date of Publication:09/01/2005

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