Altered States of Consciousness as an Adaptive Principle for Composing Electroacoustic Music

Jonathan Weinel, PhD Thesis.  Keele University, March 2012.



The aim of this research was to use altered states of consciousness (ASCs) as an adaptive principle for composing electroacoustic music, in which common features of the ASC experience provide a basis for the design of sonic material and inform the structural design of corresponding musical sections. Various cultures throughout history have sought to undergo visionary journeys using hallucinogenic plants and drugs. In many cases these experiences have been used as a basis for the creation of art, literature and music. Informed by a survey of relevant work, this practice-led research develops a compositional process for creating electroacoustic music that is based upon hallucinogenic perceptual states. Though situated within the electroacoustic idiom, the work also draws significantly upon Western psychedelic culture and electronic dance music. The output is a creative portfolio containing a series of musical compositions, software and video. This supporting commentary describes the compositional processes in detail, and it is hoped that it will be of interest to other creative practitioners dedicated to exploring this theme in music and other mediums.

Written Commentary as PDF

Please see the Audio, Video and Software pages for streaming versions of the compositions discussed in my thesis.

Special thanks to Rajmil Fischman who supervised this project, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for funding it.