Friday, 15 April 2011


Denis Smalley is a New Zealand born composer of electro-acoustic music. From 1976 to 1994 he lectured at my alma mater the University Of East Anglia (although he wisely left as I arrived) and he is now Professor of Music at University College London. Smalley describes his compositional approach as ‘spectromorphological’, a term which he coined and has defined in great detail but, for the sake of brevity, is ‘the perceived sonic footprint of a sound spectrum as it manifests in time’. Now you know as much as I do.

‘Pulses in Time’ was released on the UEA’s own record label in 1981, and collects music Smalley composed between 1974 and 1979. It’s a fairly easy record to listen to, although very abstract, and the way that the compositions expand and become more complex as they progress is extremely interesting and very, um, spectomorphological indeed.   

Here’s short extracts from, respectively, ‘The Pulses of Time’ and ‘Chanson De Geste’. They are both long tracks, and the clips probably don’t do them justice, but I hope they at least give a feel of what Smalley is about.


  1. Not sure if it just my computer but the soundcloud widget thing is covering text and won't play :(

  2. Sorry, Vic, but it seems to work for me and at least one other person. Can you download it?

  3. Eeek... one of my most sought after records...

    First heard this off a C60 in the early 90s - a decent fella from Newcastle had a tape-of-a-tape...

    top post


  4. Ah, got it now thanks. The layout goes odd when I go to the comments page. Probably my internet software or something technical I don't understand.
    Many thanks.

  5. Very interesting.