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An Explanation of the terms 'Composer' and 'Sonic Artist'

The term sonic artist highlights a preoccupation with sound in musical composition and in a wider sense, it also highlights a range of hybrid art forms that arrive through intersection with associated disciplines such as music production, film, gaming, fine arts, dance, architecture, and computer science. The term composer in its historical context tends to highlight preoccupations relating to instruments, pitch, rhythm, dynamics, structure, etc. However, it is important to note that modern instrumental and vocal composers might also be considered to be sonic artists, as it would be rare to find a 21st century composer who does not employ the communicative and expressive potential of sound-based music in their work. Sonic artists historically work directly in sound to compose, and composers through pitch/duration notation. However, this is not always the case - the opposite is also true in some circumstances. Leigh Landy provides a useful point of difference in defining sonic art as ‘music [that] uses the sound as its unit value, not the note – although the note may of course be seen to be the sound’ (Landy 2000). Both terms sonic artist and composer might therefore be described as mutually inclusive - as each highlights its own set of concepts and ideologies, but does not necessarily exclude concepts and ideologies relating to the other.