Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-m9kch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-24T23:09:00.027Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A Symphony of Sound Images: Spatial composition strategies in Zhang Xiaofu’s Yarlung Zangbo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2023

Wang Xinyu
Zhejiang Conservatory of Music, China. Email:
Hu Ting*
Shanghai International Studies University, China.


Yarlung Zangbo is a multimedia symphony combining orchestra, visual images and electroacoustic music by one of China’s most internationally influential electroacoustic music composers, Zhang Xiaofu. This article focuses on the spatial aspects of Yarlung Zangbo. First, we discuss two different spatial composition preferences in electroacoustic music: image delivery and creation. We then divide the development of electroacoustic orchestral music into three different periods and examine the general spatial intention of the works in these periods. Finally, we analyse and identify four spatial composition strategies of Yarlung Zangbo: equity, virtuosity, diversity and unity. The successful utilisation of these strategies has not only made the piece a milestone in Chinese electroacoustic music, but also a unique and meaningful contribution to the electroacoustic music repertoire worldwide. We believe this article will provide valuable knowledge and insight for future research and practice of spatial composition.

© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Andersen, S. 2014. Piano Concerto for Piano, Orchestra and Video. Simon Steen-Aandersen. (accessed 7 August 2021).Google Scholar
Anderson, D. 2015. The Conductor’s Role in Electro-Acoustic Orchestral Music: Performance Practice Problems in Kaija Saariaho’s Verblendungen. Los Angeles: University of California.Google Scholar
Austin, L. 2000. Sound Diffusion in Composition and Performance: An Interview with Denis Smalley. Computer Music Journal 24(2): 1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barrett, N. 2016. Interactive Spatial Sonification of Multidimensional Data for Composition and Auditory Display. Computer Music Journal 40(2): 4769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Battier, M. 2007. What the GRM Brought to Music: from Musique Concrète to Acousmatic Music. Organised Sound 12(3): 189202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Battier, M. 2020. Nuo Ri Lang by Zhang Xiaofu. In Puckette, M. and Hagan, K. L. (eds.) Between the Tracks: Musicians on Selected Electronic Music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 173–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campo, F. 1982. Report from Venice. Perspectives of New Music Fall–Winter: 372–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carpentier, G., Daubresse, E., Vitoria, M. G., Sakai, K. and Villanueva, F. 2012. Automatic Orchestration in Practice. Computer Music Journal 36(3): 2442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carpentier, T., Barrett, N., Gottfried, R. and Noisternig, M. 2016. Holophonic Sound in IRCAM’s Concert Hall: Technological and Aesthetic Practices. Computer Music Journal 40(4): 1434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chowning, J. 2011. Turenas: The Realization of a Dream. Proceedings of the 17th Journées d’Informatique Musicale, Saint-Etienne 25–27 May.Google Scholar
Clozier, C. 2001. The Gmebaphone Concept and the Cybernéphone Instrument. Computer Music Journal 25(4): 8190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Croft, J. 2007. Theses on Liveness. Organised Sound 12(1): 5966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
d’Alessandro, C. and Noisternig, M. 2019. Of Pipes and Patches: Listening to Augmented Pipe Organs. Organised Sound 24(1): 4153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danieli, L., Witek, M. and Haworth, C. 2021. Space, Sonic Trajectories and the Perception of Cadence in Electroacoustic Music. Journal of New Music Research 50(3): 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gerzso, A. 1984. Reflections on Répons. Contemporary Music Review 1(1): 2334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harley, J. 2012. Orchestral Sources in the Electroacoustic Music of Iannis Xenakis: From Polytope de Montréal to Kraanerg and Hibiki-Hana-Ma. Proceedings of the International Symposium Xenakis, Paris.Google Scholar
Harvey, J. 2008. Speakings for Large Orchestra and Electronics. Fabermusic. (accessed 23 July 2021).Google Scholar
Kendall, G. S. and Cabrera, A. 2011. Why Things Don’t Work: What You Need to Know about Spatial Audio. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Huddersfield.Google Scholar
Lalitte, P. 2006. Towards a Semiotic Model of Mixed Music Analysis. Organised Sound 11(2): 93100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lengelé, C. 2021. The Story and the Insides of a Spatial Performance Tool: Live 4 Life. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Santiago.Google Scholar
Luening, O. 1968. An Unfinished History of Electronic Music. Music Educators Journal 55(3): 43145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mattis, O. 1992. Varèse’s Multimedia Conception of ‘Déserts’. Musical Quarterly 76(4): 557–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murail, T. 1983. Désintégrations Note. Tristan Murail. (accessed 23 July 2021).Google Scholar
Murail, T. 2008. Liber Fulguralis Note. Tristan Murail. (accessed 23 July 2021).Google Scholar
Peters, N., Marentakis, G. and McAdams, S. 2011. Current Technologies and Compositional Practices for Spatialization: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis. Computer Music Journal 35(1): 1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roads, C. 2015. Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saariaho, K. 2012. Circle Map. Kaija Saariaho. (accessed 3 August 2021).Google Scholar
Schneller, O. 2013. Wu Xing/Water for Large Orchestra. Oliver Schneller. (accessed 13 June 2021).Google Scholar
Smith, R. B. 2000. An Interview with Tristan Murail. Computer Music Journal 24(1): 1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Swift, R. 1971. Laminations I, for Orchestra and Electronic Sounds. Notes 28(1): 113–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tarzan, A., Alunno, M. and Bientinesi, P. 2019. Assessment of Sound Spatialisation Algorithms for Sonic Rendering with Headphones. Journal of New Music Research 48(2): 107–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wierzbicki, J. 2008. Shrieks, Flutters, and Vocal Curtains: Electronic Sound/Electronic Music in Hitchcock’s the Birds. Music and the Moving Image 1(2): 1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, S. and Harrison, J. 2010. Rethinking the BEAST: Recent Developments in Multichannel Composition at Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre. Organised Sound 15(3): 239–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zhang, X. 2018. The Power of Arterial Language in Constructing a Musical Vocabulary of One’s Own: Inheriting the Inspiration and Gene of Innovation in Electroacoustic Music from Chinese Culture. Contemporary Music Review 37(1–2): 126–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Xinyu and Ting supplementary material

Xinyu and Ting supplementary material

Download Xinyu and Ting supplementary material(File)
File 414.3 MB