Working With Sound in the DAW: Towards a New Materiality of the Audio-Object

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on the nature of the audio-object and the manner of its employment, within the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), providing specific reference to electronic music production practice. It considers the way in which the relationships between sound and object may impact upon electronic music producers’ thinking about, and working with, audio as a material for creative use. The chapter suggests that new ways of working with digital sound, using a refined series of interactions between the creative user, visualised objects, and the intrinsic creative potentiality of those onscreen “audio-objects”.

Two predominant object-based theories are examined; 1) Pierre Schaeffer’s acousmatic music, and 2) the acoustical properties of sound imagined as object, approaches. These are tested to see whether and to what extent, if at all, they resonate with a range of experiences and practices of contemporary electronic music produces, working in the field at the time, who are interviewed by the author.

The various ideals and themes of the two approaches can be found, it is argued, in the way in which various DAWs are designed and presented as user interfaces. Whilst, both approaches, Schaeffer’s and the acoustic properties of sound, have been explored in depth, this chapters suggests a modest conjectural way to move beyond the standard paradigm by considering the audio-object as a whole, not a compartmentalised or excessively idealised phenomena, within the context of electronic music production.

As a result of the above investigations, a new theoretical model for working with the audio-object within a speculative DAW, one that combines a free-flow creativity with touchscreen devices, is proposed.

This work allows music producers and software developers to consider new and innovative approaches to electronic music production, taking into account important theoretical methods and working practices, but without being unnecessarily tethered by them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProducing Music
EditorsRuss Hepworth-Sawyer, Jay Hodgson, Mark Marrington
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315212241
ISBN (Print)9780415789219
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2019


  • Sound
  • DAW
  • Audio object
  • Music
  • Arts


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