Sonoristics, sonorism (Pol. sonorystyka)
Terms coined by Polish musicology to describe the impulse toward sonic explorations in twentieth-century music. ‘Sonorystyka’ (from the French sonore) is primarily associated with the work of its inventor Józef Michał Chomiński, who thought of it as a ‘new branch of knowledge with the sound technique of [twentieth-century music] as its subject’ (Chomiński, 1961). ‘Sonorism’, a derivation from ‘sonoristics’, refers to the avant-garde style in Polish music of the 1960s that placed timbre at the centre of compositional interests.
The term was originally intended as a descriptive category for the novel sound qualities of twentieth-century music that transcended those generally associated with colouristics and gained structural functions in a composition, including non-functional chords used for timbral effects, the sonic layer of text in vocal music and unconventional sounds generated by traditional instruments. This development reached its peak in the avant-garde music of the 1950s and 1960s, which suggested the existence of completely new structural laws governing the musical work. It was at this time that Chomiński extended the use of the word ‘sonoristics’ to encompass a modern compositional technique ‘analogous to harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration’ (Chomiński and Wilkowska-Chomińska, ...