04 April 2009


Research Context: This project can be contextualised in two different musical territories:
A) Electro-acoustic Composition and Sound Spatialisation
B) Reconstructed ‘Scores’ in Live Interactive Systems
A) Electro-acoustic Composition and Sound Spatialisation: Historically, the use of space in music was a preoccupation for composers such as Gabrieli, Berlioz, Mahler or Henry Brant (Antiphony I, for Symphony Orchestra, 1953). In the context of electro-acoustic music, Spatial Sound has been explored creatively since the 1950’s by pioneer composers and engineers; Pierre Schaeffer/J. Poullin (le potentiometre d'espace tool) or Karlzhein Stockhausen (Gruppen for three Orchestras, 1955-57). As a continuation with this tradition, large surround sound diffusion systems were developed; e.g. EXPO’70, Osaka, Japan (German Pavilion, 1970), Acousmonium (France, 1974), BEAST (Birmingham, 1983), SARC (Belfast, 2002), Klangdom (Karlsruhe, 2003), or MANTIS (University of Manchester, 2004). These systems provide a unique opportunity for listeners to experience music in acute three-dimensional form and for composers and sound diffusers to have control over spatial polyphony and movement as never before. However, has this tradition reached a limitation? It is often the case that non-specialised audiences cannot appreciate the construction of music via spatial articulation in electro-acoustic concerts, due to the complexity of the musical language, its fixed structure and the performance ritual; in most cases absent from the visual element and using an interface, which resembles a recording studio mixer. Some Schools and music organisations, which became aware of the problem, have already explored the incorporation of additional components and aesthetics to this type of performance practice, aiming to make the system ‘more friendly’ (mostly in the form of subtle visual aid). For example, by adding careful illumination to the speakers (Gmebaphone instrument/arium at IMEB-Bourges); associating light to dynamic response on each speaker (Zirkonium project, ZKM 07); making sound-diffusion more ‘ritualistic and dramatic’ as in the Brussels’ School or developing interfaces for Sound Spatialisation which are more ‘gestural’, (e.g. the Colby Leider’s elBo1 and 2 or Kartadinatas’s devices for BEAST and MANTIS).

B) Reconstructed ‘Scores’ in Live Interactive Systems: Sound materials associated to a work composed for The Mantis Nautilus System are pre-composed in small musical audio-files but still to be ‘arranged’ in mosaic form during performance. Processes of chance and determinacy and the use of metadata in sound-files are incorporated to facilitate this task.
This research on reconstructed ‘scores’ is informed by early pioneer work in composition in the 1920s during the Silent Era of Film Music. It primarily focuses on the concern for phrasing and articulation of musical ideas, including the exploration and definition of small sonic-cells and their reconstruction to create new alternatives for structuring sound and to classify notated sound and sonic data. The classification of sound materials is primarily based upon Schaeffer’s Typomorphology, Smalley’s Spectromorphology and extended work undertaken by Thoresen , via the use of metadata on a computerised retrieval system informed by previous research in the field . The system will enhance creative expression and will respond to performers’ decisions, while the audio materials and visuals are ‘’delivered’. Such techniques and methodologies are designed to be transferable to other projects.