In a previous article I talked about businesses bringing in new audiences by creating impressionable soundscapes in their offices, but what is going on when it comes to museums? Soundscapes and sound installations are being used more and more to present important and relevant topics/exhibitions in museums.
Giles Martin- the son of Sir George Martin, Beatles’ notorious producer, created an experience with a new Dolby Atmos mix that brought back into the world that was created in Abbey Road studios. This event showed visitors a new angle of Beatles’ greatest hits. The succeed of this event definitely lead to an increase of popularity in immersive sound experiences, with which we can explore both art and history in a fascinating new way. These experiences can offer a unique and interesting way to learn about the past.
The Grammy Museum in LA opened up a new exhibition called “Mono to Immersive Experience Room” in which visitors can relive the most famous performances of the Grammys. This audio-visual experience takes visitors on a journey from the 19th century phonographs to the immersive sound of Today. One can explore the most important parts of music history and experience how technology progressed with time.
One of the most innovative experiences was done by the London Design Museum that went on from April to July 2020. It was designed to “transport” visitors into the Nightclubs of cities with a famous rave culture (e.g. Berlin, Detroit, Paris). It used a combination of music, strobe and flashing lights in order to create a club atmosphere.The experience called “Electronic” was using all these techniques to allow visitors to explore the art, design and photography that captured and shared the electronic music atmosphere.
The exhibit features works from some of the most famous techno artists like Jeff Mills and Ellen Alien, along with BBC’s radiophonic workshop. It also features photography from a famous german event photographer Andreas Gursky, as well as the work of French DJ Laurent Garnier. The following video gives a bit more detail from interviews and insight on the projects mentioned here.
The semester is coming to an end and by now, all Projects should be brought to an end and result should already be visible. For my project experiment part 1, I have finished collecting data from 30 test subjects. As mentioned in a previous post, there was a training process that had to be done for my specific experiment. The subjects all watched a training video for 20 days. Before the first video and the last one, they were asked to do a synesthesia test on Synesthesia.com . Afterwards, I sent one of my 4 tracks to each of the participants. I made sure to have approximately the same amount of answers for each track. So far I have not interpreted all data, but based on the synesthesia test, I am getting mixed results, from a very slight improvement, to a significant improvement. After analysing the answers to the questionnaires, I will see how much that change in answers impacts the real world answers. I presume that the real world presentation will have slightly better results than the test itself. In this article I want to explain what I did with the video and how I presented the songs. Each song was called “Track” with number extensions from 1 to 4. The numbers were mixed that they do not correspond to the order of the songs. Here is my training video to show you how it looked like. The subjects were instructed to watch it once a day for the duration of the test in hopes that it will train their brain for better synesthetic perception.
Have you ever thought about the sounds inside office spaces in different buildings? Hows does a concrete space feel in comparison to a glass and wood one? What if the sounds you heard were actually not generated by the space itself?
I’m on the 20th floor of an office building on Wall Street. One of the offices inside is equipped with about a dozen speakers, some sitting on plinths, others mounted on the ceiling. Aric Marshall, of audio software company Spatial, is leading a demonstration of a new soundscape designed for the workplace. Holding his phone, he says “Just listen,” and touches the screen. I ready myself to hear the soundscape come out through the speakers, but just the opposite happens. The sound I hadn’t processed turns off, plunging the room in a cold, uncomfortable, almost metallic silence. Without me realizing it, a soundscape had been playing all along—in this case, a muted, almost imperceptible pitter-patter of rain falling on the roof of a wooden cabin—coating the concrete office with a sort of soft, sonic balm.
Nowadays, our senses are bombarded from every side. Companies are competing for our attention any way they can, and now lots of them have started using sound as a marketing strategy. Companies like Ambercrombie and Fitch and Mastercard started using their own signature soundscapes in stores in order to stick in consumers’ minds.
The article author goes on: “This week, I experienced what an office could sound like if someone intentionally designed it that way. Here, that someone is in fact two companies: sonic-branding studio Made Music Studio and Spatial, an immersive audio-software platform. As companies continue with their quest to lure tenants back into the office, both are betting that bespoke soundscapes can provide a resounding advantage.”
Made Music studio has been experimenting with implementing different soundscapes in companies that invoke an emotional response and increase the immersion for customers. Imagine how it would be to walk into a hotel where you have “welcoming ambience,” “focusing ambience” and “energising ambience`.
The semester is nearing its end and after a long journey with our personal projects, we have to conclude our research and present the results. The time really flew by and I feel a bit sad that we are finishing this portion of our studies. In this article, I wanted to give some updates on the current state of my research and product progress.
My project is exploring the possibility of training non-synaesthetic people to experience synaesthesia (weaker form). I wanted to do it with an ep titled CMYK, where each song has a dominant colour based on my own synaesthetic perception.
Product Pt. 1 – Songs
I am in the process of polishing out the final details of all the 4 songs in my project collection. 2 of the songs on the EP have a similar mood/style, while the other 2 are slightly different in genres, with one being significantly darker than the rest.
Product Pt. 2 – Training videos
As part of the research and testing, I came up with a short training video that I will use in order to have a benchmark between different test groups and evaluate the validity of my hypothesis. I kept the video as short as possible because I knew I couldn’t expect unpaid subjects to focus on something for more than 3-4 minutes. Here is the video itself:
My project requires working with 2 different test groups with the goal of comparing results and determining whether there is a positive difference present with long-term training. The first portion of the test has started- the training video is being watched daily for 20 days by 15 participants so far. The goal is to get 15 more. The second test group will be a short-term group that will be exposed to the video only once.
The Serious Game Jam was the first event of its kind that I attended. It opened a whole new world for me, making me more excited about all the possibilities of this competition format. I wanted to talk about my experience during the event and put in some final thoughs. At the beginning the energy was both good and bad- we were excited but also stressed/worried about being on time with the deadline. 3 people gave up from Friday night to Saturday morning, so it was only the 3 of us working and we knew we had to seriously step it up in order to be able to finish. Impressively enough, all 3 of us were crazy productive and even managed to sleep enough! We were impressed with each other’s skills and the outcome of this GameJam is that we will most probably be working together on future projects. In the end, we managed to score the best sound design award. I went in with no expectations and came out of the event positively surprised. If it hadn’t been for the Game Jam, I wouldn’t have discovered a conference called Game Development Session. This event enabled “blind speed dating” with companies and it resulted in one very interested future employer in a great company.
Game Tile: Confusion Quest
This is a logic puzzle game that is supposed to illustrate how it feels to have ADHD. Even the smallest everyday task can seem like an epic medieval quest when a person with ADHD is having a bad mental health day. This is why we decided to go with a medieval aesthetic for the art/design.
Disney is very well-known for the immersive experiences they are able to offer in their parks. Every little aspect has to tie in with the rest in order to form one amazing whole that is Disneyland/Disneyworld. Since I am a sound designer, I was interested in how do the Imagineers approach the problem of sound design specifically. It turns out that the parks offer a lot of unique challenges, as well as opportunities. There is a whole team of people working on the sound alone. A few music researchers look up different music online, determine the mood of each park attraction and come up with a bunch of ideas and a mood-board that is then given to the sound lead to create a piece. The pieces are made used different online music resources, as well as Disney’s own sound libraries and new sounds created specifically for the parks. In order to sonify the whole park, a lot of big and small speakers are hidden everywhere around the park. They all play at different times and volumes in order to simulate different effects. It is also very important to think about the difference between times of day within a sound composition. The style of the sound piece must perfectly match the theme of each park attraction. There are also different styles of speakers, from very directional, to ones that are more wide. There are also tons of materials with different levels of absorption around the park. The sound has to attract visitors to explore sections that appeal to them. The environment has to feel like a whole different realm. The sounds include anything from dinosaur roars, birds, fictional monsters, cicadas, wind, water, rainforest, and many, many others. As one approached to each ride, the sounds become less and less audible. Then a more robotic sound design is used to put focus on the rides themselves. As rides progress and take you into the centre of the action, all the incredible sounds come gushing back, hitting the visitors in. the face and leaving them in awe. The following video showcases all these principles and goes in depth on the topics i mentioned in this article:
The following thesis actually comes from one of the universities that I was considering when I was looking for a Master’s programme. I thought it would be interesting to take a dive into what their students did and kind of compare with FH Joanneum.
Author: Olli Ketonen
University: Alto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Country and date: Finland, 2021
I chose this topic because my interest was piqued after realising this thesis offers a more artistic/creative approach to data sonification than I have seen before. The degree seems to be similar to that of FH Joanneum.
Level of design
The final product seems to match the initial expectations of the thesis. The author provided good detail regarding the building process itself.
Degree of innovation
Sonification has been done a lot before, and I believe there was already sonified air quality data before this thesis, however the author decided to expand on an existing subject and add to it in a creative way. He mentioned how unexplored the aesthetic aspects of sonification are. The final product is very unique (data sculpture).
Based only on the thesis text, I would say the author worked mostly independently. I did not see him mention that he asked someone for help in the research. He did, however have a 3D modeller design the sonic sculpture, but according to the Author’s own specifications backed up by research in the thesis.
Outline and structure
Based on Aalto’s own formatting guidelines, this thesis seems to be properly structured. There is tons of graphs that make it easier to read, however I would love it if there were more illustrations that depict the author’s journalling process and the ideas in his head.
Degree of communication
To me personally it was clear, but I am afraid that someone who has no previous experience with air sonification doesn’t know the different abbreviations in the air quality data table. There were some other abbreviations here and there that might be unknown to non-sound designers.
Other than that, the work was explained in great details, with pictures showing what the author meant. He made sure to make the sketches as simple as possible, including only the essential information. he explained all the basics of sonification, so no previous knowledge is necessary to understand the thesis.
Scope of the work The work was 60 pages long + 3 pages of an interview transcript. I thought that was a really nice touch and the amount of information/graphics was just right for a master thesis.
Orthography and accuracy
I did not spot any grammar or syntax errors. Data also seemed to be well backed up and the air quality tracking information was obviously archived meticulously.
There was a very big amount of literature at the end, 85% being specialised books and articles. Only a few sources were online posts or unspecialised articles.
This article talks about some of the Sound Art projects/installations that serve as an essential guide to the art of sound design. The list contains diverse types of works featuring interesting perspective and a different approach to sound.
Luigi Russolo, Gran Concerto Futuristico (1917)
Luigi Russolo is perhaps best known as a painter associated with the Futurist movement in Italy. However, he is also considered one of the earliest (maybe even first) experimental noise painters. Inspired by World War I factory equipment and guns, he invented and built an acoustic noise generator called Intonarumori (meaning “noise source” in Italian). In 1913 he published the Art of Noises, in which he argued that the evolution of urban industrial soundscapes required a new approach to music. For Russolo, melodic music limited the human potential for appreciating more complex sounds. In 1917 he attempted to correct this in his play Gran Concerto Futuristico, for which he put together a noise orchestra playing offending sounds (Music did not sound classical.) Despite the widespread criticism he faced in connection with this piece, he continued to perform well after World War I. Today, his manifesto is considered one of the most important texts in 20th-century music theory.
Marcel Duchamp, Erratum Musical (1913)
Marcel Duchamp was fascinated by how he was able to visualise sound. He said: “You can’t hear the gossip.” Despite being untrained, he was composing music between 1912 and 1915. The end result was radically different from the off-the-shelf Dada model that made him famous. He developed one purely conceptual piece and two conceptual exercises to play, including the Erratum Musical, a randomly arranged sheet music composed for three voices. Duchamp created three sets of 25 cards. F (from F below middle C to F high) with 1 entry per card. Cards are shuffled in the hat and then drawn one at a time. Then I wrote a series of notes in the order in which I removed the cards from the hat. Performers can decide how they want to perform their piece. Duchamp did not give a score in this regard.
John Cage, 4’33” (1952)
For his masterpiece, Cage explored the potential of silence, revolutionising sound art and performance. He is best known for his composition of 4:33 seconds, a three-part composition of 4:33 seconds of silence. Inspired by a visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard University, the work is not known to contain anything special. The performer is invited not to play the instrument or make any noise. However, no silence is truly silent, and the audience is keenly aware of the sounds of the environment during pauses. This koan-like paradox was based on what Cage heard in a Harvard auditorium. He discovered that he could hear his own heartbeat. He wrote of the experience, “I will hear it until I die.” “And they will continue after I die. You don’t have to be afraid of the future of music.”
Bill Fontana, Distant Trains (1984)
By the 1960s and early 1970s, advances in digital media increased the opportunities of visible artists and composers running on the intersection of sound and sculpture. Bill Fontana become a pioneer in growing sculpted sound maps for city environments. At the “Remote Trains” exhibition in Berlin for a month in 1984, a loudspeaker become buried withinside the web website online of the previous Anhalter Bahnhof Station, one in every of Europe’s busiest teach stations earlier than World War II. It become destroyed with the aid of using bombing at some stage in the conflict and become formally decommissioned in 1952. A stay microphone become housed withinside the Köln Hauptbahnhof, which recreates the phantom sound surroundings with the aid of using transmitting acoustics in actual time from the noisy station to the deserted Anhalter Bahnhof.
Max Neuhaus,Times Square (1977–92)
Max Neuhaus’s most famous work is a pulsating drone that fires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from a subway steam hatch at the northern tip of Manhattan’s triangular pedestrian island. (Thanks to the MTA and the Dia Art Foundation, this work is permanent near Times Square.) Inside it, the pitch and pitch change as passers-by move around the block. “A rich harmonic sound texture reminiscent of a large bell after a bell is ringing is impossible in this context,” Neuhaus said. “For those who discover and embrace the impossibility of sound, the island becomes another place that includes its surroundings but is separate.”
Carsten Nicolai,Reflektor Distortion(2016)
Berlin and Chemnitz artist Karsten Nikolai has been working since the 1980s at the intersection of sound media, science and the visual arts. Nikolai, co-founder of the influential “sound not sound” electronic music label RasterNoton, has exhibited sound and video installations twice: at Documenta X in Kassel, Germany and at the Venice Biennale, Italy. Much of his work is aimed at creating sound and light phenomena perceived by the human eye and ear. In 2016 he presented the Reflektor Distortion at Galerie Eigen + Art Berlin, where a rotating water bass strikes through a speaker at a low audible frequency. The ripples in the water reflected the frequency of the waves, making the sound visible only for a short period of time.
Jem Finer, Longplayer (1999)
On December 31, 1999, the British musician and artist Jem Finer began playing a piece of ambient music that will finish in the year 3000. Provided humanity endures another 1,000 years, Longplayer will be the most epic piece of music ever performed, outstripping John Cage’s 639-year-long organ concert currently taking place in a church in Halberstadt, Germany. Longplayer is housed in a lighthouse in London and processed by a computer algorithm that mechanically extends the sound of a single instrument consisting of 234 Tibetan singing bowls. The sound is without repetition or break. “The intention [of Longplayer] is that its droning and parping will, like this year’s eclipse, make the hearers ponder the passing of time in a way that makes you feel both mortal and insignificant,” wrote the Evening Standard on the night of its commencement in 1999.
Christian Marclay, Recycled Records(1980–86)
For nearly 40 years, Swiss-American sound artist and experimental DJ Christian Marclay has manipulated sound into physical form through photography, sculpture, installation, and performance. The artist is credited with pioneering an experimental form of turntablism, in which sound is altered through multiple turntables. Inspired by the noise experiments of composer John Cage and early hip-hop DJs, Marclay began incorporating prerecorded dissonant sounds produced by vinyl records in motion into his turntable performances. In the seminal series “Recycled Records,” the artists sliced apart vinyl records and reassembled the pieces to create new arrangements.
Susan Philipsz, Lowlands(2010)
The Scottish-born, Berlin-based artist Susan Philipsz uses site-specific sound installations to probe the link between sense and memory. “Sound is materially invisible but very visceral and emotive,” she once said. “It can define a space at the same time as it triggers a memory.” In 2010, she was awarded the Turner Prize for the sound installation Lowlands, the first work of its kind ever to earn an artist the famed award. In the winning iteration of the piece, Philipsz performed three variations of a Scottish lament about a drowned lover who returns to her lover’s dreams, beneath three bridges over the River Clyde during the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. The Turner judges also considered Long Gone, in which a recording of the artists singing the eponymous Syd Barrett song played at the entrance of the Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo in Spain. Her win attracted criticisms from detractors who argued that she should be classified as a singer, not an artist. The judges, however, insisted otherwise.
Samson Young, For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey Into the Sonic History of Conflict (2015)
A traditionally trained composer, Hong-Kong based Young has been on the rise since he won the inaugural edition of Art Basel’s BMW Art Journey Award in 2015 for his project For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey Into the Sonic History of Conflict. Over two-months, he documented the chime of iconic bells across five continents. He then crafted responses which explored the bells’ status as musical instruments and political, social, and religious representations of their communities. In June 2016, he drew critical acclaim at Art Basel Unlimited for a similar exploration into the militarization of sound. Seated atop a booth-sized cube and dressed in police uniform, Young performed with a Long Range Acoustic Device, a sonic weapon used to disperse crowds at protests. A low level form of the weapon is also used to repel birds from private properties, which Young represented by recreating distressed bird calls.
Christine Sun Kim, Close Readings (2015)
Berlin-based artist Christine Sun Kim centers the systemic barriers attached to deafness. Kim was selected for the 2013 MoMA exhibition “Soundings,” the museum’s first major show dedicated to sound art. In 2019, a group of charcoal drawings by Kim were included in the Whitney Biennial. The work, along with the piece One Week of Lullabies for Roux (2018), became the first sound art installations acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2020.
Mainstream digital media is still stuck in stereo. Most people cannot imagine how music would sound in a realm of multi-channel setups. Ambisonic music has a small, but dedicated fanbase consisting mostly of audio nerds- engineers, sound designers and music producers who are looking to innovate their craft. Right now, ambisonics are in their infancy when it comes to nightclubs and festivals. So far, there are only 2 organisations that have made strides in making the 3D club dream a reality.
Envelop San Francisco
Envelop Audio is a company that funded most of their ventures through Kickstarter campaigns. They released a series of free devices for Ableton Live, which help turn the DAW into an ambisonic production suite. They set a campaign goal of only 27,000 USD to build a space that will continue to be used as a 3D nightclub and a place for other ambisonic events, like sound baths and ambisonic workshops. The good thing about this club is not only that music lovers get to experience clubbing on another level, but the experiments and innovations within the space contribute to the further development of ambisonics as a field in audio engineering. The SF-based club has 32 speakers and 4 subwoofers to play with. There is a certain setup required to run all these speakers. The DJ must use Ableton and the Envelop 4 Live devices, as well as a touch-optimised app for controlling individual elements of a multitrack composition, just like a mixer would. From there, musicians can perform and mix their music from Ableton and control how much of which sound goes to which speaker. The great thing about Envelop is that the company found a solution on how to expand their reach and introduce more people to the joys of ambisonic music. This is done through their other, more mobile events, called Envelop Satellite and Envelop Pop-Up Events. Satellite is a large mobile space that can be assembled at different locations for important events, with full immersion which includes walls and a makeshift wall. Pop-Up is a more compact version intended for use at festivals or daytime events, even indoor! The system consists of an immersive listening space defined by 8 points of immersive sound and audio-reactive lights.
Club “Audio” San Francisco
The second immersive club is oddly enough also situated in San Francisco, and is iconically called “Audio”. The debut 3D event happened in November 2017 with one of the currently most popular House DJs, Jamie Jones. The club partnered up with Funktion One (pioneers among live audio technology) to bring forth a multi-speaker setup where individual elements are separated similarly to Envelop’s setup.. On top of everything, there are fully functional rumble packs under the dancefloor to improve the immersion with bass frequencies. The venue packs 400 people and is claiemd to be a massive upgrade to the dance scene and the so called “altar for DJ Gods”.
David Tudor was an experimental composer and pianist of great importance in the development of music and recording techniques. He utilised both electronics (his homemade musical circuits) and analogue instruments. Most of his published works were in experimental electronic music. This article presents a number of his works recorded in video, as well as providing information and the history behind the works.
Rainforest began as an experimental musical composition, but with time, it evolved into a full-scale musical installation. Like many performance-based installations, there were a lot of different versions of it in every event.
Untitled is a part of a series composed in the 1970s. The series was produced through experiments in generating electronic sound without oscillators, tone generators, or recorded sounds. Composed in 1972, it was designed for simultaneous performance with John Cage’s vocalization of his Mesotics re Merce Cunningham. The work was redone in 1982, and performed with improvised vocals by Takehisa Kosugi.
MICROPHONE was a work David Tudor created for the Pepsi Pavilion in 1970 using feedback in the Pavilion space between two shotgun microphones and the 37 speakers that were placed inside. This feedback was processed through a system designed by Gordon Mumma. Another version was made at Mills College which utilized more than just one room/hall. MICROPHONE was the basis for a commission titled “Dinosaur Parts” (1974) with the Viola Farber Dance Company. There was a video dance collaboration, “Brazos River”, made with Viola Farber (choreography), Robert Rauschenberg (sets), and David Tudor (music).
This work was part of Three Works For Live Electronics. Originally released on LP in 1984 and rereleased in September 1996, just following Tudor’s death on August 13, Phonemes was added to it.
Phonemes was commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for Cunningham’s dance Inserts, a work made both as a “film dance” and for the stage. Phonemes uses 2 discrete processes which provide input source material for an array of sound modifying electronics, which creates lots of outputs.
Pulsers dives into rhythms created electronically by analog circuitry. With analog, the time-base common to the rhythms can be varied in a multitude of ways by the performer.
Neural Synthesis (No. 2), was created for the Neural-Network Audio Synthesizer, an instrument developed for David Tudor by the designer Forrest Warthman in collaboration with Mark Thorson and Mark Holler of Intel Corporation. The instrument uses Intel’s 80710NX neural-network chip, which can process both analog and digital signals at the same time. The Neural-Network Audio Synthesizer is unique because it utilises exclusively the chip’s analog capabilities.
The album Neural Synthesis 6-9 combines music and electrical engineering, all inspired by biology. Tudor surrounds the synthesiser with his own unique electronic devices, and in the recording of the CD version meant for headphone listening, he used a new binaural technique for translating sound into out-of-head localisations. The sound seems to originate from specific, changing points around the listener’s space. David Tudor’s Neural Synthesis recordings are based off of a score named Neural Network Plus. A stereo ambient microphone (Pearl TL-4) was placed in the middle of the room above a Sennheiser binaural head outfitted with Sony ECM-5 microphones.