Composing for the Performance Space: A practice-based investigation on the design of interfaces for spatial sound and lighting

Gottschalk Costabile, Ian
(2022) Composing for the Performance Space: A practice-based investigation on the design of interfaces for spatial sound and lighting. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis presents a compositional portfolio that incorporates design methods for creating interactivity between music, spatialised multichannel audio and lighting. This is presented in the form of musical scores, commentary, and a summary of interfaces for sound spatialisation and lighting, including technical studies that present new design concepts and industrial prototypes. Furthermore, it reveals a new mixed-media format, Sound Canvas, that can be used for the display of interactive music and sound art within galleries. Spatial music has, for some years, been extensively explored in experimental music through different analogue and digital systems. Examples can be found in the electroacoustic works of Schaeffer (e.g., Symphonie Pour un Homme Seul, 1951—performed through the ‘space potentiometer’ device), Stockhausen (e.g., Gesang Der Jünglinge, 1955-56; Oktophonie, 1991), Xenakis (e.g., Bohor, 1962; Hibiki Hana Ma, 1969-70), and in the sound installations of Bernhard Leitner (e.g., Double Arching, 1999; Sonambiente, 2006). The technology available today allows composers to use not only what is commercially available, but also to implement their own systems for spatialisation and performance interaction. The expansion of new audio codecs and microcontroller technology offers new possibilities to be musically explored. Similarly, current stage lighting technology can also be explored further through experimentation. Whereas stage lighting in popular music has been commonly explored by lighting designers, this has not been widely investigated in contemporary music. By using software such as Cycling '74’s Max and open-source hardware platforms such as the Arduino, composers can design their own interfaces for sound-light control. These two forms of expression—space and light—allow composers to move beyond traditional notation and create sound interactions within the performance space, which can become multisensory and yield new forms of artistic expression. Taking practice-based and applied research strategies, this thesis suggests new ideas for the two mediums and narrates the process of development through design. Keywords: sound spatialisation, sound-light interaction, interactive composition, music interface design, performance space, multichannel audio, multisensory music, sound canvas, mixed-media art, kinetic music, kinetic sound art, virtual concerts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2022 16:08
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:13
DOI: 10.17638/03148591