I have had many experiences with immersive spatial sound.
I gained a fascination for surround sound spatial music at undergraduate level, especially a formative experience hearing a 6 drum-kit immersive piece by Iannis Xenakis called ‘Persophessa’. This piece sits the audience in the middle with 6 drummers surrounding the audience.. Precision spatial ideas made motifs swirl around the concert hall in a bewildering cauldron of sound! It was truly one of the most amazing musical experience i have ever had, especially since Xenakis was there. (It was a concert played when he was accepting an honourary doctorate from Glasgow University). A few of us students got to meet and shake hands with him, most definitely one of the 20C most influential and groundbreaking composers.
Whilst studying for my MA in Electroacoustic composition under Jonty Harrison I composed for and performed on B.E.A.S.T. (Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre), a multi-speaker setup which, at the time, using diffusion techniques. This involved diffusing a stereo track onto the rig live using a fader system. Speakers were placed in the front, around the sides and at the back of the concert hall as well as overhead tweeters above the audience.
Once I graduated I began making binaural (super stereo microphone recordings, – the microphones can be placed in your ears facing outward, so when you play back in headphones the spatial element is totally immersive). I chose to record sound from eco-festivals, quickly becoming aware that the eco-festival is a very unusual sonic space. The sheer fact of having 2000 people in the UK, in a few fields with no sounds of modernity.. no cars, no noisy generators is a highly unusual sonic environment, the sounds of people having fun and laughing, communicating freely, and some beautiful music too. I incorperated a company called Solidsilence and ran it from 2003 – 2008 producing binaural fieldwave immersive CD’s to give the flavour of the beauty of people relaxing and enjoying together, there’s so much laughter! The website for Solidsilence was taken down many years ago, however i have keep a legacy copy of images from the website and the CD’s are now available for free from Mixcloud. For more information on Solidsilence click here.
In 2013 i ran an experimental room in a massive rave in Stonebridge Park, London. I borrowed a professional theatre-hire matrix mixer and was supplied with 4 amplifiers. We set up the 8 speaker in a circle and used portable cd and minidisc players for the 8 inputs.. A simple but super powerful setup.
In 2015 and 2016 i organised 2 x 6-channel surround concerts at New River Studios, Manor House, London. The first was a little hard to do as the technology meant that there was a 0.5 sec latency which was hard to play with live. The second concert in 2016 was the launch of my album “The Eclipse Collaborations” and was much more successful as a friend had made a custom plugin for me to use. The concert involved 11 performers and all the track were spatialized on-the-fly.
Since 2022 i started working with the Amoenus Ambisonic Sound System at Iklectik and have completed 3 Tuesdays Post : Live Progressive Ambient ambisonic concerts to date with the next one on September 12th 2023. I am actively helping my performers to use the system so they get the chance to think in a spatial way too. Check out the Tuesdays Post Youtube channel for previous event footage.
Alongside the concert series presented on the Amoenus ambisonic sound theatre this year I have been involved in several other immersive sound events.
- I featured in a panel talk discussing spatial music at a Sova Audio event SoundIILight in Leyton where I also presented 2 short ambisonic works.
- I attended a week long residency with the incredible and unique 4DSOUND immersive rig at Stone Nest, Cambridge Circus, London, presenting a group composition to a sellout audience.
- My piece ‘FocuSing’ was included in a conference at Gloucester University called Everyday is Spatial in June. I also gave a short talk on ‘Formalism and Referentialism in Spatial Music’.
I have a number of unreleased Ambisonic pieces. For each of these an Ambix 16ch 3rd Order file can be provided on request. I have released “Undivided” on Soundcloud, bounced down as a binaural mix so please listen on headphones for best experience.
I have uploaded the Solidsilence 4 fieldwave documentary CD’s of binaurally recorded sounds from eco-festivals in the UK on Mixcloud.
Here is one of them.