Every one of the 33 speakers could be lit separetely, which I either used to point out particular speakers I was talking about or to simultaneously light speakers when they where projecting sound grains forming what I refer to as space filling textures. The following photo shows all the 33 speakers lit, later during Martin Rumori's introduction to the Virtual MUMUTH (its visualisation can be seen projected in the photo).
There are obviously moments in listening to the recording of the performance, when the light effects are missing. Due to the different speeds of sound and light, speakers far from the listening position seemed to sound late with respect to their light, which also illustrated what I refer to a temporal dispersion. I used my voice as sound material, sending it to different speakers to illustrate the different ways they excite the room (speaker switching section from 5'24" to 6'04" in the rendering). I also recorded short voice fragments to illustrate certain aspects of the speaker configuration. The performance was recorded in 34 channels - the 33 signals feedings the loudspeakers and the direct signal from the microphone. This recording has been rendered binaurally using the Virtual MUMUTH system for a listening position close to the position I was standing at while performing (offside, the same as used for Among above
). So the recording reproduces my perspective rather then the audience's one, who gathered in the center of the hall. My voice was amplified though all speakers in the hall. In the rendering the direct microphone signal was mixed in, simulating the direct signal from my mouth, which also largely improved intelligibility. There is no direct signal mixed in in the speaker switching section, so there the effect is actually clearer in the rendering than it was in the hall.
Towards identifying results
CoS is an artistic research project aiming at furthering the practice of electroacoustic music composition, especially with respect to the way space is conceived in this music. This implies further developing the theory of this music, as there is no practice without theory, no doing without thinking (and no experience without cognition either). As an artistic research project, CoS performs research through artistic practice, aiming at transforming this very practice (possibly at the same time). So there cannot be a clear distinction between method and object of research. In the case of Among, the method was to compose the case study. The goal was to propose alternatives to traditional ways of thinking space in electroacoustic music composition, such as the wide-spread separation of thinking the sound from thinking it's spatialisation – the gesture ingrained in the term spatialisation, i.e. putting something into space, which is out of it in the first place (whatever that means).
Each case study is supposed to create, incorporate or make emerge some kind of knowledge. When exposing the case study as research, this knowledge gained in the process has to be made explicit to the degree possible or at least made sharable in some way, e.g. through experience (preceeded and followed by refection - as experience is always framed by reflection, sensation and cognition being inseparable). One way of approaching this problems is in trying to formulate a claim, which is what I am tying for Among now.
When using a larger number of loudspeakers separated by distances reaching up to tens of meters, the differences in sound propagation time bring about significant temporal deformations of rhythmic structures who's elements are spread over the speakers. These differences are of course dependent on the listening position, implying that listeners separated by more than a few meters may experience rhythmic structures significantly differently. Moving listeners will constantly shift the temporal defomration pattern characteristic for their listening position as a function of their movement. With the loudspeaker configuration used in Among, the differences in propagation time reach up to 90 ms – an effect I am referring to as temporal dispersion, since it has consequences for the temporal structure of what a listener experiences (and not only on the sound quality). Depending on what one projects with a configuration of many loudspeakers scattered in a large room, the temporal dispersion may have a more or less significant influence on the experience.
When developing the space filling textures I use in Among, I was using entry delays for the different texture elements in the order of magnitude of the sound propagation delays. This is how the temporal dispersion and its location dependency (implicitly/unconsciously) became a constitutive element of my compositional approach. By using a fixed entry delay for each layer (i.e. a steady pulse of events, with which I started for the sake of simplicity and then stayed with it) and only very small variations in the sound material of successive events, the effects of the temporal dispersion are clearly exposed. But this was not intended when I was composing the textures. I chose the entry delays, the sound material and its variation on aesthetic grounds, in a laborious (and well-documented) trial-and-error process. It took me many tests involving extensive listening walks in the hall and numerous headphone sessions using auralizations of different listening positions until I achieved the qualities I was looking for.
The goal was to compose textures which create an interesting experience from any position in the hall and which also allow for changing the listening position. One of my working definitions of a texture is that it is always the same without ever repeating itself, i.e. it keeps its identity through change resp. variation. In the case of space filling textures, change does not only concern time but also space. One temporal aspect is the slow change in the sound material, which makes each event easily comparable to the last one (if one decides to focus on this feature) and the other temporal aspect are the position- and sequence-dependent deviations from the steady pulse of each layer. But the latter aspect is induced by the (changing) spatial relationship of the speakers and the listeners.
Since it's start it has been one of the hypotheses of the CoS project that interactions between event timing and propagation delays could be compositionally effective, especially in a practice which aims at deeply engaging with space as a constitutive aspect of sound. But in the development of the case study Among this consideration was not a driving force. So, in fact, I found something I was not looking for. But I think I only noticed its significance in my practice after the fact because I was sensitized to consider this interesting field, where the interrelatedness of time and space play a central role in composing sonic space.
Among has also confirmed another basic intuition about composing sonic space driving the project, namely that the change of perspective in our listening imagination and/or behaviour is essential to create a vivid and captivating spatial experience. Choreographing this behaviour of the listener (i.e. creating a sonic situation with a particular and well-suited set of listening affordances) is an important aspect of composing sonic space. I think this applies both for constituting identity through objecthood (which is what I perceive as the domain of Ramón's research) or through textureness (which is more along my direction of inquiry).
So the claim Among manifests through the listening experience it provokes and the reflection emerging from it, is that there is an interest in using loudspeaker configurations which would be considered deficient from a traditional point of view of spatialisation because if their heterogeneity with respect to orientation and propagation delays. When composing for such configurations in a way incorporating these features (which are an abundant source of variation) results can be obtained, which are not imaginable with standard ways of thinking spatialisation. So far the theoretical claim, which is paired on the pragmatic level with the design patterns extracted from the compositional process I exposed in my presentation separating the two experiences of the sound environment.