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Peer reviewed


Much of my research to date has been concerned with the relationship between acousmatic compositional practice and sound art. In Batchelor 2015, I attempted to identify some potential overlaps and compatibilities between these two apparently incompatible forms which might prove fruitful when applied to broader, Sound Art-related practice. A not inconsiderable part of my discussion concerned the relevance of acousmatic music to a wider listenership, and how such work might be brought to new audiences. I argue that there is much to be gained from the application of acousmatic compositional techniques and practices to sound art contexts, and that detailed ‘musical’ as well as referential listening might be encouraged in real-world contexts if appropriate strategies are implemented to accommodate it.

One of the aspects of acousmatic music most immediately compelling to the uninitiated listener is the deployment of sound in space. However, the large-scale coordinated multichannel speaker arrays required for the high-quality presentation of acousmatic works are usually seen as the preserve of institutions who can provide the resource required for reliable, high quality signal processing and sample-accurate digital audio conversion. Recent developments in low-cost computing, however, allow affordable distributed networks which, while requiring certain compromises and modifications to workflow, can nevertheless accommodate rich acousmatic soundscape generation over multiple channels at a relatively low cost. This in turn permits the development of particularly extravagant multichannel arrays.

As such, since 2004, I have been developing a series of works, collectively entitled GRIDs, comprising such affordable, user-defined multichannel arrays. These are sculptural insofar as they are physical, navigable objects comprising geometric configurations of many (in some cases potentially hundreds of) loudspeakers. Being so massively (and geometrically) multichannel, they permit the generation of extremely intricate and immersive spatial sound environments, which encourage ambulatory investigation and scrutiny. My approach to the composition of material for all of these environments has emerged directly from an acousmatic compositional aesthetic and associated spatialisation practice, employed with a view to exploring how listeners might engage with constructed image space (e.g. experiencing it through, beyond, or within the physical object).

The current work, Cascade (2018), presents a flat-panel array of 256 small loudspeakers suspended in a 16x16 array above the listener. The volume of speakers is accommodated by the use of affordable technologies as described above—in this case, networked Raspberry Pi computers and cheap multichannel gaming interfaces. Aside from exploring the technical and aesthetic challenges inherent in managing such volumes of loudspeakers with a view to creating a coherent spatial sound environment, the installation seeks, through a series of short compositions, to consider the deployment of acousmatic compositional materials and strategies across the ‘flat panel’ speaker space.

Batchelor, P., 2015. Acousmatic Approaches to the Construction of Image and Space in Sound Art. Organised Sound, 20(2), pp.148-159.

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cascade, multichannel, acousmatic, soundscape, installation, electroacoustic, sound art


Batchelor, P (2018) Cascade


Research Institute