Diffusion Enhanced Network of Inspired Sounds (DENIS)




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Premiered October 13, 2009, Concert Room, City University London.


Recording, musical

Peer reviewed



An electroacoustic work created by John Harrison and John Young to mark the occasion of Denis Smalley's retirement from City University. The work was created from 63 sound files sent by composers from all around the world.


To Denis Smalley Denis Smalley… retiring…? That thought will have given many of the musicians in our field pause for thought. Denis has encouraged, challenged and inspired so many of those in the contemporary music community through his music, his writings and his fabulously acute musical sense. We know, of course, that composers never really retire, but we feel that someone with such a presence in electroacoustic music, and who continues to have such a far-reaching influence on the way it is made and understood, deserves a very heartfelt musical send-off from university teaching. We — Jonty Harrison and John Young — contacted musicians around the world, all with a special connection to Denis, and asked them to send us a sound file of between 1 and 15 seconds long with the idea of weaving them into a short work that would express something of our appreciation of Denis Smalley’s talents. We asked that each participant provide a sound that for them has some connection with Denis — either because it ‘sounds like’ him, or a sound they might not have engaged with were it not for Denis’s music or theoretical writings, or because it reminds them of a shared place, occasion or musical moment. Duly, we found time in the University of Birmingham studios to make this work, and soon arrived at a conscious decision to form the piece out of the sounds more or less as we were given them, with a minimum of processing… save for the odd bit of editing, equalization and stretching. We regard this piece as a joint effort on a grand scale — and revel in the idea that this may be the first time that an audience of composers play to a single, honoured and, we hope, approving listener!


Acousmatic composition, collaborative composition, Denis Smalley


Harrison, J. and Young, J. (2009) Diffusion Enhanced Network of Inspired Sounds (DENIS), acousmatic composition, duration 6'26"


Research Institute

Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)