Re: Immersive soundscapes and theory

Subject: Re: Immersive soundscapes and theory
From: Kevin Austin (
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 01:08:20 EDT

While you have not (de)limited "immersive", in western art sound I
would tend to start (distinctively) with Charles Ives, notably the
Fourth Symphony, the practice of which cannot be (IMV) separated from
the aesthetic / philosophical. There is no definitive version of the
Second Movement, for there are sounds in the ensemble that cannot be
heard beyond the immediate area of the players.

If immersive is to include spatial presentation (eg multi-source
work), then Venice of the 16th century needs to be there.

With regards to technology and more than one point source (mono),
there is Stokowski, the Philadelphia Orchestra and RCA in the 30s,
along with Disney's multi-channel Fantasia.

A number of other composers produced spatially displaced
multi-ensemble pieces from the 50s (?) and on including (I believe)
Henry Brant.

Stockhausen worked in five channels for Gesang in the mid-50s, and in
(about) 1968, the Montreal entrepreneur Dave Wilson (of the Audio
Shop), with Paul Pedersen (and others?) designed and built the 12
channel 'Spectrophonia' installation at Terre des hommes in Montreal.
A most remarkable version of the Berio Sinfonia was presented there
for a summer. Also John Cage's HPSCHD springs to mind.

The Salmar construction had a large number of speakers (24??) strung
out over the audience. From (about) 1970 - 1975, the Montreal-based
live electronic music ensemble, MetaMusic, presented about 120 - 150
concerts in eight channels, often with the group sitting in the
middle of the space, with four channels facing out and four channels
from the corners.

The French multi-speaker orchestra is well-known, and there are a
number of texts and articles on the (sound) projection (diffusion) of
stereo source materials, mostly in french, but you will decide
whether the projection of a stereo signal over pairs of speakers is

There has been of late some interest in 5.1, and the recent Harvest
Moon Festival in Montreal had more than 35 works in 8-channels. At
the same event, the 10-channel Butterfly Installation Instrument was
presented both with words on (5) CDs, and some live performance.

One may question whether the (rather amateurish) conceptual work,
Forty Voice Motet of the visual artist Janet Cardiff qualifies is

You may wish to follow the line of questioning that Eliot recently
proposed since you ask a very similar question regarding the
aesthetic (and reasons?) for multi-source sound.

Someone will direct you to the surround-sound lists, and there is
also a loose network of individuals interested in the problem of
'transportability' of multi-speaker pieces from smaller to larger
spaces -- the Acoustical Mapping Project.

Please let us know the results of your work.



At 00:08 -0400 2004/10/23, andrea cornell wrote:
>Hello to all the peoples of the list!
>I am in need of some aid....
>I wish to locate theoretical texts that discuss issues of immersive
>sonic environments, or more broadly, immersive artistic
>practices/experiments. As I am mock-curaing an art exhibit that
>revolves around immersive sonic environments, some of which are
>interactive, and I need a theoretical or historical foundation for
>my critical analysis of these works that i am mock-curating.
>thanks for anything
>Post your free ad now!

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