Introduction

The Choreography of Sound (CoS) is a project about the spatial in music, addressing in particular the domain of electroacoustic music. In contrast to acoustic sound, with its properties causally deriving from its origin and in which space is embedded in its nature, synthetic sound has no inherent properties, spatial or otherwise, and can be composed as a formal construct, with temporal and spatial properties opened to the imagination and the skills of its constructor.

In our approach sound is conceived including a spatial dimension. The sonic object has spatial extension, ideally suggesting the perception of dwelling in space. This perception, however, is not a direct and easy matter with which one can count for granted, quite on the contrary, it is our conviction that this goal will only be achieved through the collaborative action of compositional, scientific and technological forces. We are searching for the emergence of a perception of materiality of synthetic sound matter: the illusion of a sound object with the corporality of a plastic object. A change of perspective with consequences not to be underestimated in the conception of the composition of music.

Bodily sound dwelling and moving in space could easily be approached from a choreographic perspective. Being performance and interpretation of music two of its most magical forces, we seek to embrace them in our research project, and the idea to have choreographers and dancers as collaborators, performing the music in the space through their movements within a global conception arose as a most suggestive path ultimately capable of cross-fertilizing the two arts from yet another perspective. The enhancement it can bring forth to our spatial sound and the new dimension of relationships to be discovered between the body and the music are fascinating challenges.

The spatial in music is a field which has known an enormous impetus in artistic and scientific development over the last decades, particularly in our own domain of electroacoustic music,  and it is one of our purposes to know about and learn from as many from these different approaches as possible. A scholarly trend with which we seek to better ground our research and, ultimately, to enrich our own particular approach/conception. The project, as one could guess from all the above, merges comfortably into the field of arts-based research, where scholarly, scientific, technological, and artistic forces collaborate to learn about and advance further in the evasive realm of creation.

The Choreography of Sound (CoS) is a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through its Program for Arts-based Research (PEEK). It is based at the Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (KUG), and will be running from September 2010 to September 2013. Generously supported, the project counts with two production and research laboratories: the CUBE – a 120m2 performance and laboratory space combining a professional motion tracking system and a 3D Higher-Order Ambisonics sound projection system based on an array of 24 loudspeakers – housed at IEM, and the György-Ligeti-Hall at MUMUTH (Haus für Musik und Musiktheater), KUG’s newly built 500 m2 performance venue and laboratory space, including similar motion tracking and sound projection systems – 33 loudspeakers furnished with a computer controlled telescopic position and orientation system – alongside with an advanced system for variable room acoustics.