Speculations 2, May 2016


Speculations 2, the second edition of Speculations in Sound (a weekend discussion event gathering members from CeReNeM’s Speculations in Sound International Research Network) took place at Queen’s University Belfast on May 7 and 8, 2016. Jointly organised by Michael Clarke (CeReNeM, Huddersfield) and Michael Alcorn (Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), QUB) with the support of Matthew Sergeant and Frédéric Dufeu from CeReNeM and Matilde Meireles, Craig Jackson, David Bird, Hannah Casey, and Pearl Young from SARC,these two days of intensive discussions on the three-dimensional spatialisation of sound were associated to the Sonorities festival, including a series of 3D audio concerts in the Sonic Lab at SARC.


The event was a significant gathering of leading international figures in sound spatialisation, representing many of the major institutions working in this field. These included Natasha Barrett (University of Oslo), Ludger Brümmer (ZKM, Karlsruhe), Bill Brunson (KMH, Stockholm), Gary Kendall (formerly at QUB), Fernando Lopez-Lezcano (Stanford University), Eric Lyon (Virginia Tech), Markus Noisternig (Ircam, Paris), Robert Normandeau (Université de Montréal), David Pirrò (IEM, Graz), Jøran Rudi and Notto Thelle (NoTAM, Oslo), Barry Truax (Simon Fraser University), and Hans Tutschku (Harvard University) in addition to those working in this field at SARC (Trevor Agus, Michael Alcorn and Pedro Rebelo) and at CeReNeM (Michael Clarke, Frédéric Dufeu, Alex Harker and Hyunkook Lee).


Prior to the event, participants were asked to provide two ‘challenges’ to be printed on postcards – problems or issues they would like to see resolved and requiring different fields of expertise from their own. On the basis of these individual challenges, the participants could exchange, react, and speculate on varied topics such as the compositional practice involving 3D sound, the aesthetic and technical perspectives and limitations of currently developed systems, parameters, abstractions and representations for sound in space, system portability, psychoacoustic studies, and the impact of 3D composition to the audience.


The distinctive format of the event, with participants sharing questions, problems and aspirations, rather than bringing completed research outcomes, was very positively received by those attending and further follow up meetings in some of the other international centres represented are planned. Speculations 2 was videoed and it is intended that these be transcribed and re-worked with additional material for a publication. The Speculations in Sound website will also be extended as a repository for research materials in this increasingly important area of music technology, and funding for continuing research in this field is to be sought.

[Report by Michael Clarke and Frédéric Defeu. With thanks to Fernando Lopez-Lecano for the use of his photographs.]