I am currently in Førde with Jeremy Welsh, installing a new version of “Atmospherics” at Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum. We will be using the beautiful “Høgsalen”, and this is the biggest exhibition space that I have ever worked in, 150 m2 with 7 meters to the ceiling. I have installed 20 speakers surrounding the space, 10 near the ceiling, and 10 near the floor. I will be working with 1st and 3rd order ambisonics, and based on initial listening tests I expect to be able to work with the vertical dimension of sound fields to a degree that I have seldom done before.
Initial listening tests also revealed that the space has an acoustic character of its own, with pronounced flutter echoes caused by sound waves ricocheting between the front and back walls. There’s also a pronounced build up of resonances in the deeper mid range, and I’ll need to tune and filter material to the space. In such a large space this is to be expected, and an important part of the development of content on site is the tuning of sound material so that it works well with the acoustics of the space.
Fortunately we have more time for installing than I am used to; close to two weeks. The initial listening tests caused me to kick of a development effort that I have wanted to do for several years: Build a 4-channel equalizer for processing of ambisonic B-format signals. Using the cookdsp library for Reaper JSFX development, this has progressed much faster than expected, and asfter two days I now have a fully working first version of the EQ.
With further use and testing I am sure that the user interface can be improved further, but it will do for now. I expect it to be a huge improvement to the creative workflow in terms of tuning and mixing several layers of simultaneous layers of ambisonic sound material. I also know that this is an investments that will pay dividends for several years to come.
Last week I was in Venice to assist in setting up the Albanian Pavilion for the 2016 Architecture Biennale.
I have left you the mountain presents ten new texts written by contemporary writers and thinkers on the architecture of displacement. These texts have been set to music and sung by some of the last remaining groups of Albanian iso-polyphonic singers, an art form now protected as “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO.
The pavilion is curated by Simon Battisti, Leah Whitman-Salkin and Åbäke, and sound design and programming is by Peter Meanwell (artistic director for Borealis) and yours truly.
Performances were captured as 8 channel audio recordings with separate channels for each voice. Using 8 speakers at the pavilion each of the voices is reproduced individually. Playback is controlled by a record player playing MsPinky vinyl records containing timecode information. A Max patch interprets this information in order to control playback of the 8 channel tracks.
I hoped to be able to spend the final days seeing the rest of the biennale and experience Venice in general, but old Mr. Max is a jealous person, and managed to come up with various bugs to keep me occupied. By the end of the stay it seems like we had managed to track them down and make workarounds, and the patch has now been stable for the past three days. Let’s hope that it stays that way.
The pavilion seems to be well received:
The Albanian space is an unexpected delight, a highlight: tiny corner of Arsenale minimally divided with a rubber curtain, and minimally filled with some pink casts, and voices. Ten texts by contemporary authors, about the architecture of displacement – geographical, cultural – are set to music and sung by some of the last Albanian ico-polyphonic singers, a UNESCO-protected intangible cultural heritage. A longing for belonging, for the structures of culture, is beautifully evoked.
ATK for Reaper v.1.0.0 beta 7 is now available for download. This version improves the graphical user interfaces for a number of decorders. It introduce monitoring of decoded sound levels for a number of decoders: Stereo, Quadrophonic, 5_0, Pantophonic 2D and Periphonic 3D. Additionally it displays the channel configuration for these plugins, making it easier to get channel routing right. The new Periphonic 3D decoder decodes to two rings of speakers.
These additions are the outcome of a short-term residency and workshop that I had at SCRIME in Bordeaux last week. The GUIs for the decoders are inspired by user interfaces from HOALibrary for Max. Peak level metering is based on code by Phil Burke.
As part of a short term residency at SCRIME in Bordeaux, I am currently participating in a three day workshop on ambisonics and field recording. The workshop will be used to test out new ambisonic recording gear at SCRIME, including field recordings and listening sessions, and offers an introduction to how to work with ambisonics in Reaper using the Ambisonic Toolkit.
In addition to the workshop I have also made some good progress on improving the GUIs of a number of decoders. These will be available in the next ATK for Reaper installer.
Ircam has posted a video from the fall 2015 Ircam Forum.
It is interesting to observe how the presentation of these kind of events is getting more professional and “awsome”. With the development of similar but independent and possibly commercially based events such as MusicTechFest, I guess there is some kind of competition kicking in here. If it helps getting new ideas and technologies out, I suppose it is a good thing.