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Sound Design for Whale Hall at Natural History Museum



The Nature Historic Museum in Bergen is the first and oldest building of the University of Bergen. It is a landmark in the city and is itself preserved as a historic building. This includes several of the exhibitions, not least the majestic Whale Hall. Several smaller and eleven large whale skeletons are mounted in the ceiling, including a 24 meter blue whale.

The museum is currently closed and undergoing restorations. Bjarne Kvinnsland, David Rothenberg and myself have been invited to work on a super-exciting project. A 24 channel sound installation will be part of the permanent exhibition in the Whale Hall. The speakers are custom built at SEAS in Moss to fit the historic building. The development has required close dialogue with the Directorate for Cultural Heritage.

Bjarne, David and me are responsible for the sound design, and our work has been ongoing for more than a year. It draws on Davids vast knowledge of whale song and communication and his massive collection of whale recordings. Many recordings are his own. Others originate from researchers and nature preservists from around the globe. In addition David and Bjarne have been on several expeditions to record more material.

We all share responsibility for composition and sound design. I have the main responsibility for programming and spatialisation. The speaker layout defies the standard sweet-spot approaches. So, last winter I developed an alternative solution, using triangulation. It serves similar needs to the DBAP algorithm, but offers more distinct spatial localisation. That has served us well.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. It is a privelege to work in such a space. We are not pernitted to share photos until the opening, so this post will have to make do with one from the park. The museum reopens October 14. I can’t wait!

Zotero reference manager



Zotero is a free and open source reference and bibliography manager, and seems a compelling alternative to BibDesk (support for Word) and EndNote (expensive).

2D Delaunay spatialisation in Max (finished)


2D Delaunay spatialisation in Max (finished) from Trond Lossius on Vimeo.

Here is an updated video demonstrating the 2D Delaunay triangulation approach to spatialisation for arbitrary speaker layouts.

I have continued development and now consider it done. The new addition over the last week is to track the convex hull. If source position moves outside the convex hull (the area covered by loudspeakers) only the two speakers at the nearest edge are used, and volume will roll off with increasing distance.

I’ll wrap this up as a package, so that it can be shared.

2D triangulation-based spatialisation approach


2D Delaunay spatialisation in Max from Trond Lossius on Vimeo.

This is a demo of some Java code I have been developing recently that offers an alternative spatialisation approach to DBAP for arbitrary 2D loudspeaker configurations. It is intended for installaiton setups with speakers distributed/scattered in ways that breaks with the common “sweet spot” assumption.

It uses Delaunay triangulation and distributes sound to the three speakers of the current triangle with constant amplitude. On the edges between triangles spatialisation folds down to standard constant intensity panning between the two speakers at the end points of the edge.

While DBAP uses all of the speakers all of the time, this approach uses only the three nearest speakers surrounding the source point.


The idea for this implementation came up in a conversation I had with Ville Pullki some years ago in Helsinki. The java code is based the cataLib by Jão Menezes. His code is again based on earlier code by Yoshihito Yagi.

Testing Aalto COMPASS ambisonics decoder


There has been quite a bit of development of higher-order ambisonics plugins in recent years. Today I have been testing the latest version of the COMPASS recorder that comes as part of the SPARTA plugins fro Aalto University. SPARTA is short for Coding and Multidirectional Parameterisation of Ambisonic Sound Scenes, a somewhat similar approach to the Harpex plugin.

Below is a binaural rendition of some tests I have done today.

I have a mono source (Butterfly by Grieg) encoded using Blue Ripple the Shoebox. Thjis encodes with distance clues and early reflextions emulations within a shoebox space. In addition I am using the BlueRipple Reverb, but with early reflextions disabled (as they are already taken care opf by Shoebox).

Decoding is done using COMPASS. I have set it up to work with 16 speakers according to the setup at my studio, and here I’m doing a virtual binaural endition of what it sounds like over those 16 speakers.

Please listen using headphones. I am continuously moving the sourcve around within the shoebox space as can e seen in the purple plugin interface at bottom left.


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