I was recently selected for two composer residencies in Sweden, first at Elektronmusik Studion (EMS), Stockholm (June 2023), and then at Studio Alpha, Visby International Centre for Composers (VICC), Visby, Sweden (September 2023). Both studios feature immersive multichannel surround sound systems of extremely high quality, enabling me to explore in-depth the compositional possibilities of spatial audio.
During these residencies I was able to focus on the use of ambisonic sound. Ambisonic sound is used in many areas of the creative industries, such as music and sound recording, music creation, cinema and TV sound design, and game audio. The format allows for spatial audio ‘environments’ to be created within a virtual listening space using computer software, positioning and moving individual sounds around the listening area. Most significantly, this spatial audio can then be decoded for any playback system – from binaural for earbuds, conventional stereo, and on to immersive audio systems of 64 loudspeakers or more, yet always retaining the composed spatial image.
This scalability of ambisonic sound makes it extremely flexible when presenting immersive audio work in different venues of different sizes, and with different loudspeaker layouts. At EMS, I was able to work using their 15.1 Genelec sound system, which features an array of ceiling loudspeakers, as shown in the photo.
These residencies gave me fantastic opportunities to commence composing new electroacoustic work whilst exploring the ambisonic technique in-depth, using a variety of software tools in different music studio environments.