Kinetic Design (2018)

Kinetic Design. From Sound Spatialisation to Kinetic Music by Roland Cahen

(publication for CMMR 2019 proceedings)

Centre de Recherche en Design (CRD) – Ensci les Ateliers – École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay


This paper explores the process of kinetic music design. The first part of this paper presents the concept of kinetic music. The second part presents the sound design and compositional process of this type of music. The third part presents some excerpts from the composition logbook of a piece called Kinetic Design to illustrate the process of kinetic design as work in progress.

This paper focuses on the question of sound spatialisation from a theoretical, as well as an empirical, point of view, through the experience and experiments of an electroacoustic music composer trying to make the imaginary concept of kinetic music real. It is a form of research by design, or research by doing. The kinetic design project examined here is the first time an experimental approach of research by design has been applied to kinetic music

Keywords: sound spatialisation, kinetic design, kinetic music, electroacoustic music, sound design, design process, composition

  1. Introduction.

Kinetic music aims to produce sound choreography where the sound is diffused. Hence, it uses sound spatialisation in such a way that both the composer and the listener focus on kinetic aspects of sound, in opposition to using spatialisation only illustratively, or for rendering effects. In kinetic music, like theatre, dance or visual arts, each zone, position or direction can take on a musical value, a form of density that the sound space itself embodies. Kinetic music wishes to add a new form of expression and compositional methods to existing spatial music concepts and techniques. Sound spatialisation has already been the subject of abundant literature, the focus of this paper is to demonstrate the specificity of kinetic music. Of the literature on spatial sound, much has been written on the subject, such as generalities (principles, philosophy of space and music, history) numerous tools and techniques, analyses of musical intentions and abstractions about spatial figures, but very little has concentrated on the auditory experience, spatial sound aesthetics and none on the design process.

 (This article explores the hypothesis of kinetic music as a new process of composition and analyses its compositional process using my piece, Kinetic Design. The term design is used hereafter in relation to the creation process. The creative process explored here is ‘research by design’ or research by doing [6]. This form of research has a long legacy and is not novel in music. Indeed, Pierre Schaeffer developed his experimental approach by ‘doing and listening’ [1]. However, the kinetic design project examined in this paper is the first application of an experimental approach to kinetic music. By exploring the different motivations that drove the project, the successful and less successful experiments, and looking at extracts from my composition logbook, this paper tries to shed some light on some of the basic concepts and methods for kinetic sound design and composition. Kinetic Design was commissioned by INA-GRM, composed in octophony and performed on the acousmonium for the first time on January 20th 2019 at the MPAA Saint Germain (Paris).

  • The Characteristics of Kinetic Music

Kinetic Music aims to shape empty space with a choreography of sounds. However, a body of sounds would obviously be a kind of simulacrum[2], quite different from the human body or existing material objects. Composing and listening to kinetic music means focusing attention on spatial differences and similarities, as essential parts of kinetic musicality. Kinetic music adds new values to orchestration: spatial plasticity, incarnation and corporality, bringing an orchestralisation[3] of electroacoustic sounds. Kinetic music could be a breakthrough for electroacoustic/acousmatic music, anticipating new formal experiences and enabling new musical styles to emerge. However, to achieve these beautiful promises, the audibility of kinetic effects must be guaranteed.

  • Spatial Sound and Music Existing Work

There is a vast literature about sound spatialisation in the domain of music technology, electroacoustic music and perception. New rendering techniques procure nowadays a better sensation of sound incarnation thanks to new techniques such as WFS, High Order Ambisonics, dynamic pan and routing and room simulation. Simultaneously, spatialisation tools, editors such as the Ircam Spat, Panoramix, ICST Ambisonics, MaxMSP mc., and animation tools such Music Space, Acousmodules, Iosono Animix, GRM Tools (Spaces) and Iannix give most multichannel DAWs (digital audio workstations) and 3d real-time game editors (such as Unity3d) facilities for editing and automating sound source positions and motion. At the same time more international scientific, artistic and audio production centres are working on large multichannel sound devices to experiment with lines, arrays, matrix, domes and other sets of speakers. The existing literature about sound spatialisation describes perception, concepts, descriptors and techniques.[4] Object based formats allow to give sound sources 3D(xyz) theoretical positions, that can be rendered to any standard multichannel soundfile format and in any real space, independently of the number and positions of the speakers. The SSMN Spatialization Symbolic Music Notation is an abstract and geometry toolkit for writing spatialised sound movements on instrumental scores. Spatial interactions with physical gestures are also explored at CIRMMT [5] and at Ircam[6].

  • Audibility as a Premise

Most spatial music rests on so-called trajectories, easily visible on sound editors’ interfaces, but rarely audible in situ. However, spatial shapes, i.e. the compositional building block of kinetic music, should be clearly audible in order to be operational. Even if music can be heard when spatial sound shapes are not obvious, it is no longer kinetic music. What we could call kineticality, as a measurement of kinetic audibility, could be defined by how many audible elements of kinetic sound content or qualia[7] are lost in the spatial reduction process[8]. Unfortunately, musical audibility is more difficult to measure than individual sound-effect audibility. Spatial sound and music audibility can change a lot from one listening context to another and from one listener to another, for example because of the hotspot effect,[9] which some techniques, such as real source positioning[10] and linear panning[11] can reduce.[12]

Table 1. Easily Audible Kinetic Sounds/elements vs. Hardly Kinetic Ones

AudibleInaudible (or less audible)
Recorded/synthesised impulses/attacksSine waves or tonic sounds with poor spectral complexity
Various noise dynamic modulations (filtering, granularity…)Soft attacks are less precisely positioned
Tonal sound with rich complexitySpatial complexity blurs kinetic sense
Reduced spatial complexity up to 2/3 voicesComplex movements
  • Kinetic Design Qualia

Here is a short list of kinetic qualities experienced in Kinetic Design. It is difficult to separate concepts, sensations or experiences from sound shapes.

  • Immersion, position distribution, sound mobility.
  • Punctual sounds and impulses: position (referent / changing), position blur, motion by re-iterations, motion by elementary transition, referent positioning, accentuation.
  • Sustained sounds: motion by transitions (trajectory) between positions, spatial accentuation.
  • Movements: pointed, traces drawn through space, rhythm, oscillation, swing, bouncing, hold and release, etc.
  • Mass: extension / diversity, deployment/folding, spatial resolution.
  • Plasticity, incarnation, sound corporeality.
  • Explicit visual reference (visualisation) vs. implicit or metaphorical (materialisation, kinaesthetic shape, imagination).

In order to better understand where this typology comes from and how it has been established, section 3 will present some of the concepts of kinetic design qualia through the process of experimentation and composition, referring to the composition logbook of Kinetic Design.

  • Visual Imagery

Designing geometrical patterns of sounds, such as a sound trajectory, is not sufficient to produce kinetic sensation, but our imagination seems nevertheless to shape our representation of kinetic sounds. On the one hand, imagining these spatial sound shapes, our natural inclination is to project a visual grid on the auditory perception and to try to draw sound in space. However, by doing this, we might risk distracting the listener from the auditory experience. The act of hearing a sound should be sufficient in itself, and it is necessary to keep it at a distance from visual design, or tools for visualisation, so as to privilege audibility, i.e. auditory experience and sensation. On the other hand, “kinetic sound design” refers to visual imagery. Some visual metaphors are realistic and obvious, such as the big swing, or the little soldiers (Table 2) marching around the listener], others are more abstract, such as diversity variations or positional contrapuntal impulses (Table 2 Dots & Lines). This is why kinetic sound design belongs to the discipline of design, since sound shapes emerge from the sound itself referring to our spatial representation of the world, which is mostly visual.

In this article the term design is also used in relation to the creation process which this article presents through a “research by design’ approach.

  • Composition Device, Design Process and Workflow

A description of a kinetic design and compositional process follows. This enquiry encompasses theoretical and then applied research. Since section 4 contains a presentation of my experience and methods of kinetic design composition, as a concrete illustration of this process, an outline of the composition follows in order to help the reader situate the different sections of Kinetic Design discussed below. The workflow depicted below is only one among others, but it focuses on i) kinetic audibility and ii) spatial composition and spatial authoring possibilities at every stage of the compositional process from its conception to performance.

Fig. 1. This schematic offers an overview on the design / compositional process. The conception phase consists of imagining audio kinetic ideas and making sound sketches or Max models for experimenting with them. Only elements with kinetic musicality and audibility are kept for composition. Otherwise ideas are improved or abandoned. This evaluation, which also happens at further stages, is the condition of existence of kinetic music. Formalisation is the proper compositional part of the project, where sound elements are performed, recorded and organized into a music composition. During this part of the process, it is essential to facilitate modifying the sound elements.

  • Ideation

Planning the kinetics from the very beginning of a composition project enables us to put movement at the heart of a project, whether the kinetic plan concerns sound design or the whole composition. Adding spatialisation once the whole composition is finished, or even once sound elements are recorded, is generally too late to achieve kinetic creation consistency. Design ideation techniques exist and flourish in design thinking literature. Some can partly be applied to art creation as well as functional design. Here are two complementary methods which can be used to sonagine[13] kinetic sound objects:

i) An inductive method which starts from an imaginary metaphor. For example, “Swings” (see Table 2.) inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s the pit and the pendulum, imagining a giant pendulum, whistling by passing near with trajectory. Here the idea is typically physical or visual.

ii) An experimental derivational process which imagines an abstract tool for moving any sound source materials. By experimenting with various sound sources and perfusing the tool, it is possible to produce lots of musical materials, out of which the most interesting can be kept for creating musical sequences.

Ideas can sometimes reveal themselves as being well sonaginated, but also other times less so because they are totally abstract and unrealistic, too visually oriented or inappropriate. In reality these two methods are often used successively or combined.

  • Experimentation and Sound Production in Max MSP Custom Octophonic Tools

How can a sound idea like “Swings” (Table 2) be rendered? How about synchronising between variations of timbre, position, spectral mass and spatial spread/diversity? DAWs environments are quite rigid, inconvenient for creating sounds, especially with dynamic parameters’ variation when including spatialisation. Circumventing the complexity and haziness of channel management can easily be time consuming. Therefore, it is more efficient to develop fast MaxMSP sketches for each idea. These procedural models can also be improved during the experimental phase until they reach a sufficient precision to fulfil functional and expressive requests.

Two examples are described here:

  • OctoLine allows to control a set of parameter’s variations for a single stream, using break point functions to modify dynamically the following: volume, position, a filter cut-off frequency, spread and spatial diversity.[14] Octoline therefore produces variations in spatial extension. It uses mostly noise or simple generators the instances of which can be easily differentiated.
  • KDvector launches polyphonic spatialised sound vectors triggered by MIDi notes. Time dynamic parameters or parametric vectors can be set before launching them, such as sound type volume curve, position curve, filter cut-off frequency, filter quality and spread. Diversity is ensured by multiplying vectors units.
    • Recording Sound Elements

During the process of developing MAXMSP patches and producing kinetic shapes, sequences of octophonic sound are recorded. Each sequence is performed live or automatized to produce the desired kinetic sound. All elements are recorded in multichannel with their spatialisation embedded and will be manipulated later on in multichannel.

  • Kineticality Evaluation of Sound Elements

Before going further in the composition kineticality[15]is evaluated to validate sounds the kinetic expressivity of which are audible and thus to exclude those that are not[16]. A proper evaluation would require a large listener panel, but a simple listening evaluation is better than nothing. Therefore, waiting a few days before re-listening helps to step back and allows us to forget the original perception. François Bayle use to say “il faut faire fonctionner l’oubli [17], in order to recover primary unbiased musical sensation. Such a subjective evaluation would not satisfy scientific evaluation criteria[18] but seems good enough for creating music for which the main evaluation is the final performance.

  • Editing and Assembling Pre-recorded Octophonic Elements in a Multichannel DAW[19] to Compose Musical Sequences.

Once sound elements are recorded and their kineticality validated, a selection of sequences or parts of them are imported in the DAW. This is where the main composition is achieved. It is important that DAWs allow the following features:

  • Accept mono, stereo and multichannel audiofiles
  • Edition of multichannel tracks: splitting, editing and merging. This essential feature, which allows to modify easily and precisely previously spatialised sound elements, does not exist as such in most DAWs.
    • Splitting for edition: easy switch from grouped tracks to individual tracks
    • Easy edition of the individual tracks
    • Merging edited elements: easy backwards switch from individual tracks to grouped tracks after edition
  • Multichannel effects and in/out routing for multichannel effects
  • In place offline multichannel effects

In Avid Pro Tools HD for example, it is easy to move multitrack clips to n mono tracks and to edit individual tracks, but in order to bring back the elements to a multitrack clip after being edited, the group must be consolidated and then moved back to its original multitrack.

Fig. 2. Example of Kinetic Design Pro Tools HD Cession with kinetic multitrack elements (octophonic tracks) and mono elements in mono tracks (on top tracks)

In other professional environments, such as Steinberg Nuendo, it is possible to route any kind of track to a High Order Ambisonic bus and monitor the rendering on any number of channel outputs. But a splitting and merging process is not available unless whole tracks are duplicated for splitting again when merging.

  • Performance: on Groups of n Speakers and Effects on an Ensemble of Speakers (Acousmonium, Sound Dome or any Other Concert Diffusion Device)

In order to obtain the best possible kinetic perception in diffusion for all the audience, a few criteria should be taken into account:

  • The acoustic of the venue should be non-resonant: muffled venues, studios or open air are preferable to empty resonant rooms or churches.
  • Speakers are organised by groups of n, corresponding to the number of channels in the music or its master soundfile e.g. 8 channels => one or several groups of 8 speakers.
  • Listeners are not too near the next speaker. A distance of a few meters allows to reduce the blinding effect[20]

Diffusion Setup

The octophonic (8.0) octal diffusion format[21], which is an interesting work format because it is efficient and accessible as lots of multichannel devices work by 8, can be used. Track numbering from back left to back right allows i) to avoid an automation break in front of the listener ii) to switch and transit easily from a circular to a linear front screen distribution[22].

Fig. 3. Octal or circular 8.0 distribution allowing: 1- a geographic allocation corresponding to spatial intuition 2 – the possibility to switch easily from circular to linear diffusion 3 -rejects automation hedges values in the back (instead of in the front in standard formats) 4 – a simple compatibility with 7.1 SDDS standard format: L, Lc, C, Rc, R, Ls, Rs, LFE.

Fig. 4. Circular-linear transitions in performance

  • Excerpts of Kinetic Design Composition Logbook
  • Table 2. Kinetic Design is composed of 12 chained movements. (This table is presented here to simplify references)
10:09Stretching – Extension1 ‘ 45″
21:54Swings2 ‘ 21″
34:15Dots & Lines3 ‘ 10″
47:25Pulsed2 ‘ 54 “
510:19Untied – Incises2 ‘ 35 “
612:54March55 “
713:49OtoGliss_11 ‘ 26 “
815:15Little Soldiers4 ‘ 19 “
919:34Wave breathing1 ‘ 06 “
1020:40OtoGliss_21 ‘ 47 “
1122:27Laché2 ‘ 14 “
1224:41Final Balancé1 ‘ 43 “

Thursday 19th July 2018

I am in the process of finishing the first part of my research to create Kinetic Design. My original intention was to produce a composition, or “ballet” made up of “lines” and “dots”:

  • Lines between speakers: elementary trajectories, vectors or curves.
  • Dots or punctual elements on each one of the speakers themselves, either to start and end the musical lines, to create strong accents, impulses in the music, points of support or clicking effects.

Although the idea works, the result does not fit with what I imagined (or more accurately sonagined). To maximise spatial precision, I choose to work with two categories of sounds: impulses and sustained noise. I will refer to these figures as impulse and sustained noise spatial vector[23] (or NoiseVect).

My NoiseVect lack musicality, quickly becoming boring to the ear, almost like a dancer stretching her arms back and forth. Worse, they do not validate the idea of a line, segment or trace, especially when they are slow. Faster motion and shorter swishes, such as mechanical pistons or whip sounds give a better idea of a directional movement. But I could not find a way of making them sound like lines starting from a position and finishing on another. And if we can hear whipping sounds crossing through space, the sounds also carry a dramatic and ridiculous musical connotation. It even seems that line/trace impression are inversely proportional to spatial precision. In other words, the more accurate a position, the more noise the sound must carry. However, noise is perceived as large and blurred and not as a line. On the contrary, sustained sounds, reduced in mass (FN), such as pure tones, which better suggest lines, can hardly be heard at a precise position in space. This leads me to having to choose between Scylla and Charybdis.

Fig. 5. Impression of a trace thinness being inversely proportional to spatial resolution.

Impulses placed at a precise position on one single speaker (track) are situated well in their position, but neither give the idea of points. They sound rather like events marked in time and space. When an impulse is attached to a NoiseVect, at the begining or end, it sometimes appears grouped together, sometimes not[24]. But even when impulses and NoiseVect merge together in time and timbre, impulses are not perceived as being beginning and ending positions of a NoiseVect, since the positions do not seem to merge. Spatial perception thus seems to keep separate from the sound stream. Further research could be done on merging spatial and sound content perceptions. Fortunately, as soon as rhythm and musicality inhabit these sounds, I enter as a listener into an astonishing and new sound universe. Like a sorcerer’s apprentice, I feel incapable of understanding exactly what I manipulate. I can hear some effects, artefacts, bursts, spreads, folding and unfolding, but I cannot manage any of these elements precisely. While writing this, I am reminded of Pierre Schaeffer, whose journal de la musique concrete [10] has been an inspiration for me.

Monday 27th August

Capping/unplugging effect: difficult to achieve with simple clicks, try breaking an infra-bass hold sound with a strong distributed click. Try curtain effects from mass of scattered grains passing from one side to the other opening and closing a background.

  • MAKE SILENCE, rarefy, nuance, intensify differences.

Mobility takes its value only in contrast with stationary moments. Look for motion variation control.

  • For the swings: hold the balance in a position creating tension, then release. Try Ping-Pong rhythms on the origin and the destination of the pendulum (Table 2).

Fig. 6. Transitions (Left) Rear swing: transition from 8 to 1 happens in the middle of the movement – (Right) Two identical iterative sounds in opposite direction, starting from the rear, crossing forward and ending at the back gives this amusing picture (1 to 8 + 8 to 1)

Note that the intersection of the two iterative sound movements is not in the centre but on channel 4. If the crossing happened in the middle, the sound would be played on speakers 4 and 5 with a bad spatial focus and would reduce the spatial resolution to only 7 points. With 8 channels this kind of asymmetry is inevitable, but on the other hand, odd numbers of channels would bring other asymmetries, e.g. rhythmical ones. Twelve channels would be a very good working module but unfortunately not standard and more expensive.

Tuesday 28th August

The GRM studio-A is comfortable and beautifully equipped[25]. The acoustics are excellent, the sound awesome, the computer powerful. A shelter from the outside world in a hidden basement, where there are no distractions. Perfect!

I have tried many musical concepts, recording hours of octophonic sequences using different models: plots, whips, swings, spatial loops, variation of position, diversity, polyphony and spatial amplitude, with various sound materials: dynamically filtered white noise, various wave generators and samples. On the whole there are some remarkable figures, but I am struggling. Once these sound movements are produced, it is difficult to assemble them. I tend to regress, replaying musical approaches of the late 70’s called “séquence jeu”, where the same set of gestural sounds are repeated with pattern variations, quickly becoming monotonous. Trying other formal approaches, I combine different parts of the composition as if they were sediments, layers of a landscape, as if each one of the parts of the work were stacked on top of one another. I play with transitions, creating geological faults in the landscape, planes and protrusions, leaving glimpses into the future or flashbacks into the past.

I realize that my sampled loops are spatially shifting because of a scheduling drift between the signal and data, which I then correct. At last, each sound element in a sample or loop now plays in sync and always comes through on the right speaker allowing me to make kinetic rhythms. I can also precisely control the position of each component.

I have created my own instruments with Max, which gives me a lot of possibilities, but the difficulty with Max is that I develop and add new features all the time, and the patches are never stabilized. Each time I try to add a new feature to the patch, new bugs appear, and I need to debug from time to time. Moreover, it is impossible to memorize the best presets because after each change the settings previously memorized become obsolete. Consequently, I record audio at each step and use Max “pattr” presets only as setting-up facilities.

Kinetic masking effect and kinetic pattern segregation – the masking effect[26] acts at the spatial level. It is possible to play on the contrast of high-pitched moving sounds mixed with sustained bass sounds, or on close planes in relation to more distant planes. But as soon as two simultaneous movements or positions are exceeded, independent movements become quite difficult to hear, except with very different or complementary or eccentric sounds. Hence the use of very eccentric registers, e.g. the infra-bass only slightly disturb the spatial perception of other sounds. Maximising temporal, spectral, dynamic and of course spatial differences helps to separate the patterns.

Playing with the diversity parameter – diversified sound masses, i.e. composed of 8 independent sound sources, but of the same nature (e. g. 8 different white noises on each track versus the same white noise on the 8 tracks), allow me to stabilize the movements of sounds and give our ears a rest. They create a sensation of breadth and richness, like open-air soundscapes.

MAKE CLEARER – spatial complexity and diversity must be undressed, flattened or lightened, the movements should stop. More static and monophonic moments would reinforce the spatialised ones. Should I do this in the composition or during the performance? Both probably. Unfortunately, the possibilities to reduce complexity without losing content during the performance are limited.

Thursday 27th December

I am at the end of the project. The composition is more Baroque and more dramatic than originally expected. Many bass and infra-bass sounds, clinging clicks and stridencies provoking inner ear interferences. Treble strident sounds are heard as they saturate the ear itself. Strange feeling, It seems as if the sound was produced by the ear itself, often mixed up with provoked otoacoustic emission, I do not think they are the same phenomenon. They happen when treble sine which are distributed in frequencies and space and are modulated slowly, typically between 1 and 4 kHz. At the end of listening, the ear is physically tired, yet the listener has travelled to unusual places and sensations.

I believe I have succeeded in my challenge to create kinetic music, where spatialisation plays a central role, constitutive of the musicality. There is a lot of imagination and variety in kinetic configurations allowing new sounds and musicality to emerge. There is hopefully more to explore in order to create music with new sounds, finding their own expressiveness. There is also humor in there, like the grotesque walk of the little soldiers, both burlesque and tragic, ridiculous and terrifying at the same time.

It is difficult to find the right balance between movement and immobility. Like watching a dancer on stage, and appreciating the choreography, it is easier if the stage and the spectator do not move too much themselves. Here there are sometimes too many unnecessary swirls, but I have a hard time deciding which ones to cut in order to stop the movement in the right place, moment and positions. Two approaches are possible: either :- i) starting from fixed sounds and building the movement at the time of the compositional process, which means adding a disconnected movement on top of an existing playing sample ii) or pre-constructing the movement inside the sound materials themselves and then reducing or fixing them afterwards, with the inconvenience that the movement is fixed and attached to the sound. I mostly used the second method.

I have moved on from the idea that sounds have to be noisy or contain noisy attacks to be precisely positioned, while tonic and sustained sounds are difficult to locate. That is still true, but intermediaries also work. It is an important compositional choice that the positions be clear and precise for some sounds, less for others. Trajectories require a fairly high spatial precision, unless listeners simply feel that spatialisation has changed, but without perceiving kinetic qualia. Spectral, temporal, pattern complementarity is also a major tool for distinguishing kinetic qualia. For example, impulses are very easily positioned on top of sustained sounds and seem to appear at the forefront. This complementarity is a key to access musical complexity.

Kinetic design is a composition that must be listened loud enough but not to the point of needing ear protectors. Physiologically speaking, it is very demanding for the listener’s ears. At the end of listening to it, listeners may start to feel this composition has made them work in various unusual registers but without pain or hearing fatigue.

  • Conclusion

This design process has proved efficient in a number of ways. A large part of the audience who listened to Kinetic Design said they had a singular experience of spatialisation. For the first time, they could really hear the movement of the sound. The spatialisation was effective and impressive. They also said that it was a show of sound, the plasticity of the sound was expressive and constituted a novel listening experience. However, does this mean that there is a new musicality, a kinetic music, a new genre in music? The answer is more nuanced. Some other composers working in the same field who listened to the performance were quite critical and said that the music did move but they could not feel any particular significance in the movement, nor a specific kinetic musicality. Any evaluation from listeners’ experience is only representative of a sample; it is bound to be subjective and must therefore be relativised and treated with caution. The question whether kinetic music can be developed into a new expressive genre or is only a fictive construction to push spatialized expressivity forward to its limits, still remains of interest and needs to be explored further with more experimentation, applied research and experimental creation. New tools and design processes also may help to improve kinetic music experience.


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[1] Musical research approach by Schaeffer [11]

[2] Simulacrum refers to representation in ancient Greek literature and philosophy. This term was also used in XX century by Schaeffer [12]

[3] A neologism meaning making something orchestral which was not originally.

[4] Blauert, Bregmann, Rumsey, Jot, Warusfel, Pachet/Delerue, Cadoz/Luciani, Brümmer, Duchenne, Pottier, Vandegorne, Schumacher, Schacher, Baalman, Orlarey etc.

[5] Schumacher with OMPrisma lib for open music

[6] Bevilaqua, Schnell, Lambert CoSiMa project.

[7] See the kinetic music qualia below.

[8] The reduction process consists of downmixing or converting multichannel sounds to stereo or mono.

[9] Only listeners placed in the hotspot position can hear the spatial effects properly, e.g. equidistant from the surrounding speakers.

[10] Real source positioning, as opposed to virtual positioning, techniques consist in placing each sound element on only one track / speaker. It has been used since the very beginning of spatialisation (multiple mono) and considered theoretically as a spatial compositional approach by various artists such as Pierre Boeswillwald in Octophonie Delta P (1991-94) with the concept of “octuor” or Benjamin Thigpen [13].

[11] Linear panning stands for panning between two next in line speakers, works also for a circle where the azimuth controls the position.

[12] The necessity to listen to spatialised sounds from a small point in the center of the device. The hotspot effect is more important when using virtual source positions than with real source positions.

[13] Sonagination is a neologism invented by sound designers to draw a distinction between visual imagination and auditory imagination.

[14] Spatial diversity is the desynchronization, or the originality, of the different voices. It has been used by Charles Verron [14] in his PhD thesis to simulate natural immersive sounds such as rain. Diversity equals 0 when 8 sound voices are mixed together and played on one or more speakers according to the spread value. Diversity equals 1 when a different sound voice plays on each speaker. Between 0 and 1, positions spacing of 8 the sound voices vary continuously.

[15] See Kinetic audibility §2.2, above.

[16] Nevertheless, all the sounds of a kinetic music are not necessarily kinetic.

[17] ‘One should use the function of forgeting’ (my translation).

[18] It should be tested by non-expert listeners using proper perceptive evaluation methods.

[19] DAW is an abbreviation of Digital Audio Workstation.

[20] Blinding effect in electroacoustic concerts happens when as a listener you mostly hear the speaker next to you.

[21] 8.0 is a common format but not a market standard, but it is compatible with 7.1 SDDS.

[22] Some parts of the music composition would avoid 1/8 transitions in order to be performed on a linear speaker array instead of a circular one. During performance, it is possible to avoid jumps when swapping from a circular to line, or line to circular, diffusion device by choosing the nearest speakers to ensure continuity e.g. 4-5. (Fig. 6.).

[23] Vectors are elementary directional trajectories going from one speaker to another.

[24] As established by Albert Bregman’s grouping principles [4].

[25] The studio is equipped with 8 Genelec 8250 monitors placed around the central working position.

[26] Auditory masking effect occurs when the perception of A is affected by the presence of sound B. It also concerns simultaneity, frequency, spectrum and directional masking

Kinetic Design – Roland Cahen – Octophonie – 25’ – Création INA-GRM 2018
Étude concertante de musique cinétique.
Un corps mobile dématérialisé, multiple, sans contour, sans référence au corps humain.
A la recherche d’une musique plastique, sans référence visuelle.
Depuis le début des années 80, à la recherche d’une musicalité propre à la spatialisation sonore, j’explore les relations du son avec l’espace à travers différentes formes. Ces recherches m’ont amené à réaliser des ouvrages électroacoustiques dans les domaines de la navigation sonore, de la muséographie, de la conception de dispositifs, du design sonore et de la musique de concert. Mes recherches et mon enseignement portent également sur ces questions.
Mon rêve de musique cinétique est de produire des ballets de sons dans l’espace de diffusion sonore. Mais en imaginant cela, je projette malgré moi un schème visuel sur une perception auditive qui éloigne de l’expérience recherchée. Pourtant, l’oreille est bien sensible à des phénomènes sonores spatialisés qui lui apportent des indices de provenance, des sensations d’étendue, de singularité ou de diversité. A un certain moment, l’espace sonore semble même prendre corps, chaque zone, position, direction acquiert une épaisseur et prend forme.
Comment ‘faire musique’ de ces sensations ? Faut il les collectionner ces effets et les classer selon des catégories perçues, comme Pierre Schaeffer, faut-il au contraire spéculer sur la forme au risque de prendre les concepts pour la réalité ressentie ? Comme la musique joue des relations de ressemblance et de différence entre les sons, la musique cinétique entend faire musique des relations spatiales entre les sons. La plupart des recherches sonores dans le domaine de la spatialisation et du son 3D tombent dans le travers d’assimiler le son à un objet visuel ou graphique ; et in-fine échouent à produire l’effet attendu, autrement dit ne parviennent pas à tirer parti des particularités de l’audition spatiale pour en faire musique. D’où mon exploration néo-constructiviste partant du ressenti.
Malgré tout, les sons cinétiques, ces fantômes tangibles, ces simulacres de corps mobiles sont fragiles. Selon le dispositif d’écoute, l’interprétation et l’intention d’entendre, les effets sont atténués ou renforcés. On aimerait bien disposer d’un étalon musical valable quel que soit le contexte. L’approche habituelle postule donc la primauté de la position absolue des sources sonores virtuelles dans l’espace. Néanmoins, peu convaincu de la pertinence de cette approche, je préfère une méthode à ma portée, utilisant le format octophonique de la même manière que la musique électroacoustique a traité la stéréophonie. Ainsi je compose mes éléments sonores intrinsèquement animés, puis les assemble sur un dispositif de 8 enceintes. Enfin au concert, ces 8 pistes sont remises en forme dans l’espace réel sur un dispositif adapté à la salle et contrôlées à la console. In fine, la position absolue des sons importe moins que leurs relations dans l’espace.
Le projet adopte une approche design en déployant des propositions formelles au service de l’expérience musicale cinétique.
Dimanche 20 Janvier 2019 à 18h
à la MPAA (Auditorium du Marché Saint Germain)
4 Rue Félibien, 75006 Paris
Entrée libre sur inscription : / 01 85 53 02 10
Concert collectif au cours duquel seront également jouées les œuvres suivantes :
  • Catherine BIR « La prière engloutie »
  • Raphaël MOUTERDE « tant que tu ne me tues pas » Création, commande INA GRM
  • Francisco MEIRINO « A New Instability » Création, commande INA GRM
  • Yôko HIGASHI & Lionel MARCHETTI « LES OISEAUX » Création, commande INA GRM