Current Master’s Research Projects

Research is a systematic investigation of some aspect of thought or reality which leads to transferable knowledge. In artistic research, this knowledge, embedded in compositional or performative work, may be expressed through diverse media, including but not confined to written text.

Clara de Asís Geraldia Gallardo (1st-year master’s)

Sound presences: space, materiality, and states of being

There is something ungraspable in the experience of remembrance. When recalling a memory spontaneously, multiple temporalities seem to align, opening up a particular region that closes itself away as soon as we attempt to get a hold of it. 

The precise conditions that might trigger one’s memories are as countless as the memories themselves, but their mechanism has been widely associated with space across the centuries. Material and spatial configurations can induce particular levels of attention, and make distinct specific elements within a frame. Space can be understood in multiple ways. When considered from an acoustic standpoint, space is a continuum where sound waves spread. Moreover, space is also a perceptual product drawn from the relations between elements in a whole.

In my research, I will explore forms of sound agency that reveal the relation between the production of space, material conditions, and regions of subjectivity, where sound is understood as a presence in a perceptual space that can be discerned by tactics of attention. I will focus on filter and resonance as both conceptual and perceptible premises to examine specific materialities and relational possibilities of sounding matter, and implement those premises in a composition. Ultimately, my purpose is to find meaningful ways to link space, materiality, and modalities of subjectivity in sound-based practices and composition, thereby creating the opportunity to treat this interrelation as a form-bearing element.

Flurina Mia Häberli (1st-year master’s)

The soundscapes of underwater anthropogenic noise pollution as foundation for compositions and live performances

Noise pollution in our environment on land is known, understood, and abated through applicable existing ordinances. Unfortunately, this is not the case with respect to our underwater environment. The act of regulating anthropogenic noise pollution in the oceans is much more difficult due to the physical propagation of underwater sound. Human-made underwater sounds originate from many sources, including shipping, seismatic activities from oil and gas exploration, military activities, pile driving during construction of offshore windfarms, and deep-sea mining. Marine mammals use hearing as primary sense to detect predators or prey, orientation and to communicate with cospecies. There is an overlap in the frequency range in which marine life can hear/produce sound and anthropogenic sound; as a consequence, marine life gets interrupted. The increasing noise level can negatively affect marine life and their ecosystems in complex ways, including through acute, chronic, and cumulative effects.

This research project will deal with the soundscape of underwater anthropogenic noise pollution as a foundation for compositions and live performances. By exploring ways to work with this sound material and incorporate it into my practice, I aim to create more awareness about noise pollution. How does the increasing anthropogenic noise pollution influence the biggest ecosystem of our world, the oceans? What are the possibilities to decrease anthropogenic noise? Can decreasing noise levels help counteract the ongoing species extinction due to climate crisis? How can I put those questions and facts into artistic musical work?

The theoretical part of my master’s thesis is subdivided into four topics: research of hydrosphere acoustics, composition techniques, field recordings, and research of different types of hydrophones. For example, regarding composition techniques: how can I include data of ocean noise maps in a composition or use it as a tool to create structures for following pieces? The practical part of my master‘s project is subdivided into five topics: collecting, recording, recreating, composing, and performing.

Nicolás Kliwadenko (1st-year master’s)

Formalised Interactions as Musical Agents

A systemic approach to improvisation and composition involves considering the interconnections and interdependencies among various musical elements. The emphasis is on prioritising interactions over prescribing precise sound presentations. This approach offers a way to evaluate the composition’s resilience in its most radical aspects while allowing for unforeseen musical situations that challenge initial definitions. In improvisation, it ensures that musicians maintain their creative freedom while simultaneously reducing musical redundancy and promoting environments conducive to exploratory musical expressions.

The primary aim of this research project is to create scores and electronic musical pieces primarily based on a series of interaction definitions. To achieve this goal, improvisational scores will be used, striking a balance between localised decisions tailored to specific contexts and predetermined structural elements. These improvisational scores will form the basis for analysing and subsequently formalising specific characteristics inherent in the interactions between musicians and their environment. It is hoped that by establishing measurable definitions for these decisions in their respective contexts, it will facilitate an exploration of the consequences that arise from systematic use during the composition process.

One aspect of this project involves exploring compositional strategies inspired by information theory in search of radical organisational musical behaviours. Through the use of limited interaction rules, concise micro-compositions can be generated, potentially serving as scores for chamber ensembles, instructions for improvising musicians, or computer-generated sound fragments. When integrated into a larger musical piece, the resulting work is expected to embody distinctive characteristics not found within the individual micro-compositions.

Agita Reke (1st-year master’s)

New forms of instructing the musician during live performance 

My research project aims to contribute to the broader discourse surrounding the intersection of composition and live performance in the electroacoustic music field. I want to explore communication between the composer and musician during a live performance by creating a personalized system to instruct a musician. My aim is to find an alternative method for the score. I would like to research new forms of instructions for a musician, which can include light, specific sound materials, or other materials, that are not written on paper. 

Expressing musical ideas in a score and translating them to a musician can be challenging in terms of reaching the composer’s expectations. It’s important for me that a musician can feel free on the stage, focusing on music and less on score material, but at the same time, I have certain expectations and requirements that need to be fulfilled. Real-time instructions could be a link between those two aspects. For instance, flow is taken from improvised music, but the structural decisions from the compositional aspect. My research questions would be: how music could be shaped by changing the way of instructing musicians? How would that influence the music flow? 

Because of my intuitive nature, I would prefer a system that allows me to make these decisions live. For example, I would like to send a musician particular signals during the performance, specific rhythmical patterns, or triggers, without fixing those materials in a perfect timing in score. The outcome will be to explore these innovative approaches to instruction while maintaining my style, expression, and structural thinking, and finally to perform by processing and creating sound events in real time. 

Otis Thomet (1st-year master’s)

A non-peripheral musical body: Embodied musical knowledge in electroacoustic improvisation

“musical improvisation is ineluctably embodied; its creative and political force manifest through sounds and gestures that are traces of experience at once relational and contextual” (Gillian Siddal and Ellen Waterman, Negotiated moments improvisation, sound and subjectivity).

Inviting an understanding of the body as an emergent relational happening, this research will be guided by the sensing and improvising body. Based on this notion I want to pose the questions:
Is the body and the way we iterate these traces, gestures, and repertoires an archive of engaging with sound?
How does this archive structure our musical decision-making?
What are methods to complicate, disrupt, and utilise this archive in a musically meaningful manner?

A starting point for this inquiry will be a series of workshops that I facilitated titled “sonic acts of noticing.” Attempting to liberate listening and sounding from the indoors and its acoustic and cultural conventions, these workshops took place in contrasting environments such as a dense forest and the relatively open Furka-Pass above the tree line. Specialised microphones and listening stations provided amplified access to sonic occurrences in the given environment. This setup also served as an amplification/attention feedback loop between the participants themselves and the surroundings. Guided by listening scores, the participants were invited to tune into registers of simultaneity, plurality, and polyphony and to utilise their voice to direct attention to, amplify, mimic, sound out, and enter a sonic correspondence with each other and the nature present.

Using the recordings of these workshops as a oral-electronic score that activates amplification/attention feedback loops mimicking the workshops setups in ways that bring forward the emergent behavioural properties of improvising subjects, and working with sound as a physical phenomenon that registers in our bodies “in ways that confound the assumed discreteness of exterior and interior space,” as Julie Dawn Smith writes in Diva Dogs: Sounding Women Improvising, as well as acknowledging the body’s presence as necessity and part of the production circuits of electroacoustic music, I will extend the idea of a relational sensorimotor loop between the body and the contextual into the studio to research the areas of knowledge afforded by human embodiment as well as cultural and historic constraints that are specific to improvising in an electro-acoustic setting.

Cansu Ülker (1st-year master’s)

States, Events, Transformations: A Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Approach to Acousmatic Composition

The concept of transformations is fundamental to understanding and analyzing the behavior of dynamic systems over time. Ecosystems, chemical reactions, and human evolution all bear this dynamicity and change in between states of existence. Dynamical nonlinear systems theory is a framework that is commonly applied to complex systems to understand and observe the changes occurring in these states over time, which can be interpreted as a continuous sequence of transformations. Change occurs as the product of multileveled interactions between the various elements constituting these systems. 

The transformation of sound has been a central method and practice in the composition of electronic music. It has been used as a mere method to generate a vast number of variations from a starting source or as an approach to macrocomposition based on the timbral development from one sound texture to another. Certainly, transformations cannot act alone in the process that leads to the compositional outcome. The network of interrelations between sound material, transformation processes, and interaction of the composer with this system constitute the evolution of the whole and its musical product. The dynamic nature of this network causes the compositional process to become a living being which is becoming.

This is a practice-led research project that aims to create a compositional framework and a computer program for acousmatic music by utilizing transformations in nonlinear dynamic systems as an inspiration and a model for discovering new possibilities in micro/macrocompositional processes. It will implement a compositional system consisting of a limited set of sound material and their transformations from one state to another. The states of sound will be analyzed, transformed, and mapped to control the behavior of the system on different operating levels. The temporal evolution of the system behavior will be inspected in terms of stability, pattern formation, bifurcations, and chaos. The output of the research will be a framework based on these ideas for the composition of computer music, a computer system that implements this approach, and fixed media pieces inspired by the research.

Kacper Werkowicz (1st-year master’s)

Digital Synthesis Genealogies

Digital sound synthesis and its historical evolution stand as the central focus of this research. It aims to trace the genealogy of various digital sound synthesis technologies from their nascent stages in research laboratories to their current ubiquity. Historically and contemporarily, these technologies have had a profound impact on how sound is conceptualised, listened to, and created. A thorough understanding of these paradigm shifts can only be achieved when considering them in close relation with the technologies they stem from, calling for a unique combination of technological expertise with a critical cultural approach.

With this in mind, a mixed methodology is proposed, beginning with individual digital synthesis methods (both historical and contemporary) and exploring the circumstances of their invention, followed by a detailed study of their technical implementations. Afterwards, an attempt will be made to delineate the technological, historical, and cultural relationships between said methods, along with their possible broader categorisation and further impacts within music technology, culture, critical theory, and ontology. This part of the research aims not only to build upon technical resources, but also to delve into works of sound philosophy and journalism, music communities, and internet culture.

Such inquiry should result in a comprehensive body of cross-disciplinary knowledge, providing new avenues to critically engage and experiment with digital synthesis, informed by its past and ongoing influence on cultural production and perception of sound. It may also encourage an interest in the revival and re-integration of obscure or less commercially utilised technologies, and deepen understanding of how digital sound has been conceptualised across different times and cultural contexts. By engaging with diverse sources and communities, this research aims to enrich the discourse surrounding digital sound synthesis, broadening how it can be understood and engaged with in the future.

Hilde Wollenstein (1st-year master’s)

More Real: Expressions of realism through music. 

Everything in day to day, social life can be said to have become “cultural”. Through decades of capitalist logic, culture left its once upon a time more autonomous sphere and expanded throughout the social realm. As a consequence, music does not live a ghostly and intangible existence above the practical world either. Rather, people’s daily life is full of music, and vice versa; music is full of daily life. It is a medium affected by the reality of economic value and state power to practices, and the structure of the psyche itself. However, music can also be defined phenomenologically; as a state of listening to sound. What is heard can be perceived unrelated from its context, as something non-descriptive of daily life or the construction of reality, even as unconditional, potentially. By considering music’s abstract qualities as well as socio-cultural dimension, I intend to research how music negotiates with expressions — or genres — of realism in a creative, artistic and theoretical manifestation, drawing inspiration from definitions used in cinema studies. The presence of music in daily life and the subject of reality represented in musical form will be the material for multi-channel compositions and a written research.

Shawn Wong (1st-year master’s)

Perspectives of the machine

Composers have long been incorporating mechanical processes of computers into human creativity. What began as a tool has now evolved to a level of intelligence where its creative potential can, to a certain extent, be compared with ‘human intelligence’.

This project – although aiming to build an intelligent system for making decisions and judgements in sound synthesis and material organisation – takes an approach that deviates from the common notion of artificial intelligence as modelling human intelligence. Since musical perception and decisions are merely a bundle of deterministic calculations in a computer, redefining and/or intervening in the computer’s underlying human-centred model can potentially bring us to a new horizon of mechanical perspectives on sound and composition that we otherwise cannot reach. ‘Problematic’ results returned by the computer would then not be seen as errors, but recognised as a unique perspective of its logical operation. The reconfiguration of algorithms can lead to fundamental questions of perspectival differences in a collaborative music-making context.

The research will be investigated from two directions: first, non-standard sound synthesis methods utilising computer operations (starting with what the composer Gottfried Michael Koenig described as “not imitating mechanical instruments or theoretical acoustic models” (Composition Processes, Koenig, 1978)); and second, algorithms of machine-perceptions – which form the basis of machine-decision-making – for material and form generation in music composition and improvisation. I believe, through a unique lens of the machine, the project can reveal the multiplicity of musical organisations and explore the tensions between our biological limitations and imaginative desire.

Nirantar Yakthumba (1st-year master’s)

Cultivating Musics

How do different musics emerge throughout the world as modes of expression that sensibly inscribe meanings for their practitioners and listeners? The realities of different people—shaped by ever-changing multiplicities—cause them to produce music in incommensurably different ways. In their production, different musics implicate different limiting conditions: selections of materials, material configurations, and techniques of sounding. In this project, I investigate how cultures of musical labour arise as vehicles for our correspondences with the world, and for the sensible expression of our experiences and understandings of the world.

I will approach the problems outlined above by situating the inquiry within different interpenetrating relational perspectives: viz. the intrapersonal-interpersonal, the historical-material, the potential-actual, and the ontological-epistemological. This network of perspectives provides points of departure towards a creative methodology that is intrinsic to particular musical situations rather than constituting a speculative framework that is applied onto situations, observing and evaluating them from the outside, and extrapolating models or criteria for creativity to conform to. 

As a prime example of the operation of this network of perspectives, I demonstrate the focal point of the project, in which I will elaborate a methodology for music making as a productive response to our current capitalist reality. The seemingly all-encompassing, perpetually-growing institution of capitalism neutralizes the potentiality intrinsic to the boundless modes of music making and listening, subsuming acts of musical creation to categorial schemes of products that are readily valuable and marketable, eradicating musical (sub)cultures, and pitting artists in competition with each other. The question of the emergence of different ways of music making and listening then takes the shape of the situation in the form of a new series of questions that arises in corresponding with the intrapersonal-interpersonal, the historical-material, the potential-actual, and the ontological-epistemological. 

Amit Dagim (2nd-year master’s)

Composing synthetic creatures, instruments, and environments –polyphony, color, and space

In synthesis and sound design that drives toward the acoustic-like, the pseudo-organic, the animalistic, the surreal or hyper-real, the physical and esoteric, there is an unmapped territory that is laden with uncanny impressions of supposed species, instruments, objects, and worlds. It is an aesthetic approach that brings forth the thing becoming—animate, dynamic and alive—as opposed to the thing become, supposedly clear, objective, and neat, though in fact frozen and lifelessI would like to explore these areas of synthesis through a study of polyphony, color, and space, and their relevance and application for creating aesthetically physical or acoustic sound and music. 

The polyphonic is the multi-voiced, multi-perspective narrative, image, structure. It is the way of thinking in arrays, networks, multitudes, and interactions. It is a basic quality for a multi-voiced, dynamic system that is made of individual—yet connected and inter-dependent—voices to play and interact in.

Color and space are almost inseparable in the context of “pseudo-acoustic” synthesis, as spatial/time-based processing is an essential factor in the timbre of the object/organism, as it is in our perception of it as a live, vibrant, physical thing that inhabits a world or space of some sort. Color would be the overall timbre and texture of sound, but in fact leading to questions of synesthetic phenomena and perception. In feedback patching and various methods of audio signal processing, I find a deep connection and importance to the aforementioned questions of aesthetics and composition.

Researching methods of digital and analog feedback patching/routing, dynamic, spectral, and spatial processing, electroacoustic feedback systems, and concepts of polyphony, arrangement, and rhythm, I would like to make a study of the applications of these techniques for the composition of supposed creatures, instruments, and habitats. I will then compile a catalogue of recordings, that will act as field-recordings of these worlds and the voices/objects that inhabit them, and serve as a possible basis for several compositions reflecting these ideas and aesthetics.

Gyuchul Moon (2nd-year master’s)

Organic Algorithmic Composition

To reach a goal of self-organization is a process where some form of overall order arises from local interactions between parts of an initially disordered system.

A noise, which is not only sound but also two-dimensional in computational terms, contains information of all frequencies and the implicit possibility of being structured and composed of tomographic layers. At this point, a question arises: If we design a sonic system that is controlled by feedback and self-regulation like Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), would it generate a form of music?

This research project aims to create a program and algorithm for generating music forms. For this process, cybernetics theory and the concept of neural networks will be referenced. The core concept of cybernetics is circular causality or feedback—where the observed outcomes of actions are taken as inputs for further action in ways that support the pursuit and maintenance of particular conditions or their disruption. Assuming a situation in which waves occur in water, entropy increases with the movement of water. After that, if there are no other external forces, It enters an equilibrium state through the characteristics of the fluid. In general, all substances are defined in terms of their equilibrium state. A system in which feedback exists has the potential of a natural, organic network. This research aims to create music with a generative structure, which has feedback, self-regulation, and self-organization. I will explore the possibility that the form of music is composed as an organic form, including the process of reaching physical and chemical equilibrium within these structures.

It will implement a contemporary computational methodology to program a whole system. The bottom-up architecture will be considered, including the detailed nodes involved in sound generation. To reach an organic network of Networks refers to the idiosyncratic research of the British cybernetician Gordon Pask, whose work looks at a theory of conversation and electrochemical learning mechanism ( “Physical Analogues to the Growth of a Concept,” “The Natural History of Networks” ).

The algorithms of the project consist of a small-scale structural set. Each substructure is designed as a single organism based on interdisciplinary cybernetics research to become a whole system as a music form. The correlation of individual units set for the organicity of the overall structure is set low. Each unit of the procedurally generated sound structure maintains a kind of relationship and goes through the process of creation, extinction, and transformation. It creates a form that has the potential to develop by giving and receiving feedback in a self-organized and evolving system.

New auditory imagination will arise through the programmatic connection of the real and the artificial. Based on an engineering approach that links traditional machine algorithms with sound and uses the principles of self-organization, this project raises fundamental questions about digital, technical, and complex systems and their entanglement with the aspect of sound.

Adomas Palekas (2nd-year master’s)

Microbial and Molecular Sonifications

Microbial and Molecular Sonifications is an interdisciplinary master’s research project that aims to search for novel connections between microbiology and sound. My particular interest is in the sonic potential of metabolic processes and molecular structures found in microorganisms. Although we can’t hear microbes or organic molecules directly, sonification can be used to audibly display certain microbial qualities, such as growth curves, amino acid and DNA sequences. I seek to explore sonification as a method for interdisciplinary practice linking both natural sciences and composition.

Humans are partially comprised of microbes: the trillion bacteria living inside our gut, which have an impact on our physical and even mental wellbeing. However, apart from the physiological influence, could microorganisms influence us cognitively or spiritually as well? What could the voice of the microorganism be? Could a sonic-incorporeal interaction invoke new sensations or modes of listening, inspiring us to stray outside our anthropocentric viewpoint? These questions form the conceptual basis of my research.

My master’s research will comprise two practical stages. First, I plan to experiment with sonic mapping of biological datasets such as amino and nucleic acid sequences, including their secondary and tertiary structures, and then compose a series of pieces using these methods. Further, I plan to experiment with sonification of living organisms in micro-ecosystems and ecospheres. Through these experiments I aim to develop a bio-sonic interface that would represent the real-time metabolic processes in the audible domain. I will also experiment with an auditory feedback loop that will directly vibrate the micro-ecosystem. I believe this could lead to a formation of an autopoietic bio-sonory system, where sound becomes more than just an output but also the major factor contributing to life, death and adaptive evolution.

Oscar Peters (2nd-year master’s)

New Perspectives for Organ Music 

Nowadays, pipe organ is not a very popular choice amongst composers of any kind, and because of its relationship with the sacred space, more and more generations grow up without having a sounding memory of the instrument. Combined with the inevitable and rapidly increasing closure of churches, this prompts the question of whether the instrument’s future is in danger. New Perspectives for Organ Music orbits around the future perspective of organ music, its physical identity, and the current limitations of the instrument. This project is a continuation of my BMus research project, and tries to unveil new sonic potential and artistic possibilities through speculative research and practice. 

This project can be described as a continuous feedback dialogue between my roles as composer-performer and instrument-builder. These two agencies—which are motivated by artistic innovation—will dialogue with each other, and will occur simultaneously throughout the process. As an instrument-builder, I aim to develop several technical approaches that deal with the excitation of organ pipes. These different types of excitation should extend the timbral domain and dynamic behaviour that is characteristic of the contemporary organ. Within this context, I attempt to answer questions such as: What defines an organ? What musical parameters of the contemporary organ should we keep, and which ones should we replace? What can we learn from other wind instruments, and how can we apply these instrument-specific behaviours onto the organ?

Ege Şahin (2nd-year master’s)

Sonic TransfrontiersAgency of sound in border conditions 

The borderas a territorial, political, social, and juridical concept, is often researched by sociologists, anthropologists, architects, and historians, but rarely by the ears of music artists and sound theorists. If done, this can open up new ways in dealing with the agency of sound on how it acts and reacts, engages and disengages, in various modes of bordering: national borders, gendered bathrooms, dis(con)sonance, loudness, mountains, rivers, and so on. 

This research is twofold; first as sound in borders’ and second as borders in sound’. The first will deal with the potentiality of sound as a border-crossing agent, facilitating sonic transfrontiers from a geo-cultural context that will unfold through onsite research involving field-recordings, experiment design, and consultation with experts and habitants in historically and politically conflicting borders that Turkey shares with Armenia, Syria, and Cyprus. 

The second aspect will question sound as a border-bearing phenomenon, interpreting physical properties of sound—such as threshold, instability, noise, and distortion—as possible borders. In order to refer to these notions as borders, it is necessary to investigate, both through experiments (including subject-specific physical and digital instrument preparation and source manipulation) and theoretical research, if a conceptual framework for borders in sound can be established and, if so, where does the emerging sound material compositionally stand? 

Elif Gülin Soğuksu (2nd-year master’s)

Emancipating the Voice as an Instrument in Electroacoustic Music

The voice is a universal sound source that can be controlled and moulded in an exceptionally malleable and direct way. It is an instrument capable of producing and sculpting complex sound structures within its range in changing dynamics, gestures, and behaviors. Musical ideas and imagined/inner sonorities can be expressed immediately without the utilization of other tools. It can facilitate flexible and convenient expressiveness in improvisation, where it can be employed in the development of different compositional strategies.

Using the voice in one’s work provokes an inquiry into meaning in
conjunction with the frameworks of identity, gender, and culture; it
evokes associations, connotations, and significations. Hence, it might have a way of influencing the perception and interpretation of the listener; it can be so prominent and distinctive that it grabs attention. In musical forms, the voice could be immensely dependent on the historical aspects, social-cultural norms, and conditioning factors of which performer is brought up. Thereby, these might be limiting andrestrictive factors of voice expression.

My project aims to push the expressive boundaries of voice and oral
materiality by investigating its sound-making capacity and potentialities in electroacoustic music practices. The overarching focus is to emancipate the voice from the potential inferences that are embedded within it by means of technology, while maintaining its intrinsic instrumentality, expressiveness, directness, and malleability.

The outcome will be an interactive music system performed through the voice that will be capable of analyzing the incoming sonic data and parameters to synthesize sound events in real-time during performance. The project will revolve around the question of what are the ways of preserving the directness, morphological identity, and peculiarities of the voice as an instrument even though the voice quality is radically abstracted by the system. Consequently, it will react and use substantially the morphological aspect of the voice to organize musical events and produce sonic structures.