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Sonic Environments will run from Sunday 10th July until Monday 11th July
NIME will run from Monday 11th July until Friday 15th July.

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Monday, July 11 • 09:00 - 10:30
Sonic Environments Papers 3 (stream B)

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Sandy Sur and Tom Dick

Sonic Environment in Vanuatu: Exploring Water Music

Sandy Sur’s research focuses around the Water Music of Vanuatu and its connection to the environment. Water connects everything on earth and is essential for survival. At a time when the world is facing so many environmental challenges it is more important than ever before to deeply understand the role of water in our life. Understanding the sound and rhythm of Vanuatu Water Music allows us to explore the environment in new ways and develop a deeper understanding of the role sound plays in the environment. The Water Music of Vanuatu is site-specific and deeply inspired by the surrounding environment. This inspiring tradition is now evolving in response to rapidly changing climates that are affecting island communities. 

Sandy is one of the only people in the world holding the knowledge to lead research on water music and over the last decade he has directed a wide spectrum of research projects designed to bring water music to the world. Sandy’s research showcases this tradition as a way for understanding the environment at a time when we urgently need to listen to nature. His research is realised as live performances, films, recordings and web based media designed as tools for reaching the world. 

Sandy Sur is the Manager of the Leweton Cultural group. While the water music of Vanuatu is a once-in-a-lifetime performance that needs to be seen (and heard) to be believed – the Leweton Cultural group deliver a range of customary artisanal performances and workshops including dances, weaving, carving, mixed-media/found objects, environmental art, and instrument-making. Sandy coordinates residencies for the group at international festivals and events with deep connections to people of place. The Leweton Cultural Group has stunned audiences at World Expo 2008 in Zaragova, several European Union diplomatic functions, the Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo, the Bellingen Global Carnival, Queensland Music Festival, and the Floating Land Festival in Australia and the Lukaotem Gud Santo Festival in Vanuatu. Sandy is a ranked man and leader from Merelava in Vanuatu. A skilled carver, weaver, craftsman, and curator Sandy is adept at using elements of the natural world as well as found objects and ubiquitous technical items such as wire, rope, etc to create functional and beautiful objects. This research paper explores the sonic environments of Vanuatu and the role of Water Music. 

Ian Stevenson: School of Humanities and Communication Arts Western Sydney University


This paper reviews analytical literature concerned with retail and other commercial environments for the purposes of identifying effective sound design for ambient media including digital signage. The paper details the background to a proposed design project for the audio augmentation of digital signage in student services facilities on a university campus. In the paper, the term soundscape is used as a conceptual tool to explore the various dimensions of the experience of the acoustic environment that may be manipulated or accounted for in such a design.

Lindsay Vickery: Edith Cowan University School of Music,
Michael Terren: Edith Cowan University School of Music
Sam Gillies: Independent Artist
Josten Myburgh: Independent Artist


This paper discusses recent works incorporating field recordings and acoustic instruments by four Western Australian composers: Sam Gillies, Josten Myburgh, Michael Terren and Lindsay Vickery. In particular, the paper investigates their approaches to issues and techniques of spectral analysis, sonification, coordination of live and prerecorded elements, transcription, resynthesis, transformation and ecostructural considerations. The discussion is framed by an examination of the evolution of the practice of combining field recordings and acoustic instruments as a genre in the context of ideological and technological advancements and impediments. The works are placed in the framework of emerging digital technologies deployed in similar work by James O'Callaghan, Aaron Einbond, Joanna Bailie and Chaz Underriner. 


Lindsay Vickery

Edith Cowan University|Perth|Western Australia|Australia

avatar for Sandy Sur

Sandy Sur

Founder/Manager, Leweton Cultural Experience
“I believe that it is important for people to understand the sacred nature of water and this is one of the major reasons that I have worked hard to revive the use of magical Water Music in Vanuatu. | I see three things that connect us on earth. There is mother earth, our natural mother and water. Without these three things, nothing would exist. | The Vanuatu Women’s Water Music ceremony is an amazing display of sounds, rhythms and... Read More →

Monday July 11, 2016 09:00 - 10:30
Conservatorium Room 2.14

Attendees (9)