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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 • 11:00 - 12:30
Sonic Environments Papers 4 (stream B)

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Mace Francis: Edith Cowan University

From Traffic Rises: Site Specificity and the Compositional Process

What happens when architectural spaces become the initial musical inspiration or compositional starting point for a new musical work? What unique musical material can they offer the compositional process? Approaching these spaces with this open mind set raises challenges, especially when the musical materials revealed in the space is outside the comfort zone of the composer. This paper examines a way to integrate the sound characteristics of an architectural space into the compositional process, and discusses how different levels of site-specificity may be engaged in this process.

My research grew from an interest in composing music for the acoustic problems of performance spaces rather than trying to resist them and led to an exploration of built environments which could be used to initiate musical material directly linked to the site. A pedestrian bridge was chosen for its unique sound and physical characteristics as well as challenges which required creating a pre-compositional testing and workshopping methodology.

These experimental processes inspired an original composition titled From Traffic Rises for eight acoustic musicians, electronics and four speakers.
This research also draws inspiration from literature in theatre and choreography that interrogates the way works can be linked to their particular site. In particular, Dr Fiona Wilkie’s scale of site-specificity for theatre provides a useful tool to gauge the level of site interaction. In addition, dance theorist, Victoria Hunter’s methodology for testing the possibilities of a site for an artwork has been employed in the early stages of engaging with the site.

These creative influences are synthesised to form an alternative compositional process which begins, and is informed by a physical space as a musical starting point. From Traffic Rises demonstrates that the acoustic and physical design features of a physical space can become an integral part of a new work, providing an important contribution to the possibilities of creating acoustic music.

Damian Castaldi


Tambourine Bay is a multimodal work for large-scale, interactive video projection and live electroacoustic performance. It can be seen and heard as a window into the local weather patterns experienced in the Tambourine Bay Reserve, situated on the Lane Cove river, Sydney and represents a transition or dramatic shift in the climate over a 16 day period. Additional audio and text combine with this to reflect on more severe weather patterns across the east and west coast of Australia leading up to the Australia day long weekend. 

The work is scored for 51 percussionists and 100 tambourines. Additional instrumentation includes a percussive/string instrument with audio sensor interface using a Raspberry Pi Model B+, six fast vibration sensor switches, wire / aluminium frame, clear acrylic housing & miscellaneous electronic components; electronic & acoustic drums; cymbals & tambourines. 

The work combines these acoustic, electronic and handmade instruments in the performance of original music in the styles of Industrial/Upbeat/Electronica & Ambient/Soundtrack. It is experimental and partly improvisational, combining processed samples & location sound recording with live electronica, percussion and large scale interactive video projection. 

The video component of Tambourine Bay was first programmed for installation at the Balance-Unbalance International Conference 2013 in Noosa, Queensland, Australia from the 31st of March to the 2nd of June 2013. The single channel video work was presented in the ‘Earth to Earth’ sound venue throughout the conference proceedings. After participating in this event I started working on a large scale version of Tambourine Bay for performance and it is the development of this work that I will discuss in this Artist Talk.

avatar for Nigel Frayne

Nigel Frayne

Director, Resonant Designs
Soundscape design for public spaces | World Forum for Acoustic Ecology | Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology | | BIO: | Mr Nigel Frayne | Bachelor of Arts (Music) LaTrobe University, Melbourne | Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Music Technology, LaTrobe University, Melbourne | Director, Resonant Designs P/L., Melbourne | | Nigel Frayne is a Soundscape and Electroacoustic Designer with a background as a musician, sound engineer, and theatre... Read More →

avatar for Damian Castaldi

Damian Castaldi

Director, The Last Bureau
Damian has a background in acoustic, instrumental, jazz and electronic drums & percussion, sound installation and audiovisual / performance art. He studied in the Sculpture, Performance and Installation (SPI) studios at Sydney College of the Arts in the mid 80’s and had the conceptual / artistic tuition and guidance of Tom Arthur, Vanetta Lagsdina, Mike Parr, Stelarc & Derek Kreckler. Following on from SCA he furthered his career with a... Read More →

Monday July 11, 2016 11:00 - 12:30
Conservatorium Room 2.14

Attendees (3)