International Computer Music Conference 2016 Papers Track

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A 3-D Future for Loudspeaker Orchestras Emulated in Higher-Order Ambisonics

The majority of acousmatic music exists in stereo: a format best performed over a loudspeaker orchestra. Although multi-channel formats are popular, many composers still choose stereo and link their work to diffusion performance practice. Yet a growing trend in loudspeaker systems is the permanent, high-density loudspeaker array (P-HDLA). Constructed from similar speakers, evenly distributed around the space, P-HDLAs maximize audience area and eliminate time-consuming setup time. Although compatible with most multi-channel formats, they pose a practical and musical dilemma for stereo sound diffusion.

Looking to the past and future of stereo acousmatic composition and performance, I have designed the ‘Virtualmonium’. The Virtualmonium emulates the principles of the classical loudspeaker orchestra in higher-order ambisonics. Beyond serving as an instrument for sound diffusion, composers and performers can create custom orchestra emulations, rehearse and refine spatialisation performance off-site, and discover new practices coupling composition with performativity. This paper describes the Virtualmonium, tests its practical application in two prototypes, and discusses the challenges ahead.


Natasha Barrett     web site
Institute for Musicology
University of Oslo


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