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At CultureLab Newcastle [1]

I arrived here on Monday afternoon. The university in very central, and there's a good coffee place right around the corner of CultureLab. So I'm set!

After the first couple of days here is where I stand:

  • SPACE: I'm working in the concertspace - very convenient I can hear it all as it will be during the concert.

  • HARDWARE: Currently the diffusion setup consists of 8 Genelec 8050A speakers (with the bass roll off set to -6db) and two EAW subwoofers - I must say that the Genelecs can only barely deal with the soundlevels I'd like to have. On Monday we'll add 4 EAW tops - this will no doubt solve that issue. The speakers are setup as in the scheme below (where the EAW's are high up).


  • SOFTWARE: I'm using the backup Resound system meaning that I can only have 8 outputs. The Resound system consists of a server that deals with all audio - from my system I send it 6 channels of audio, and it spits out 8 channels to the Genelecs - and a client computer, that deals with the configuration of the diffusion. Both run Ubuntu (Linux) and communicate through OSC (open sound control). Since OSC is very open, everyone basically makes his own sub protocol, resulting in my case in an incompatability between STEIM's junXion and Resound. With junXion I can translate my joystick data into OSC, but only in messages in the format /junXion/controllers/1 - while Resound wants the OSC in the format /fader/1. [.. sound of wrong answer in a gameshow..] So no connection there. I decided to use SuperCollider 3.

  • CONFIGURATION: this is not the place to go into the workings of Resound in detail, but I'll try to explain the basic setup as I have it after two days of working. Resound basically is a matrix, where one can control the amount of signal from every input channel to every output channel - with the 6 inputs and 12 outputs (8 Genelecs and 4 EAWs) this makes for 72 parameters to control (excluding controllers for the main volume, the input- and output levels for all channels and other options). There are 32 faders available in the system - so smart programming is required.
    I use the Logitech joystick's X and Y axis to be able to pan the sound in the 2D plane. Now this sounds easy, but it wasn't. There are some ways to do these kinds of things in Resound, but I couldn't really figure it out. So I put some of the logic in SuperCollider and set the 32 faders in Resound to control the level of 32 matrix nodes - not using the more advanced features of Resound.

  • DIFFUSION: Basically I divided the plane in 4 quadrants, and dealt with fading in and out of audio levels in separate speakers for each of these quadrants. Then I decided I'd output 3 stereo channels to Resound, and I want to control the diffusion of these 3 channels independently. I use three buttons on the joystick to activate/deactivate the joystick X/Y controllers for the 3 channels. Furthermore I use the Slider controller on the joystick to crossfade between the lower plae (Genelecs) and the higher plane (the EAW's). Finally the hatswitch thing on the joystick increments/decrements the main volume level. Are you still with me?

This is where I stand right now. Next things to do:

  • Determine what tracks of Vreemdeling (played back from Nuendo) go to what stereo output - so fixing the three separate layers that I can control independently as mentioned above.
  • Work on the placement of speakers - John Ferguson, a Music Phd student at CultureLab mentioned some non conventional speakers setups that were used before. I'd like to experiment with that.
  • And last but certainly not least: practicing! Playing with the placement of the audio, and create the performance.

Aside from my own work I'm also talking a lot with the Phd students here. There was a seminar on Tuesday, with Chris Leary talking about his thesis subject. Then I met John Ferguson yesterday to talk about his performance setup, and today I'll have a meeting with Paul Bell. After the weekend we'll have an initial listening session for Vreemdeling with some of them, and we'll play a bit in the studio - just to see what's possible for the concert on Friday (the 13th!).