Dr. Thor Magnusson, from the University of Sussex, is in residency at CNMAT for a week this Spring. This is part of his Sonic Writing Research project which is a two-year research program that explores work and practices using new technologies for musical expression. Through tracing the historical conditions of material and symbolic design in in three interconnected strands of inscription - instruments, notation, and phonography - the project studies how established techniques are translated into new methods of musical composition and performance in digital musical media.

This research will map and clarify a complex landscape of current developments in music technology research where boundaries between creating and listening, and between instruments and media are disappearing. New inventions are uprooting traditional approaches to the writing, playing and sharing of music, and this needs to be studied from a media theoretical perspective. The Sonic Writing project will explore how past techniques and design patterns found in the areas of instrument design, musical notation and sound recording are translated into digital media practices of musical expression.

Thor Magnusson is a lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex. His work focusses on the impact digital technologies have on musical creativity and practice, explored through software development, composition and performance. He is the co-founder of ixi audio (www.ixi-audio.net), and has developed audio software, systems of generative music composition, written computer music tutorials and created two musical live coding environments. As part of ixi, he has taught workshops in creative music coding and sound installations, and given presentations, performances and visiting lectures at diverse art institutions, conservatories, and universities internationally. Further information: http://thormagnusson.github.io

Related talk:  Monday, April 24, noon-2 p.m., CNMAT (free and open to the public)

Interfacing Sound: Visual Representation of Sound in Musical Software Instruments

In this talk Thor Magnusson will discuss work in composition, performance and the development of audiovisual software - from small instrumental applications to live coding systems. Exploring concepts of affordances and constraints, the ixi lang and Threnoscope live coding environments will be presented as examples of limited systems that frame the musician's compositional thoughts. Both are systems that engage with the visual as an integral element of musical composition, equally as prescriptive and representative notation for musical processes.

The talk will examine how music software development goes hand in hand with music research; where the digital system's requirements for specifications and completeness inevitably forces a strong understanding of the source domain. Such musical practice, when expressed through performance or composition, derives from a rigid research process, yet exists separately from it.