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Spatialization figures in contemporary music: the emergence of a new compositional parameter

Lecture François-Xavier Féron (CNRS, STMS-Ircam, Sorbonne Université, Ministère de la Culture)
Kickstart for the IRCAM Spatialisation workshop – end presentation on Friday 7 September

Monday September 3
HKU IBB: room 171
12:00-15:15 hours
free entry for HKU students
In coproduction with Gaudeamus Muziekweek


Spatial considerations in composition have existed for centuries. At the beginning of the XVIe century, Adrien Willaert and after him, Andrea and Giovani Gabrieli experimented with different spatializations of musicians inside the San Marco basilica in Venice. In their “chori spezzati”, groups of musicians, positioned in different locations in the church, responded to one another to create the illusion of an echo. With the emergence of electroacoustic and mixed music after World War II, several composers became interested in the possibilities of not only positioning static sources in space but also moving sounds in space. Auditory motion thus became an integral aspect of musical works. During this lecture, I will discuss the emergence and history of space as a musical parameter. I will focus more specifically on the conception of spatialization figures, a practice explored by many composers.


François-Xavier Féron has a Master’s degree (university Paris VI) in musical acoustics and a PhD in musicology (university Paris IV). His PhD thesis, defended in 2006, focuses on the impact auditory illusions have had upon the field of musical creation. After teaching at the university of Nantes (2006-2007), he was a postdoctoral researcher in psychoacoustics at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (McGill University, Montreal, 2008-2009) where he studied perception of auditory rotational sound sources. He then joined the team Analyse des Pratiques Musicales at Ircam as a postdoctoral fellow within the MuTeC project (2009-2011) – which aims to study the creative process in music –, then the GEMME project (2012-2015) – which examines the use of gestures in contemporary music. Since 2013, he has been a tenured researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). He worked at the Laboratoire Bordelais de Recherche en Informatique and the Studio de Création et de Recherche en Informatique et Musiques Expérimentales (LaBRI-SCRIME, UMR 5800, Bordeaux University) before coming back in 2018 to the team Analyse des Pratiques Musicales (STMS-Ircam, UMR 9912, Sorbonne University). Since 2015 he has been member of the CIRMMT. His research – on the boundary between musical acoustics and musicology – focuses on contemporary musical practices and interactions between art, science and technology.