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Time and place:

From 6-9 July 2011 The School of Music University of Auckland New Zealand will host a 4-day research symposium on the topic of Organic Sounds in Live Electroacoustic Music. The keynote presenter will be Simon Emmerson (DMU). Other featured composers and presenters include: John Cousins (NZ Composer), Gerardo Dirie (QCGU), John Elmsly (UA), Jason Phillips (Taonga Puoro Player), and Ian Whalley (UW).

As a special feature of the conference, a series of closed concerts will be presented through a 24-channel geodesic sound dome that will be installed in Studio One Kenneth Myers Centre for the duration of the 4-day event (small audiences only). A second multi-channel system designed to cope with larger public audiences will be installed in the Music Theatre, and made available to participating ACMC delegates. Practical workshops will also be offered on Taonga Puoro (traditional Maori Instrument) making and playing, and ambisonic recording and spatialisation techniques.

The special theme of ACMC11 is Organic Sounds in Live Electroacoustic Music.

For the sake of clarity, a dictionary definition of the term 'organic' is first offered.

organic: or•gan•ic adj | ôr'ganik |

  1. of, produced by, or found in plants or animals, the rocks were carefully searched for organic remains,
  2. not using, or grown without, artificial fertilizers or pesticides, organic vegetables, an organic farm,
  3. (Chem) of or belonging to the class of chemical compounds that are formed from carbon,
  4. (of change or development) gradual and natural rather than sudden or forced,
  5. made up of many different parts which contribute to the way in which the whole society or structure works, an organic whole,
Collins English Dictionary Online - 10th Edition 2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009. Retrieved December 2010 from

A contextual definition might include sounds made by plants and animals (including humans) as well as all sounds that exhibit the behaviour and/or form of living things (the surrogates of living organisms). In live electroacoustic music, this may include the use of real-world samples, abstract sounds produced by musical instruments, as well as those produced by generative systems.

Firstly, regarding the use of sound samples in live electroacoustic music: Australia and New Zealand are home to some of the most remarkable (and some of the most endangered) species of plants and animals in the natural world. Sounds from the Australasian biosphere such as wind, waves, insects, bird and whale song have, for centuries - if not millennia - provided musicians with a source of inspiration, and with settings in which to contemplate their individual and collective heritage. Body sounds and rhythms too, form a powerful subset of musical materials on which many claim human appreciation of musical phraseology and dance is based. Then there are the industrial and urban soundscapes - the sounds of every day life - that might that might be considered to be organic. Since the advent of recording, composers have made prolific use of real-world sounds in their music, and in both Australia and New Zealand there is an established culture of sample editing approaches to music making. Now, with the aid of multichannel technology, and faster computer processing, composers have the capacity to reproduce sophisticated real-world environments in 3-dimensions, and to use a number of once-non-real-time processes in live performance. Some interesting questions arise: What are the advantages of employing such technologies in this way? How might sound samples be used to greatest effect in live electroacoustic performance settings?

The term 'organic', within the context of music is not without precedent. In popular music it is often used to describe the quality of certain sounds as 'living', or to highlight a specific process of natural and/or evolutionary development - so it is with ease, that it migrates to the realm of abstract instrumental sounds. Traditional Maori and Aboriginal instruments have achieved a special status in their ability to evoke associations with living things present and past, while modern and ancient instruments made from wood, bone, seashells, clay, and stone appear to be being used more and more in live contemporary performance. Electroacoustic composers can now elect to transform acoustic instruments (both traditional and modern), and/or other objects of personal value into complex hyper-instruments that produce organic acoustic, and electroacoustic sounds. Very quiet, (and sometimes inaudible) sounds, such as those produced by some ethnic instruments, or sounds from the human body, can be amplified, and spectrally extended in real time, transforming our ordinary sense of spatial organisation. Within this sub-domain, some important questions arise: How might traditional Maori and Aboriginal instruments be respectfully employed within the context of electroacoustic music? How might technology be used to extend or change our own body boundaries?

The term may also be used to describes generative systems based on conversational or evolutionary models. For this special class, we might adopt the category of 'surrogates of living things'. These intelligent artificial agents are being used more and more (in various musical settings) as a means of extending the sonic capabilities of instruments, to manage information too complex for the ordinary performer to comprehend (such as multimodal gestural data), and as performers in their own right. How might this new technology be used to assist the ordinary electroacoustic performer/composer?

Scientific and socio-cultural approaches to the subject unearth several complex sub-topics each with its own set of detailed questions: What are the salient features (abstract sonic characteristics) that lead to the appreciation of sound as organic? Does psychological projection of 'the self' (or selves) play a part in the efficacy of such sounds? Does the use of organic sounds in electroacoustic music encourage a paradigm shift from Music for Performance to Music for Personal Growth?

Academic discussion on the theme Organic Sounds In Live Electroacoustic Music is a difficult proposition, as there are a number of remote, yet intersecting domains to consider - each with its own set of terms, and its own cluster of research priorities. Nevertheless, significant contributions to the topic (and sub-topics) have already been made. There is much to be gleaned from the music of Australasian composers and performers who work with the (often unique) sound sources specified; from their artist's talks and research publications; and from the expert domain literature associated with the fields of acoustic ecology, Maori and Aboriginal music, socio-cultural aspects of electroacoustic music, live electronic music, and psychology of human audition. The organisers of ACMC11 feel that the subject is important to Australasia, and worthy of further investigation.

Auckland Cityscape at Night Image of Auckland courtesy of Business Week

Call for Papers and Presentations of Research

Conference papers for peer review and publication in the conference proceedings are requested concerning all aspects relating to the theme of the conference. Papers and presentations concerning Organic Sounds in Acousmatic Electroacoustic Music / Sonic Art are also welcome.

Submissions from wider fields are also welcome: Themes may include:

Papers and presentations may be in one of the following categories:

Each spoken presentation (excludes studio reports) will be 20-min in duration with 10-min reserved for questions. The inclusion of creative work is encouraged as a means of research reporting. Stereo playback, and data projection facilities will be made available to all presenters.

Guidelines for submission of papers

All written submissions will be subject to a process of peer review.

The text should be single-spaced; use a 12-point font; employ italics, rather than underlining (except with URL addresses); and all illustrations, figures, and tables should be placed within the text at the appropriate points, rather than at the end.

The text should adhere to the stylistic and bibliographic requirements outlined in the ACMC submission templates.

The submission file should be in PDF format.

PLEASE NOTE: Various changes have been made to the style guides used in previous years. Please use the 2011 templates

The deadline for receipt of proposals is Thursday 31 March 2011. Please visit the conference website for full details on submitting papers -

Call for Presentations of Creative Work:

Delegates are welcome to submit creative works for inclusion in the following concert series. Space in some events may be limited, as a number of high profile Australian and New Zealand Composers have already accepted invitations to present.

Lunchtime Concert Series

SONIC ART 2011 (Live Works)

Guidelines for submission of creative work

The organisers welcome submissions of recorded, acoustic, and mixed works with any combination of electronic and acoustic elements. Playback formats available will include CD, DVD, and file-based playback for stereo or multichannel works (up to 16 channels).

Creative works should be submitted by post (to the following address) in file format on optical media (CD/DVD) in either stereo or multiple-mono format. Works containing visual elements should also be submitted as DV PAL or HD files. Alternatively, submitters are welcome to contact the conference coordinator directly to arrange server transfer (

Street Address:
School of Music
National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries
University of Auckland
6 Symonds St

Postal Address:
School of Music
National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand

Telephone: +64 9 373 7999
Facsimile: +64 9 373 7446

Additionally, creative work submissions should include a PDF file specifying the following:

Title of Work:
Required resources: (video cameras, projectors, microphones, speaker configuration, etc).

The deadline for receipt of proposals is Thursday 31 March 2011. Please visit the conference website for full details on submitting papers -

Call for Workshop Proposals

Workshops are educational sessions run by a conference delegate or partner on a particular area of their expertise. There will be opportunities for delegates to host workshops on Saturday 9 July (the day after the conference). Proposals for workshops are welcome on any topic related to the theme of the conference.

Guidelines for submission of workshop proposals

Please submit a proposal (no more than 500 words) detailing the topic, scope and likely resource requirements for the workshop. Proposals should be discussed with the conference organisers before submitting. Please visit the conference website for full details on submitting workshop proposals -


Conference registration is now available. To book and register please visit:

Registration Costs
ADULT - Full Conference: $220.00
STUDENT - Full Conference: $120.00

ADULT - Single Day: $100.00
STUDENT - Single Day: $60.00

All ACMC11 concerts are free to the public, with the exception of the Sonic Art concert on 7 July, which is $15 (but free to ACMC delegates). Special concerts held in the 'sound dome' will be closed to the public (attended by ACMC delegates only)


The full conference programme will be available in early May 2011

Contact details

For further details please visit or contact the ACMC11 organisers directly

The organisers would like to thank the Composers Association of New Zealand (CANZ) for publicising the event.

Dr John Coulter
Senior Lecturer
Head of Sound Programmes
School of Music
National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries
The University of Auckland

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