Document Type

Conference Proceeding


The Australasian Computer Music Association


John Coulter


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications




James, S. G., & Hope, C. A. (2011). Multidimensional data sets: traversing sound synthesis, sound sculpture, and scored composition. Paper presented at the Australasian Computer Music Conference. Auckland, New Zealand. Available here


This article documents some of the conceptual developments of some various approaches to using multidimensional data sets as a means of propagating sound, manipulating and sculpting sound, and generating compositional scores. This is not only achieved through a methodology that is reminiscent of some of the systematic matrix procedures employed by composer Peter Maxwell Davies, but also through a generative signal path method conventionally termed Wave Terrain Synthesis. Both methodologies follow in essence the same kind of paradigm - the notion of extracting information through a process of traversing multidimensional topography. In this article we look at four documented examples. The first example is concerned with the organic morphology of modulation synthesis. The second example documents a dynamical Wave Terrain Synthesis model that responds and adapts in realtime to live audio input. The third example addresses the use of Wave Terrain Synthesis as a method of controlling another signal processing technique - in this case the independent spatial distribution of 1024 different spectral bands over a multichannel speaker array. The fourth example reflects on the use of matrices in some of the systematic compositional processes of Peter Maxwell Davies, and briefly shows how pitch, rhythm, and articulation matrices can be extended into higher-dimensional structures, and proposes how gesture can be used to create realtime generative scores. The underlying intent here is to find an effective and unified methodology for simultaneously controlling the complex parameter sets of synthesis, spatialisation, and scored composition in live realtime laptop performance.

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