CIE started research into the idea of creating a multi-performer collaborative work utilizing a series of focused loudspeakers in 1977.  An N.E.A. sponsored research residency at Media Study/Buffalo took place over a two month period in 1979, with members John Driscoll, Ralph Jones, Martin Kalve, and David Tudor participating.


While most traditional music has been concerned with the position of sounds in the frequency domain (pitch and harmony), and the time domain (rhythm and tempo), and some newer music uses newly accessible timbral change and the distribution of sound through speaker placement (panning, stereo and quad techniques), little work has been done using spatial positioning as a compositional technique.

The science of acoustics has infrequently been applied to isolating sound phenomena to specific positions in space. There can be a world of musical

compositions utilizing the distribution of localized sonic events in space rather than time: sound designs in physical dimensions, musical architectures, both

static and dynamic.

The exploration of these musical worlds is dependent on the development of tools and techniques for localizing vibration in air. So far, these tools have utilized the theories of acoustics that are usually applied to instrument analysis and design, and to general-purpose loudspeaker design: linear phase, frequency and dispersion characteristics. However, with new research, these tools can be optimized for maximum directional characteristics.

This residency resulted in the development of a number of focused loudspeaker designs including :

    - Parabolic lenses (speakers & reflectors)

    - Mechanical lenses (end-fire, slant plate, etc.)  

    - Tuned folded-horn speakers

    - Multi-ported resonant speakers

At the time, the research was focused on the speaker design vs. source material for each device.  Each device was charted as to its frequency response and focal characteristics.


                      David Tudor © 1977                                     John Driscoll © 1977

                   Martin Kalve © 1977                                     Ralph Jones © 1977


              Prototype focused speakers - CIE Residency - Media Study/Buffalo (1979)  


Focused audio speakers could be successfully constructed with multiple mechanics:

    - Parabolic lenses (singles/multiples)

    - End-Pole arrays

    - Mechanical diffraction lenses

    - Slant-plate lenses

The research proved that It was practical to develop multiple acoustical lenses that would allow for the distribution of localized sound fields with controllable focal points.  Further work would be needed to fabricate devices for performance and optimize sound sources for these devices.

The outcome of the residency was that CIE members utilized various focused speakers in their individual work and it served as the inspiration for John Driscoll to continue with the design and development of a number of compositions with focused speaker and a series of robotic rotating loudspeaker systems with collaboration by Peter Labiak and Phil Edelstein.

                       Brace (1979) - John Driscoll - Dance Theater Workshop (NYC)

                                                             [Focused Speakers]


                          A Hall is All (1986) - John Driscoll - AEG Factory (Berlin)

                                                    [Robotic Rotating Speakers]

As part of the residency each composer presented a lecture/demonstration for the public on four consecutive Sundays as part of a series titled Aspects of Collaboration in Electronic Performance:

    Ralph Jones - “Design and Collaborative Composition”

    John Driscoll - “Automated Puppetry”

    Martin Kalve - “The Art of Playing Electronic Instruments”

    David Tudor - “Altering Signal Sources in Real Time”

updated 8/17/12

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