ambisonic and wavefield composition

If you are too narrow in your awareness of sounds, you are likely to be disconnected from your environment […] Compassion (spiritual development) and understanding come from listening impartially to the whole space/time continuum of sound, not just what one is presently concerned about.

— Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening (2005, XXV)

The atmosphere is not an emptiness between things or an absence of things; it is not a void but rather a potentiality that envelops a sum of relationships between things. However, it differs from the linear exchange of projections and representations or the impact of exteriority on interiority. Instead, it is a permeable membrane between things, allowing them to be absorbed in a flux. If soundscape is interpreted as the sum of all sounds in the environment, then an acoustic atmosphere is the mood created by a soundscape.

The etymology of atmosphere comes from the Greek atmos ‘vapour’ and sphaira ‘ball, or globe’, which means the cocktail of gasses enveloping a planet held in place by gravitational pull. The lower the atmosphere’s temperature, the tighter the gravity snuggs it to its planetary body. Different celestial bodies have different atmospheres. Among other things, our ozone protects our soft and squishy genome from ultraviolet-B radiation. So the atmosphere, in a purely astrophysical sense, is the protective cushion that gives us something to breathe and prevents our dear Sun from burning us alive.

The atmosphere facilitates living and non-living processes unique to this “solar driftwood floating in the outer space”. Our atmosphere is inseparably entangled with the biosphere/ecosphere, which includes all living beings in an ecosystem, infusing the lithosphere just like breathing infects us with the atmosphere. All these spheres are ​​porous relative to the density and motion of the material that they are made of. Then the noosphere, the sphere of the mind that was initially attributed to (not without irony) the outstanding achievements of human civilisation in the 20th century, also becomes one of these inseparable permeable layers infused by the atmos-, bio-, eco-, and litho-. Francisco López points out that the noosphere constitutes the audiosphere when he discusses composition as an act of recombination instead of creating fixed pieces, “thorough reconfiguration of the sonic substance, as well as an intrinsic dynamic of constant creative evolution”. In the microcosmos of relations, the atmosphere is not just a phenomenon but an active substance that creates the mood of a place, sometimes called the ambience. Sometimes in the noosphere, the atmosphere transforms from the air we breathe into the air we feel emotionally. I’m sensing that Empathic Atmosphere is revealing itself to be almost tautological like I would say: “the feeling of the mood”.

Presented at
Wavefield Synthesis Festival, Amare, The Hague, 3 June 2023
New Music Lab, Amare, The Hague, 15 June 2023
Beyond Listening, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME), Budapest (HU), 21 November 2023

Announced release date: 8 March 2024
Announced presentation: ZVO.ČI.TI Acousmonium Di-fusion, Produced by Cona Institute, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana (SI), 18–19 March 2024

Special thanks to Ji Youn Kang, Justin Bennett, Otso Aho, Miloš Vojtěchovský, Csaba Hajnóczy, Michal Kindernay