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Amandine Pras: "Evaluation of spatial reproduction for live mixed music"

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  • Seminar
When Nov 25, 2009
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall (C-209), Schulich School of Music, McGill University, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal QC
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During the lecture, I will present the recording and spatialization choices for two mixed music performances. Mixed music performances bring together acoustic, amplified, pre-recorded and electronic sounds. To emphasize the diversity of these sources, spatial reproduction systems with loudspeakers positioned around the audience are typically used instead of stereophonic reproduction. However, in a concert hall with traditional stage representation, loudspeakers around the audience may be perceived as too localized and have a detrimental effect on sound envelopment.

I conducted a case study in 2005 with the piece Six Pianos written by Steve Reich and performed by a single pianist, Aurélien Richard, playing one part live amongst five other pre-recorded parts. To design the sound system for the performance, I took into consideration the structure and the composition of the piece, as well as the performer’s requests. To optimize the sensation of envelopment, I simulated the placement of 8 loudspeakers (4 on stage, 2 above and 2 behind the audience) in the concert hall with the software CATT-acoustic prior to the installation. The performance was presented three times with different mixes, in the dark except for a small lamp on the piano. After the performance, 65 people from the audience filled out a questionnaire about their general appraisal and the localization of the different parts of the piece. Fifty-one participants were unable to localize loudspeakers except the ones on stage that were visible. Furthermore, participants reported that the sound was enveloping, mainly for the crescendo at the end of the piece, when all 8 speakers were being used. These findings suggest that the loudspeakers were not perceived as localized sources while providing a strong sensation of envelopment, which validates the simulation method.

Finally, I will present the spatialization and recording choices made for the performance of New York Counterpoint for clarinet and tape, also written by Steve Reich. This piece will be performed next year by the clarinetist and CIRMMT member Kaïs Demers from Montréal.


Currently in the PhD Program at McGill University, Amandine Pras is investigating the interaction between record producers, sound engineers and musicians.  She has been working as a research assistant with Professor Catherine Guastavino (School of Information Studies, McGill University, CIRMMT) since October 2007, conducting listening tests on spatial hearing and sound quality evaluations. This fall, Amandine is teaching Multimedia Systems in the Masters Program of the School of Information Studies. She graduated with honours from the Music and Sound Recording program (FSMS) of the Paris Conservatory in April 2006. After graduation, Amandine worked as a music producer and sound engineer in different institutions in France (IRCAM, Le Fresnoy) and in Canada (the Banff Centre, Alberta). 




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