James Bagshaw (University of Hull)


The spatial production domain of Higher Order Ambisonics has the potential to effectively disseminate spatial music, providing a flexible listening format through an accessible technical framework. Surround music has existed primarily in the form of ‘5.1’ channel-based surround for a number of years, with limited commercial success. This failure, in part, is due to the nature of works released in surround: up-scaled versions of classic stereo productions, to be listened to by select audiences with the technological capabilities to do so.

Through compositional research and experimentation, and in efforts to incorporate spatiality as an integral compositional component, this paper discusses the development of considered spatial strategies, defining holistic aesthetic approaches to ambisonic music production. Moving beyond the simple panning and placement of mono and stereo sound materials, proposed definitions of ambisonic space are discussed; an immediate listening space reserved for fixed distance placement; and external space to describe sounds emerging from beyond the immediate listening boundaries. A consolidation of descriptive terms attempts to define translatable spatial strategies: Emergence, Decay and Departure; Folding and Unfolding; and Elevation Gesture, through reflection on a number of working case studies in a structured analysis of musical soundfields.

The proposed presentation would incorporate the use of the University of West London’s ‘3D Audio’ speaker system, with a direct playback of higher-order ambisonic audio examples in relation to the discussed strategies. This, in conjunction with visual examples, aims to effectively describe and discuss an academic framework for spatial analysis, deriving terminology from both the worlds of conventional record production, and electroacoustic/acousmatic composition.