Memu Earth Lab x Musicity
Research in Residence Program Workshop Series
date: july 27th & 28th, 2019



In July 2019, Musicity was asked to attend a series of Workshops at the Memu Earth Lab in Hokkaido. The focus of the research was to look at the complex interrelationships of sound, space and the body. This was undertaken both internally and externally for a more situated environmental approach. The research documented here is in two parts, representing both focused research on room acoustics and music, and psychophysiological responses to sound and space.


Part One: Music
Background: Musicians have an intuitive sense of space: Listening to the space around them as they make sound, musicians respond to returning acoustic signals by subtly modulating a performance, generating a unique work that is entirely suited to the space holding a performance. This is a historic given, in that over the years, musicians have adapted performances to suit architectural spaces gently changing the way that a piece is received, and conversely subtly changing the way that spaces are designed. However, it is getting much rarer to see a musician or composer writing music in a space that will hold the music. Studio technology has opened up endless opportunities for differing spaces, or no spaces at all. The role of architecture in the creative process is diminishing.

The relationship between music and architecture has been shaped over the millennia by a series of complex causal relationships between composer, musician, instrument, space, and the ‘emotional responses*’ of listeners. The sounds and spaces that arise out of these relationships form a continuity over time that has informed the way we listen to music and the way we design rooms to accommodate it. However, the development of acoustic theory in the early twentieth century has given rise to a series of rigid conventions in acoustic design, affecting both musical and architectural composition, and considerably slowing down the mutual co-evolution of both.

(Emotional response can be studied through physiological responses in the human body. This is commonly done through a variety of means, heart rate, EEG response, and electrodermal activity in skin, known as Skin Conductance Response (SCR), see second tests below for more information).

For the Musicity project, we seek to express these conventions, and use technology to simulate specific spaces for musicians to respond to acoustically. This allows musicians and composers the ability to write for the acoustic of a specific space, and generate a unique piece of music that is intrinsically linked to the site that generated the work.

The impulse responses generated by the workshop attendees are available here for open download. We encourage artists to use these to develop their own compositions based on the site and its architecture. We encourage the sharing of these tracks to broaden the understanding of what music works well in spaces not necessarily designed as spaces for music.
Read More Here

Part Two: Psychophysiological Response
The aim of the second part of this study is to investigate the perception of sounds in space at an “unconscious” level showing Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) reactivity to any positive or negative auditory stimuli. This is done by measuring physiological activation in response to sounds accompanied by perceptual appraisals.
Read More Here

Nick Luscombe [Founder & Director, Musicity Global / BBC Broadcaster + DJ / Field Recordist]
Paul Bavister [Flanagan Lawrence / UCL / Audialsense]

Hemant Singh
Sam King
James Greer (Sound)

Naoki Wagatsuma
Yu Morishita

Memu X Musicity Workshop July, 2019

Nick Luscombe [Founder & Director, Musicity Global / BBC Broadcaster + DJ / Field Recordist]
Yu Morishita [Memu Earth Lab Project Lecturer, IIS,The University of Tokyo]
James Greer [Musicity Global / Field Recordist+ Composer]

Paul Bavister [Flanagan Lawrence / UCL / Audialsense]
Sam King [Sam King Film]
Hiroki Kobayashi [Kobayashi Lab, The University of Tokyo]
Yukiko Matsunaga [Matsunaga Lab, The University of Tokyo]
Ken Nishikawa [Filmmaker, Composer, Radio + TV Director]
Yuta Sasaki [Kobayashi Lab, The University of Tokyo]
Hemant Singh [Filmmaker, Producer]
Miho Tajima [Artist, Sound Artist]
Hande Unlu [Memu Earth Lab, The University of Tokyo]
+ Memu Earth Hotel Staff