Sonic Writing - Researching the Materialities of Music

The Sonic Writing research project investigates the material conditions of musical practice, tracing genealogies through ancient Greek, medieval and early modernist thinking in order to build a grounded platform to understand future technologies of music making. The project began as a two-year (Feb 2016-Feb 2018) AHRC funded research programme that resulted in a monograph that was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019. The research programme involved diverse activities, such as symposia, workshops and a conference, with international partners: STEIM, IRCAM, C4DM, CMC and CNMAT.

The project explores work and practices using new technologies for musical expression. Through tracing the historical conditions of material and symbolic design in in three interconnected strands of inscription - instruments, notation, and phonography - the project studies how established techniques are translated into new methods of musical composition and performance in digital musical media.

This research maps and clarify a complex landscape of current developments in music technology research where boundaries between creating and listening - and between instruments and media - are disappearing. New inventions are uprooting traditional approaches to the writing, playing and sharing of music, and this needs to be studied from a media theoretical perspective. The Sonic Writing project investigates how past techniques and design patterns found in the areas of instrument design, musical notation and sound recording are translated into digital media practices of musical expression.

Thor Magnusson is a professor in Music at the University of Sussex and a founding member of the Experimental Music Technologies Lab His work focusses on the impact digital technologies have on musical creativity and practice, explored through software development, composition and performance. He is the co-founder of ixi audio, and has developed audio software, systems of generative music composition, written computer music tutorials and created two musical live coding environments. As part of ixi, he has taught workshops in creative music coding and sound installations, and given presentations, performances and visiting lectures at diverse art institutions, conservatories, and universities internationally.

(c) 2016-2020 Þórhallur Magnússon, Thorhallur Magnusson, Thor Magnusson