Presentation of Electroacoustic Works on Multi-Speaker Systems
5 Questions to Kevin Austin
1. Is multi-speaker presentation an essential element in composition?
2. Are there circumstances in which you prefer stereo or multi-channel mediums?
I prefer multi-speaker in all situations. I once did multi-speaker with a cassette deck, two amplifiers and 4 speakers (no mixer). I adjusted the levels of the amplifiers directly. The audience loved it.
3. What factors are important with regards to speaker placement and configurations?
The acoustics of the space and where the listeners are going to be, and the number (and type) of speakers available.
4. Do you have ideas about specific types of sounds and their placement in space?
No. It is (all) contextual, although I keep in mind that voice presented from behind has a very different effect from voice coming from the front. The same holds true to a lesser extent for 'natural foreground sounds'.
5. To what extent do you view diffusion as performance?
Sound projection (I don't like the term "diffusion") can be simple or elaborate. I have done pieces with no preparation, and many with very little preparation. A couple of pieces have had more than 40 hours of work put into their presentation. The more 'detailed' the piece, the more preparation time demanded. I have also done projection where I have altered the entire shape of the piece. It will also depend on how widely one wants to define 'performance' as another level (or type) from 'presentation'. This holds true much more when doing sound projection of someone else's piece – less so with my own work.
The object of (most) sound projection needs to be in service to the work being presented.