Sound + Environment 2017

Art | Science | Listening | Collaboration

29 June – 2 July 2017

University of Hull

Sound + Environment 2017 is a four day conference bringing together artists and scientists to explore the ways that sound can deepen our understanding of environments. For example, recent developments in the field of ecoacoustics are proving fruitful in assessing ecosystem change. Sound is also increasingly used to monitor built structures and to inform urban design. We can use sound for scientific and artistic exploration, to inform and expand our knowledge of environments and our relationships to the world around us.

What can we learn from each other? Sound can inform a range of innovative interventions and solutions to problems. Through exploring scientific and artistic approaches together, we hope to engage with sound in order to create complementary ways of investigating, understanding, and taking action.

Sound + Environment 2017 aims to nurture meaningful collaborations which can generate new insights. The programme will feature paper sessions and panels; workshops; public performances; installations, and interventions.

Keynote speakers will include Chris Watson and Leah Barclay. Please see below for further details about speakers and the call for contributions.

The conference will see the launch of a specially commissioned surround-sound installation from Chris Watson tracing the course of the Humber River: ‘Trent Falls to Spurn Point’. A number of other sound installations and performances will be featured in collaboration with Hull UK City of Culture and the PRS New Music Biennial.

Sound + Environment 2017 is hosted by the School of Arts in collaboration with the Institute of Esturine and Coastal Studies, the Institute of Energy & Environment and the Institute of Culture, Place & Policy, at the University of Hull.

Venues include:

  • Middleton Hall: The University of Hull’s newly refurbished (£9.5 million) concert venue and cinema space, complete with computer-controlled panels for variable acoustics.
  • Gulbenkian Centre: The University of Hull’s Anthony Minghella Studio is a fully equipped performance space for hosting installations. The Donald Roy Theatre will be hosting Chris Watson’s ‘Trent Falls to Spurn Point’.
  • HEARO (Hull Electroacoustic Resonance Orchestra): High quality sound playback will be available using our 30 loudspeaker orchestra, allowing for immersive multi-channel presentation, including ambisonics.
  • Stage @ The Dock: We are exploring possibilities with this new amphitheatre space in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary, opposite Hull’s iconic aquarium, The Deep.
  • The City of Hull and the University of Hull Campus: We are open to proposals which integrate with spaces around the city and university campus, including soundwalks and augmented reality apps. A number of smaller spaces on the university campus will be available for installations and workshops, as well as a number of lecture spaces.


chriswatson-1Chris Watson was a founding member of the influential Sheffield based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance composer and sound recordist Watson specialises creating spatial sound installations which feature a strong sense and spirit of place.

His television work includes many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996, and as the location sound recordist on the BBC’s series ‘Frozen Planet’ which also won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012).

Watson has recorded and featured in many BBC Radio 4 productions including; ‘The Ice Mountain, ‘The Reed Bed’, ‘Jules Verne’s Volcano’, ‘The Ditch’, ‘The Listeners’ and ‘The Wire’ which won him the Broadcasting Press Guild’s Broadcaster of The Year Award (2012). His music is regularly featured on the BBC Radio 3 programme ‘Late Junction’.

His installations have been commissioned by international galleries and festivals such as, Sheffield Millennium Gallery, Opera North in Leeds, The National Gallery, London, The Louvre, Paris and currently at the Aichi Triennial in Japan.

Version 4Dr Leah Barclay is a multi-award winning Australian sound artist, composer and researcher working at the intersection of art, science and technology. She specialises in electroacoustic music, acoustic ecology and emerging fields of biology exploring environmental patterns and changes through sound. Her work has been commissioned, performed and exhibited to wide acclaim internationally by organisations including UNESCO, Ear to the Earth, Streaming Museum, Al Gore’s Climate Reality and the IUCN. She creates complex sonic environments, immersive live performances, interactive installations and augmented reality experiences that draw attention to changing climates and fragile ecosystems. She is currently the director of Biosphere Soundscapes and a postdoctoral research fellow at Griffith University in Australia where she is leading a portfolio of research in acoustic ecology and climate change.


Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Activities during the conference:

• Trent Falls to Spurn Point

Trent Falls to Spurn Point is a project created by Chris Watson, co-commissioned by Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and the University of Hull. Chris is an artist who has deep ties to the North of England and who has travelled the world collecting sounds. He is one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena – in Watson’s words ‘putting a microphone where you can’t put your ears’. The project is a theatrical sound installation that takes the audience on a journey from the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Trent using sound, space and light as an evocation. The sound installation for the Gulbenkian Centre  at the University of Hull uses a wide range of spatial sound techniques, particularly ambisonic sound production. It will create a sonic arc of the Humber, sweeping above and below the surface, past a mix of remote wilderness and 21st century technology to Spurn Point where the sounds of the estuary mix and merge with the voices of the North Sea.

• Sound Installations during the PRS New Music Biennial:

– An ambisonic sound Installation from artist Jason Singh exploring the voice of Hull.
– Kinetic sound sculptures by Ray Lee integrate with soundscapes of Hull city centre.
– Installation inspired by Spurn Point from Gavin Bryars in Holy Trinity Church.

Ten Worlds

The Humber Bridge takes centre stage as Opera North turns this iconic structure into a living, breathing piece of music composed by Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and collaborators Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset.

The deep sounds of the bridge are captured by Hull-based sound artist Jez Riley French and performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, all experienced through headphones.

The walk across the bridge is transformed by glorious music and otherworldly soundscape to become both an epic journey and an intimate whisper in your ear.

Favourite Sounds of Hull:

What is your favourite sound in the city where you live – or where you grew up, studied, worked, fell in love, played football or rugby league – or simply spent some time?  Sonic artist Peter Cusack has been asking these questions since 1998 – and building an endlessly fascinating archive by inviting replies to this question in London, Beijing, Prague, Berlin, Birmingham, Manchester and Southend-on-Sea. The result is a series of intriguing and often surprising results, revealing both the city of the ear, and the significant role that everyday sounds play in our lives.

‘Favourite Sounds of Hull’ is a further step in a journey that encourages the local community as well as those who know and love Hull, to identify and share with the rest of the world, their favourite sounds of their city – a project devised especially for Hull, running from the autumn of 2016 and throughout the City of Culture year.

Curated by Peter Cusack, and produced by Serious in association with the School of Arts of the University of Hull, the public are encouraged to submit their favourite sounds throughout the year and these will be recorded and made available for all to hear at various live events during 2017. It is also designed to complement “Mind on the Run” the year–long celebration of the Hull’s obscurely influential artist, the composer and sonic explorer Basil Kirchin.


Call for Papers, Workshops and Artistic Works

The theme of the conference relates to works that reflect (but are not limited to) the following areas:

• Acoustic Ecology
• Acoustic Space and psychoacoustics
• Acoustic Communities
• Place-related Composition (soundscape, electroacoustic, acoustic, improvisation)
• Creative Intervention
• Sense of Place
• Identity
• Social, Cultural and Environmental Sustainability
• Heritage and Memory
• Ecoacoustics
• Environmental aesthetics
• Environmental politics (policy/legislation)
• Soundscape Ecology
• Bioacoustics
• Structural monitoring
• Psychogeography
• Urban design and planning
• Environmental Health
• Experience and Phenomenolgy
• Sonic Perception
• Sound Art
• Audio Archives

Submission Guidelines:

Original contributions are being accepted for papers, workshop proposals, and creative works. Please note, we can only programme papers or works where at least one of the authors has registered for the conference.

• Papers: We are seeking abstracts for paper presentations (20 mins presentation + 10 mins discussion). Please download the Papers Call Template and include your abstract (Max 500 words). Save the file to include the names of presenters. Then upload the file to Papers Submissions.
• Workshops: Please download the Workshops Call Template and include your proposal. Save the file to include the names of presenters. Then upload the file to Workshops Submissions.
• Creative Works: We are seeking proposals for performance pieces, installations, interventions, and other modes of presentation. Please download the Creative Call Template and include your proposal. Save the file to include the names of presenters. Then insert this in a folder along with associated media files and zip the folder (saved to include the names of presenters). Upload the zip file to Creative Works Submissions. For multichannel works, please also include a stereo reduction of the work along with mono stems for each individual channel. There is no length limit for performance works, but pieces not exceeding 15 minutes are encouraged.


There will be opportunities to publish in a special issue of  the journal ‘Sonic Ideas/Ideas Sonicas‘ (ISSN 2317-9694) published in both English and Spanish, through CMMAS (Centro Mexicano para La Música et las Artes Sonoras) available online with ISBN. Opportunities to publish in ‘Interference: A Journal of Audio Culture‘ (ISSN 2009-3578) supported by Trinity College Dublin and The University of Ulster’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute are also being explored.



Submission Deadline:                          30 January 2017

Extended submissions deadline:      9 February 2017

Notification of Acceptance:                31 March 2017

Early Bird Registration Opens:          31 March 2017

Standard Registration Opens:           20 April 2017

Conference Dates:                                 29 June – 2 July 2017

Registration Fees

Early Bird Registration: £100 (institutionally funded) / £40 (student/non-institutionally funded)

Standard Registration: £150 (institutionally funded) / £75 (student/non-institutionally funded)


Organising Committee

  • Dr Rob Mackay (Director) – University of Hull
  • Dr Matt Barnard (Co-Director) – University of Hull
  • Jez Riley French (Co-Director) – Freelance Artist
  • Tariq Emam (PhD Researcher) – University of Hull
  • Kathryn Queen (Administrator) – University of Hull

Reviews Committee

Matt Barnard (Lecturer in Music, University of Hull)
Matthew Burtner
(Professor of Composition and Computer Technologies, Director of EcoSono, University of Virginia)
Joel Chadabe
(Founder of Ear to Earth, President of Electronic Music Foundation)
John Drever
(Professor of Acoustic Ecology, Goldsmiths – London)
Almo Farina
(Professor of Ecology and President of the International Society for Ecoacoustics, University of Urbino, Italy)
Jez Riley French
(Freelance Artist, Hull)
Lauren Hayes
(Assistant Professor in Sound Studies, Arizona State University)
Cathy Lane
(Professor of Sound Art and Composition, Co-Director of CRiSAP)
Eric Leonardson
(Composer and Sound Designer at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, President of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology)
Rob Mackay
(Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Hull)
Roger Malina
(Professor of Arts and Technology, and Professor of Physics, University of Texas, and Executive Director of Leonardo)
Annie Mahtani
(Lecturer in Electroacoustic Composition, University of Birmingham)
Brona Martin
(Freelance Composer/Sound Artist and Researcher, UK)  
Stuart McLelland
(Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Hull)
David Monacchi
(Professor of Electroacoustics at LEMS-SPACE, Conservatory “G Rossini” of Pesaro, Italy)
Katharine Norman
(Composer, writer, coder, sound artist, UK)
Linda O’Keefe
(Sound artist and lecturer at Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art)
Simon Oliver
(Lecturer in Marine Ecology, University of Chester)
Aki Pasoulas
(Lecturer in Music and Audio Arts, University of Kent)  
Louise Roberts
(Researcher in Marine Acoustics, University of Hull)
Phil Rubini
(Professor of Acoustic Engineering, University of Hull)
Grant Smith
(Sound artist and co-director of Sound Camp, UK)
Matt Stone
(Field Ornithologist, University of Hull)




The University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX, United Kingdom


  • University of Hull
  • WFAE (World Forum for Acoustic Ecology)
  • ISE (International Society of Ecoacoustics)
  • Hull UK City of Culture 2017
  • PRS New Music Biennial
  • CMMAS (Centro Mexicano para La Música et las Artes Sonoras)
  • HEARO (Hull Electroacoustic Resonance Orchestra)

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