Spatial Sound


The Residency Programme 2021 at the Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest, Hungary, calls for creators from a variety of disciplines to submit proposals for the development of new pedagogical approaches that make use of spatial sound technologies and listening-based practices.

Read more about the application guidelines ︎

Submission Deadline:
August 31st, 2020 23:59 PM


June 2020


Alifiyah Imani
Paul Oomen

Interdisciplinary Approaches
to Sound Pedagogy and
Sound Based Education

The Residency Programme 2021 at the Spatial Sound Institute calls for creators from a variety of disciplines to submit proposals for the development of new pedagogical approaches that make use of spatial sound technologies and listening-based practices. Our emphasis is on how to educate young people — the future generation that will inhabit our world —  through conscious engagement with sound; ways of interpreting our reality and experiences through listening and as a result, being able to engage more intelligently with the world around us; a deeper connection with self, other and the world that might arise from listening, to help us find meaningful solutions to the challenges we face globally.

With this overture, we introduce the idea of the interdisciplinary as a modality for integrating sound into new approaches to learning, and in constituting knowledge from the interactions between different fields, to rethink existing philosophies and to excavate the old and new by means of the practice of listening.

Learning, experience, influences, environment forges the very notion of pedagogy - a primordial contemplation, that in our present time offers ever more cogent possibilities to question and catalyze prevailing cultural paradigms. As such, the field of sound is no exception, in fact it makes a profoundly moving case for creating new education systems as it dives into other ways of knowing and being - and through that, rethinking ideologies, art forms and scientific methods. In this way, understanding through sound opens up to a multitude of disciplines, with self-evident links to music and engineering for instance, but intersecting and expanding, even if fragmentarily, with the concentrated efforts of many voices and sociocultural forces that are calling for inclusion, thus opening to a broader approach to sound that draws on different aspects of human existence and experience.

In Anthropology for example, the evolutionary nature of our primates' language, culture, environments, biology and behaviour are studied. Over the past decade, as we see this discipline epistemologically engage with sound, there is a substantively deeper and more critical understanding emerging of how perceptions and technological innovations arise from the domains of culture, the environment and history.

Through research in Archeo-acoustics, a discipline that uses acoustic modelling, prototyping and analysis to interpret and analyze ancient structures, artifacts and objects, we are provided complex and nuanced understandings of our origins and our heritage through auditory communication. Such lines of research can imbricate the relation between anthropology, architecture and archaeology to the sonorous, and explore a number of natural, ancient, constructed and altered spaces for example, painted Paleolithic Caves (Errede 2005-2017, Reznikoff 2008), mosques, temples, churches and cathedrals (Guillebaud & Lavandier 2019, Wright 1989), concert halls and theater spaces (Blesser & Salter 2006).

Much of the work that highlights the importance of listening in our understanding of the self and the environment, lends concepts to facts and models from the scientific domain, specifically through Psycho-acoustics and Physio-acoustics concerned with how humans interpret different sounds. Researched through the understanding of the anatomy and the physiology of the body, it investigates the complexity of the ear’s formation (Békésy 1960), the pathways it forms with the brain and other organs and how these internal and external structures correlate (Tomatis 1987).

Whereas speculating on the future, there is an increasing recognition and support of wave theory applications, experiments and hypotheses in a variety of fields that illuminate the fundamental role of sound in studies of Consciousness, Neuroscience, Quantum-physics but also Sociology, Political science and Economics.

In all of these constructs furthering our understanding through sound, and by means of deeper listening, a multidisciplinary approach is important, whereas each field has its own methodology and its own emphasis. 

As we trace the history of technological inventions in the field of sound-reproduction, a deeper and more analytical understanding emerges about the relationships between sound, space, technology, expression, and culture. Pierre Schaeffer had his decisive moment in the 1950s experimenting tirelessly with musique concrète (Schaeffer, 1952) characterizing the sound object and acousmatic thinking to assess the dimensions of recordings, influencing historical and contemporary views of soundscape studies (Schafer 1977), postwar experimental musical styles and the sound arts in Europe and the Americas.

And given the way various levels of recording practices further built into the foundations of cinematic sound, spatial music, composition and architectural acoustics, the importance of understanding the world through sound has been since long understood by the passions of charismatic inventors, engineers, architects and listeners. Works such as Symphony No. 4 (C. Ives 1910 – mid-1920s), Poème Electronique (E. Varèse, 1958), Gesang der Jünglinge (K. Stockhausen, 1955 -1956), Hibikki Hana Ma (I. Xenakis, 1969-1970), Orient-Occident (I. Xenakis, 1960) to name a few, accessed electroacoustical, architectural, engineering and technical possibilities to explore and extend the boundaries of listener-centered spatial sound experiences, and that further challenged the influence of the interdisciplinary.

Other crucial engagements in auditory culture history beyond the dominant rhetoric of Western technological determinism argues for and identified with the sonic as swathed in critical and political theory whose discussions and struggles raise questions about identity, indigeneity, power dynamics, democracy and an exhaustive remapping that requires a category of its own (Steingo & Sykes 2019).

From 2015 onwards, the streams of investigation at the Spatial Sound Institute has contributed to the study of sound and spaces exploring models, theories, experiences and phenomenons that frame such enquiries to contexts of cultural production and as a continuing provocation into various interweavings of the sound experience within possible theoretical and applied interrogations.

Such networks we believe provide sharing of information and insight across a variety of disciplines, where the sonic can cast from resonating caverns that take us back to the earliest form of survival to innovations in spatial frameworks, from nature to evolution and ecological domains, from science fiction to science fact, from social-cultural and intersectional modes of thinking that move away from prevailing narratives to the role of physiology and psychology studies in neuroscience, from physical to digital to virtual dimensions and back as well as other possibly unknown areas that require attention in pedagogy - that is, to offer study of and interaction with sound to future generations in a meaningful way and as an integral aspect of human development.

We believe this will be ever so important in twenty-first century life, and thus in the lives of our children and their children, as an endless stream and a barrage of information flows through our eyes and our brains at touchscreen speed. The environments we have evolved to live in have altered our ability to listen (Connell 2017), the primal sense that shrinks to the demands of increasingly damaging environments and habits where sound reduces to entertainment, manipulation and exploitation.  Instead of enriching our well-being and mental life, the role of sound is ambiguous and counterintuitive in our augmented virtual worlds that propagates overstimulating visual matters, causing defects to our spatial cognition, sensory assaults that have changed interpersonal and social dynamics, our natural environments and the listening development of our young learners.

In our work, sound and listening means to place the attentive ear, the return to the body, the senses and embodiment, to elevate and enrich the human scale. Set in a matrix of these relations and shifting borders, listening plays a key role to understand what is happening within us and outside us, as it makes us aware and traverse through space, evoking physical, mental and emotional states, highlighting perceptual varieties, and the understanding this illuminates on how to construct and develop our environments and the relationships that we create with others and ourselves.

In the residency season 2021, we draw attention to concepts that are aimed to make young people sensitive to ideas through an active participation and activation of sound in space. We welcome specifically those projects that highlight the role of spatial sound in new pedagogical approaches. The questions this brings up, in our view, can only be defined when there is an exchange of knowledge and ideas between a variety of disciplines involved with sound. The ways in which young people will learn to listen at present, will gravely influence our future ecology, geo-social contexts and the typologies of art to take on new meaning as valid ephemeral artefacts in the larger mediated world in which we live.


Blesser, Barry, and Linda-Ruth Salter. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? : Experiencing Aural Architecture. Cambridge (Massachusetts) ; London, The Mit Press, 2006.

Connell, John. “Learning to Listen Again: An Essay and Lecture.” TXD Idea Book, 2017

Georg Von Békésy, and Ernest Glen Wever. Experiments in Hearing. New York, Acoustical Society Of America Through The American Institute Of Physics By Arrangement With Mcgraw-Hill Book Co, 1989.

Guillebaud, Christine, and Catherine Lavandier . Worship Sound Spaces: Architecture, Acoustics and Anthropology. Routledge, 2020.

Prof. S. Errede, Pre-Historic Music and Art in Paleolithic Caves (Department of Physics, The University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, Illinois 2005–2017).

Reznikoff, Iegor. Sound resonance in prehistoric times: A study of Paleolithic painted caves and rocks. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 123. 3603. 10.1121/1.2934773. 2008

R Murray Schafer. The Soundscape : The Tuning of the World. Rochester, Vt., Destiny Books; [United States, 1993.

Schaeffer, P., North, C., & Dack, J. In search of a concrete music. University of California Press. 2012. Pg.8.

Steingo, Gavin, and Jim Sykes. Remapping Sound Studies. Durham, Duke University Press, 2019.

Tomatis, Alfred, and Roberta Prada. The Ear and the Voice. Lanham, Md., Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Wright C. Music and Ceremony at Notre Dame of Paris, 500–1550. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1989.