Building on the approaches above, I have engaged with the architecture inside music, and vice versa. One example of this is my work Vokal-De-Konstruktion (2018). The goal was to make the structure that is inherent in the music possible to experience physically. In this work the sonic bodily interaction with the space as described earlier in this text was explored with a choir. While the arranged music travels through the space, the architecture of the space creates new sonic forms through its transformation of sound. With and between these sonic forms new spaces are created.




Janet Cardiff’s reading of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium in the installation Forty Part Motet (2001) also offers an alternative experience of the music. The composed space by Tallis is formed into a space that can be entered. In this sound art installation Janet Cardiff explored voices in space but using loudspeakers rather than actual live performers (I discuss this piece in comparison to Vokal-De-Konstruktion here). A similar approach to the creation of space within existing music can be seen in Susan Philipsz’ site-specific sound installations. When I experienced her Part File Score at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2014, I was moved by the spaces for contemplation that Philipsz created in her installation based on music by composer Hanns Eisler and his life. The instruments were recorded independently and projected individually on 24 loudspeakers. Musical scores and FBI files were overlapping on the walls of the space. All carefully chosen elements conversed with each other and engaged the visitors on their own terms. What is common to these works is that the sonic space they create is bound to the physical position of the loudspeakers. The fluidity inside the music structure through de-construction and separation is therefore ‘fixed’ by the way it is experienced. In contrast to my spatial sound performances, the sounds are not created in order to interact with their surroundings, neither with the audience nor with the architectural space. They make the space inside the music audible and accessible through the new arrangement, in an architectural space, but the music concealed inside the space does not get revealed. Even though the spaces are conceptually considered, they are not regarded as co-creators.



Working with the physicality of a spatial musical composition shows possibilities for fluid spaces in constant change. A spatial-musical (de-, re-, neo-) composition is an interactive three-dimensional or rather four-dimensional (including time) network. Temporary spaces are constructed inside this art form. It embraces us. One enters a spatial musical landing and can move inside of it. The enveloping acoustic sonic scenography creates a physical experience of one’s own body in relation.



The exploration of the music inside space is probably as old as music itself. Because spaces react to our presence sonically, humans have probably always sonically interacted with the acoustics of natural and constructed spaces. Our ancestors used the acoustics of caves for dramatic experiences. Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter suggest that cave drawings found at prehistoric sites were deliberately related to the acoustics of their location (Blesser and Salter, 2009, p.75). Large, enclosed spaces were used for social gatherings long before cathedrals were built. Even though their acoustic qualities were not the reason why large churches were built, and were an unintended consequence of the desire to demonstrate power or devotion, the acoustics influenced the music that was created there. The acoustics that gave inspiration, however, were also a reason why music became stylised and limited in order to “fit with the acoustics of those spaces” (Blesser and Salter, 2009, p.92).



The music inside spaces has been approached by many artists before me. I will mention a few that are relevant for the contextualization of my work. Even though Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179) did not compose for a specific space, the contemporary interpreter of her work Maria Jonas wrote in an essay that the overtones that are hidden in the monody become audible in the architecture of that time (Caspers et al., 2021, p.97). The echo played an important role in the musical distribution of the words. In the 16th century Giovanni Gabrieli composed for St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The double-choir lofts suggested to the composer the placement of the instrumentalists. The echo of the resonant space became a part of the music and the musicians echo each other, back and forth. Both examples relate to the reverberation of the space, to the big picture. In my work the interaction of the instrumentalists with the space can be explored in more detail as the instrumentalists are flexible in the space. When the audience moves inside the performance, the spatial sound performance is not experienced from one perspective. Instead, the perspective shifts and the sonic scenography can be entered, and sonic details can be explored.




Iannis Xenakis, for instance, a composer who was also an architect, approached music from its shared capacity with architecture to surround the listener (Philips Pavilion for Expo '58). He also explored possibilities for dynamic space through music and he experimented with ways to immerse the audience in sound by, for example, placing the musicians among the audience in Terretektorh (1966). His work, however, is steeped in modernism, with a formal and mathematical approach to space. Xenakis operated in an abstract and formal Cartesian space without much concern for societal, historical, and geographical dynamics. My work overcomes this restriction by engaging local performers in the creative site-sensitive process. Aspects of place orientation, which include social, historical and geographical contexts, are integrated by the collaboration with the space and by encouraging individuality in the performers’ presence. The tender musical structures of the ephemeral scenographies are only experienced if supported by human presence and attention. It is the individual perception, the physical sensing of sound and imagination, that allows the sounds to form a musical space and the experience of a space inside music.



A bit more familiar with our surrounding, we can now bring our attention to sounds that are present in the space. It may be that the architecture creates those sounds with small openings that let the wind whistle through, or with loose fabrics that slide along the wall when one moves past them. Maybe the architecture has a ventilation system or other electrical fittings, or has machinery integrated that creates sounds. Or there are birds on the roof that randomly move around and scratch the tiles so that we become strongly aware of the roof above our head. Momentarily, we may be sonically more connected to the outside world again. This may initiate memories of how we saw the birds outside before we entered the space. Is this the music inside space?




When we knock on a wooden frame, or scratch along a concrete wall, we hear the materials of the space. Some areas away from our point of activation may be excited by our action. The way the space reacts to the sound gives us an insight into its dimensions and how parts of the space relate to our physical position within it. Different vibrations can be triggered and may cause sonic expressions that spread through the space. These aspects are similar to what we can experience when we play an instrument - except that we are usually outside of the instrument. The structures of the static architecture, like the different body shapes of instruments, define how sounds will be supported here. The way the sound can move through the space, and how it is reflected and absorbed, is defined here. Its movement also suggests its temporality. This temporality plays an important role in the understanding of how the music inside space can develop. The potential for site-sensitive musical creations reveals itself. Sounds can be elicited from the materials that the architecture is made of through different ways of activation. Some materials will demonstrate more of their ability to alter sounds projected towards them when one is very close, while other sonic interactions may require a certain distance. This is also dependent on the frequency one uses to activate the reaction of the architectural material. Higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths, lower frequencies have longer waves, affecting the way they interact with surfaces within the space. The reactions of some architectural material or shapes may go against our expectations. The multiplexity reveals itself further the more familiar we become with it. As the understanding of these interactions becomes clearer and the mode of investigation becomes more precise, the openings for imagination become bigger. The differences that can be explored through embodied listening and sounding become greater. The area for exploration and imagination opens up as the learning about the interactions becomes more particular.


When we want to explore the musicality that the space holds, we can integrate the anticipation of certain spatial transformations of sound in our creative process based on physics and on practical experience. Sonic expressions can be altered through the frequency-dependent bending of sound waves, for example. Most sounds are made up of several frequencies. As they are bent differently, the structure of the sound can be changed in their interaction with the architecture (see The Body of Sound in the dictionary and book). In this sense spaces have abilities in their static architectural structure that co-creates musical expressions through respondent selection and distribution.


My music is composed acoustically-spatially for live performance. It has the goal of finding not only spatial expression in music but also of composing space inside of and within music. In this context, space does not mean emptiness, a gap, the Japanese ma or silence. It is a space that is structured by relations, bodies and their expression, by movement and spatial placement of sounds.




In my practice of using Spaces as Voice Teachers (2019), it becomes clear how unique spaces are in their (acoustic) feedback. The solid structure of the architecture and the spaces that the architecture frames are selective. They support some sonic expressions more than others. Simultaneously, they control the temporal existence of different sounds. In Spaces as Voice Teachers the different spaces stimulated the further exploration of certain vocal expressions more than others. Site-specificity turns here into site-determinacy, as an understanding of the music that the architecture holds space for, which is the priority in my artistic expression. (See Spaces as Voice Teachers)



I see here parallels to the work of Alvin Lucier. Lucier creates both music inside space and space inside music. He engages with sound, architecture, acoustics, and perception. In his I Am Sitting in a Room (1969) he starts from the investigation of the music inside the space by recording his voice in the space. By playing the sound that was recorded in the space back to the space and recording it over and over again, he more and more reveals the music inside the space while the sonic traces of the space become the space inside the music. His approach is closely informed by acoustics and audio engineering knowledge and research. He makes this knowledge experienceable for the audience, but he does not engage with the communal aspects and the lived dimensions. The latter are important to me and my work.



Pauline Oliveros also finds music inside spaces and spaces inside music. Her Deep Listening (1988) is a spatial listening and a bodily listening. Similarly to my practice, her exercises engage with the space and the way our listening and sounding relates to it. Pauline Oliveros interacted with spaces and created possibilities for transforming the space through sounding. She saw “space as a musical partner” and she improvised with her accordion and in collaboration with other instrumentalists acoustically in real spaces (Oliveros, 2006). In this way, she deeply investigated the music inside space. The atmosphere her work radiates is meditative and aims to stimulate wellbeing. Even though the involvement of all senses is important in my work, it is not as introspective. The ways in which the performances are shared is active and explorative on the performers’ and the audience’s side.



In my work the space inside music is created by the sonic scenography. I understand it as a flexible sonic space inside a fixed space which co-creates the sonic space and in this way simultaneously reveals the music inside space. The performances are informed by the people, the performer as well as the audience, who are involved in the project as much as by the space. Their musical capacities are explored in collaboration with the space, and define the building material for the sonic scenographies (dictionary).


This text explores how we animate what is already there but hidden. The space inside music and the music inside space can be elicited and stimulated with attention and the actions of listening and sounding. As we learn to understand these forms within forms, we can construct both in and with music and spaces. When I discuss music here, I do not mean the score. I mean its sonic manifestation in space. And when I write about architecture, I relate to its physical presence in our reality. I will present my perspective on these two occurrences (the space inside music and the music inside space) as a way of thinking about how sonic scenography and acoustic spatial sound composition emerge where they coincide.




Architectural spaces are ‘composed surroundings’ for humans. They enable social interaction. Sonic scenography similarly opens up possibilities for social space. The performers practice space care (dictionary) and the scenography is performed in relation to the audience. It acts and responds and therefore initiates a space for interaction. In short, the performance of the sonic scenography creates a space for the audience to explore physically; that is music inside space and space inside music.




Perception plays an important role in painting and in other art forms. A landscape on a flat surface is always two-dimensional. It is the techniques of the painter that trick our senses, and it is our willingness to enter the work that lets the landscape appear three-dimensional. The ways in which sound affects our perception of architecture reveals its enveloping quality. The reactions of the architecture to sound exposes the music inside space.



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Blesser, B., Salter, L.-R., 2009. Spaces speak, are you listening? Experiencing aural architecture. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.


Caspers, B., Gerhards, A., Meiering, D., 2021. Kunst öffnet. Tastversuche und Schlüsselerlebnisse. Schnell & Steiner GmbH, Regensburg.


Oliveros, P., 2006. 'Improvising with spaces.' J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 119, 3314–3314.





The music inside space and the space inside music



We experience spaces sonically. Therefore, if we choose to enter a space with headphones on, our understanding of its dimensions, its materials and its immediate surroundings will be limited. If we sit down and take the headphones off, we can feel how our aural attention opens up and expands. We may hear that the wall behind us is closer than the wall in front of us. We may feel slightly off balance, because the thick curtain to our left filters the deep frequencies that fill the whole space. The wind through the open door to our right might move some dry leaves from the outside along the soft wooden floor. Gently their dance tickles a bit more in our right ear than in our left ear. A car outside honks. We stand up and walk to the door. Now we can hear our own footsteps on the wooden floor. The rhythm of our steps is mirrored by the high ceiling. The friction of sand under our shoes on the floor causes cracking sounds. When we close the door, sonically it feels like a blanket was wrapped around us. We notice the difference between the sonic experience of the space when it was open to the outside, and now, as a closed space. The space we are in becomes an island. Its embrace becomes total. The space that the walls hold becomes clearer. Our steps as we walk back to the chair now reflect more clearly from several surfaces. The space reacts to our active presence. It answers in the sonic vocabulary that we express, but transforms it, gives it its own ‘touch’. We sit down and notice the feeling of a sonic void to our left again. Curious, we turn the chair around to check how this feels. Everything changes. With a 180° turn, our whole perception of the space has changed, not only visually but also aurally. Maybe we wonder what it would be like if we could feel that sonic void, but the wall looked the same as on the other side. If our visual and sonic impressions did not match, we would probably question our senses. Maybe we would walk to the wall to check what material it was made out of in order to understand the sonic impression. Sonic information and visual impression cooperate; in their midst we render our reality.