G. Piano Mapping


The impulse to engage with spatiosonic movement in my practice probably emerged from the nature of the grand piano itself: it is a massive, static, and immobile instrument, which usually remains in one fixed position. Having begun to interact with microphones and speakers, I wanted to expand my performance through improvising with piano maps, which would allow me to decide where a sound comes from and when, and to use this as a compositional element, as a score, perhaps.

“Piano Mapping” is an approach to spatial composition in my performance, by means of a mapping and unfolding of space and sound relationships and a choreographing of timbre in space. In this, I use a custom-built spatialization device, which allows me to decide where a sound happens and when and how, during this event, I can shape its timbral qualities.

I amplify the piano with four to six microphones within a multiple speaker set up, with the piano in the middle of the space, the speakers in the corners of the room and the audience sitting or walking around it. Through specific microphone-speaker configurations—what I term piano maps—the piano is magnified, projected, and mapped in space. The idea to virtually extend the piano in a multispeaker setup came from a wish to immerse the audience as equal listeners and participants inside the piano. I had previously engaged with fixed, multichannel compositions and the movement of sounds between loudspeakers in work on Memory Piece   and the Audio Papers. That led to a desire for more refined spatial composition possibilities and an interest in integrating the concept of piano maps into improvisational processes: to emphasize the active and multiple nature of mapping the piano in space, in a way that moves, transforms and even “warps” space while I perform, thereby engaging with the spatial aspects of timbre creation.“Piano Mapping” becomes another combined object-action performance approach to explore the complexities of situated timbre.

I discuss the workprocess and performance with the Piano Mapping tool in detail in chapter 7 of the thesis.


Max patch software interface


Media Example G1

First Piano Mapping Performance, working with Stig Gunnar Ringen from the Norwegian Academy of Music in May 2017. Ohlinsalen, Gothenburg University.

Max patch hardware interface

Max patch implementation


In March 2017, I began collaborating with Sukandar Kartadinata in order to develop a custom built device for sound spatialization. The device above is now part of my current setup: a small hardware box containing a computer (Lattepanda), which runs a Max patch, and which I can access via my laptop prior to a performance through a closed network to create the presets and piano maps that I want to use in a particular space. Furthermore, the device has three different modes of operation and a range of additional functions.

These include:

  1. a preset mode with nine different configurations/piano maps

  2. a joystick mode with which I can pick out one specific microphone and move sounds between speakers

  3. a “play-back” mode of up to three sound files, which I can start, pause and stop and which gives me the possibility to play with multichannel compositions such as the Audio Papers or versions of Memory Piece.

  4. a crossfade feature to seamlessly move between different piano map presets, which I can turn on or off with a small switch

At the moment, the Max patch and my soundcard have eight inputs and outputs, meaning I can use up to eight different channels and microphones during a performance. The laptop is only needed to provide me with visual feedback prior to the performance and to carry out actions like moving sound files between computers, etc. The device is positioned inside the piano next to my preparations and objects and is now integrated into my performance setup and is accessible at any time as another instrument and object that I improvise with.

Playing with the piano mapping tool, I try to virtually emulate the piano’s architecture in some of the presets; these map the instrument’s layout and different registers in space in a manner that positions the piano as a “sonic sculpture”.

 “Piano Mapping”  and its integration into improvisational processes functions as a spatial extension and translation of physical and musical gestures; a timbral choreography.

Piano Mapping at Kungliga Musikhögskolan Stockholm, in the 29.4 Speaker dome,  in March 2019 

Media Example G2

Piano Mapping October 2017 at Gothenburg University

Further Performances with Piano Mapping together with the Audiopaper "A fuchsia coloured awning" here