Symposium: The Future Sound Of Pop Music 2017

The Future Sound Of Pop Music

Research Symposium
University of the Arts
Bern, Switzerland

30 November – 3 December 2017

Call for Abstracts (e/g)

Call for abstracts (e/g)

The significance of individual sounds – their origins, their development and their future – has until now rarely been an object of research in popular music. This symposium will discuss how the sound aesthetic of popular music has changed over the past decades. It will debate how sounds have been created, how they are employed, and how they are constantly being renewed and replaced by new sounds. Last but not least, the symposium will discuss the future of sounds in pop music by addressing the following questions:

·       How are sounds modified, manipulated and transformed today, and how will this be done in the future?
·       What role do new interfaces and controllers play in the development of new sounds?
·       What do current sound generators offer?
·       What new sound generators might we expect in the future?
·       How will pop music sound, 10 or 20 years from now?

The following keynote speakers have been invited:
·       Prof. Dr John Chowning (San Francisco)
·       Prof. Dr Lippold Haken (Illinois)
·       Prof. Dr Edmund Eagan (Ottawa)
·       Dr Wayne Marshall (Boston)
·       Bruno Spoerri (Zurich)
·       Annie Goh (London)

This symposium is part of the HKB research project “Cult sounds” of Immanuel Brockhaus and Thomas Burkhalter (Norient), which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. For more information, see or


We are herewith issuing a call for abstracts in the following subject fields:

1.    Technological aspects
The development of new synthesis procedures, editors, controllers and management software for auditory events seems to have reached a point at which the possible fields of application in music have been optimised and are both highly developed and user-friendly. Music technologies are future-oriented, but also process and transform past accomplishments. We wish to determine what virtual settings can offer, both within DAW systems and outside them. More and more developers and users are turning to physical systems (especially modular systems) that offer a great degree of openness and haptic characteristics. We aim to discuss this field of development.

2.    Socio-cultural aspects
Innovations in music technology and the renewal and expansion of sounds have often taken place in experimental settings or through unconventional approaches adopted by those involved. We can often observe that new sounds develop in subcultures and are later adopted by the mainstream. What is the approach of those who develop, use and consume these sounds? What networks exist and emerge around the idea of a new sound? Do small teams of developers determine what happens? In what environments do sonic innovations occur? And what are the impact and significance of specific sounds in different social and cultural contexts?

3.    Sound aesthetic aspects
Innovative sounds that are used excessively in the mainstream for aesthetic or commercial reasons can divide the production and listening communities. Current preferences such as auto-tune, filtering, sidechain compression, stutter effects and bandstop effects are omnipresent but are not necessarily new, nor even genuine pop sounds.
How are “new” sounds perceived and evaluated? How do individual sounds change the overall aesthetic of pop songs?

We are inviting speakers for panel discussions (for a total of 60 minutes, with 3–4 papers in each panel), individual papers (20 minutes) and poster sessions. We are also open to suggestions for other formats (impulse papers, workshops, film screenings, performances or discussion sessions). We also intend to offer research newcomers a platform to present their current topics.
Proposals for individual contributions (in German or English) will comprise: title, abstract (max. 300 words) and a brief biography (max. 90 words). Proposals for panel discussions should include an outline text and an abstract (max. 300 words in total). We are happy to receive proposals for session chairs. Sessions with individual contributions will as a rule be chaired by the organisers.


Download link for cfa in german:

Please send your application by 1 May 2017 to:



Dr Immanuel Brockhaus and Dr Thomas Burkhalter, HKB (lead)
Assistants: Sabine Jud and Daniel Allenbach

This symposium is part of the HKB research project “Cult sounds” of Immanuel Brockhaus and Thomas Burkhalter, which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.



IASPM D-A-CH, The German-speaking branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music



Thursday, 11/30

12.00 – 13.00 Registration
13.00 Welcome
13.15 Keynote Bruno Spoerri
14.00 – 15.30Junior Panel 1
15.30 Coffee Break (lounge)
16.00 – 17.30 Junior / HKB Panel 2
Free evening


Friday, 12/1

10.00 Keynote John Chowning
11.00 – 12.00 Panel 1
12.00 – 13.30 Lunch Break
13.30 – 15.30 Panel 2
15.30 Coffee Break
16.00 Keynote Lippold Haken / Edmund Eagan
17.30 – 18.30 Panel 3
18.30 Dinner
20.00 Workshop Lippold Haken / Edmund Eagan


Saturday, 12/2

10.00 Keynote Wayne Marshall
11.00 – 12.00 Panel 4
12.00 – 13.30 Lunch Break
13.30 – 15.30 Panel 5
15.30 Coffee Break
16.00 Keynote Annie Goh
17.00 – 18.00 Panel 5
20.00 Concert  Dampfzentrale (Downtown)


Sunday, 12/3

10.00 – 11.00 Panel 6
11.00 Poster Session
13.00 End



John Chowning

John Chowning was born in Salem, New Jersey, in 1934. Following military service he studied music at Wittenberg University where he concentrated on composition and received a BMus degree in 1959. He then studied composition in Paris for three years with Nadia Boulanger. In 1966 he received the doctorate in composition from Stanford University, where he studied with Leland Smith. With the help of Max Mathews of Bell Telephone Laboratories and David Poole of Stanford, in 1964 he set up a computer music program using the computer system of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. This was the first implementation of an on-line computer music system ever. Beginning in 1964, he built a program that allowed the simulation of moving sources in a quadraphonic projection. In 1967, Chowning discovered the frequency modulation (FM) algorithm in which both the carrier frequency and the modulating frequency are within the audio band. This breakthrough in the synthesis of timbres allowed a very simple yet elegant way of creating and controlling time-varying spectra. Over the next six years he worked toward turning this discovery into a system of musical importance. In 1971 he made a significant advancement based upon analytical research of Jean-Claude Risset and Max Mathews at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Stanford University began a relationship with Yamaha in Japan in 1973, which led to the most successful synthesizer engine in the history of electronic musical instruments.

John Chowning has received fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and was artist-in-residence with the Kunstlerprogramm des Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdiensts for the City of Berlin in 1974, and guest artist in IRCAM, Paris in 1978/79, in 1981, and in 1985. His compositions have been widely performed around the world and have been recorded on compact disc. In 1983 he was honored for his contributions to the field of computer music at the International Computer Music Conference in Rochester, New York. In 1988 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Music by Wittenberg University in 1990. The French Ministre de la Culture awarded him the Diplôme d’Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1995 and he was awarded the Doctorat Honoris Causa in 2002 by the Université de la Méditerranée and by Queen’s University, Belfast, 2010. He was named Laureate of the Giga-Hertz-Award in 2013.

Beginning in 1966 Chowning taught computer-sound synthesis and composition at Stanford University’s Department of Music and was the founding director in 1974 of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), one of the leading centers for computer music and related research.


Lippold Haken

Lippold Haken was born in Munich, West Germany on April 12 1961 – the day the first human was launched into space. Soon after Yuri Gagarin made his flight, his father was offered a job as a mathematician at the University of Illinois; Americans were trying to hire more German scientists than the Russians were hiring. His father never contributed to the space race directly, but worked at the University of Illinois as a Math professor and proved the Four Color Theorem with Ken Appel. Lippold is the third of six children and lived in central Illinois nearly all of his life. He learned German from his parents and siblings at home. All the children had to practice violin; Lippold did not always enjoy it, but is thankful now for his mother’s persistence.

In 1989 Lippold received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois. He lives in Champaign, Illinois with his wife and four kids, down the street from his parents. He teaches in the University’s ECE department; his favorite class to teach is ECE402, an electronic music class for ECE seniors and graduate students. He also teaches labs, and wants to nurture ECE student pride in their ability to design and build working devices. Together with another professor he started what is now the department’s largest class, ECE110, in the 1990s.

Lippold started working on the Continuum Fingerboard in the early 1980s when he was a student at the University of Illinois. He tried many different designs and many different finger detection technologies. It is challenging to polyphonically track the small finger movements involved in expressive playing, and at the same time have a good surface feel. For the last 20 years he has had a design that is similar to the current Continuum, and has been making many small mechanical and software improvements, including improvements to the finger tracking algorithms.

The last decade has been especially exciting; he has been working with Canadian sound designer Edmund Eagan to develop built-in sounds that are specifically designed for the Continuum’s three-dimensional playing surface.

Edmund Eagan

Edmund Eagan is an audio manipulator extraordinaire, bringing over 30 years of professional experience to his work. This is backed by five years of university study in music composition at Ottawa and Toronto, Canada. During his career he has explored many varied musical genres, resulting in numerous award winning productions,including a Canadian television Gemini award for the music in the animated production “TheWoman Who Raised a Bear as Her Son”, a Gemini for CBC’s “The Health Show”, and Gemini nominations for the music in the documentary film “FLicKeR”, the film “ C u r i o s i t i e s ” and in the Man Alive documentary “Beyond Belief”. He has a recipient of multiple SOCAN (The Society of Composer, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) awards in recognition of his work in film and television. As well as doing original music and sound design work, Edmund has participated in numerous audio recordings both as performer and producer, and has been extensively involved in the design and operation of a new innovative musical instrument, the Continuum Fingerboard, manufactured by Haken Audio.

His audio work for film and TV commonly uses ordinary found sound as a musical source. Voices, backgrounds, ambient textures and other seemingly incidental sonic source material is manipulated to extract relevance to the sonic score. The overall effect is to enhance the content of a scene by bringing contextual meaning to the audio soundscape, including sounds that could otherwise seem superfluous. Edmund has employed this technique frequently in his work in film, television and the web. Some examples would include his compositional work for the documentaries “Beyond Belief” and “Sandspit to Dildo”, the CBC series “Life, the Program”, the CBC specials “A Day in the Life of Nova Scotia” and “A Day in the Life of Canada”.

Bruno Spoerri


Bruno Spoerri was born in Basel in 1935. The son of a violinist and an engineer started early with piano lessons, but switched then to saxophone. As winner of the first prize for saxophone at the Zurich Jazz Festival 1954 he joined well known jazz groups as the Francis Notz Group (with George Gruntz), the Metronome Quintet and the Modern Jazz Group Freiburg. Followed studies of psychology, work as professional counselor, interrupted by extended concert tours. In 1965 he had the chance to switch to a new film company, where he was responsable for the sound department. In the following years he composed, arranged and recorded the music for more than 500 TV-spots, about 100 documentary films, experimental films, TV signature tunes, music for TV shows , also for cabaret shows, radio features and a musical. He collaborated with Swiss film makers Markus Imhoof, Bernard Lang, Rolf Lyssy, Samir, Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf and many others in motion pictures. From 1974 to 1980 he led a 24-track recording studio and produced mostly young artists of the Swiss folk-rock and jazz scene, but also pianist Randy Weston.

In 1965 Spoerri started to use electronic equipment as the Ondes Martenot, then the first EMS synthesizers. With his jazz groups (Jazz Rock Experience, Container) he began to combine jazz improvisation and electronic sounds. He also did solo synthesizer shows. His presentation of the Lyricon at the first Ars Electronica in Linz earned the first prize. In 1980 he played at Ars Electronica with Toto Blanke and Charlie Mariano, in 1982 he was one the soloists of the ballet “Erdenklang“ for Fairlight Synthesizers, together with Bob Moog. For some years he represented EMS, ARP, Sequential Circuits and Linn in Switzerland.

1974 Spoerri published his first solo synthesizer album “Iischalte – Switched-on Switzerland“, featuring the EMS Synthi-100, in 1976 “Voice of Taurus“ and the improvised duo album “Sound of the Ufos“ with Reto Weber. In 1980 he collaborated with Irmin Schmidt (Can) for the much appraised LP “Toy Planet“. His early works are re-issued now by Finders Keepers Records.

In 1982 Spoerri founded with some friends the “Schweizer Gesellschaft für Computermusik“, an association of all people interested in computer music. In 1985 followed the “Swiss Center for Computer Music“ with Gerald Bennett, Tonino Greco and Rainer Boesch, opening the first computer studio of Switzerland with a DEC PDP-11 and the DMX-100 signal processor.

Then followed years of teaching electronic music at the Musikhochschule Zürich, Konservatorium Biel and Jazz History at the Jazz School Luzern, touring with Reto Weber, Ernst Reijseger, Christy Doran, Albert Mangelsdorff through Europe, the USA, Canada, India and Africa.

His interest in gesture control led to interactive sound installations in the Technorama Winterthur and Verkehrsmuseum Luzern and in trade showsand to concerts in many festivals. In 1992 he was invited as Guest Composer at the International Computer Music Conference San José (CA, USA) and gave a concert with Don Buchla.

Today he continues to explore the possibilities of improvisation with gesture control and the electronic saxophone Synthophone.

Wayne Marshall

Wayne Marshall is an assistant professor of music history at Berklee College of Music and a visiting professor at Harvard University. An ethnomusicologist by training, his research examines the interplay between sound reproduction technologies, media regimes, and musical publics, with a focus on hip-hop’s and reggae’s intertwined, global histories. Published in a variety of scholarly journals reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of his work, Marshall co-edited Reggaeton (Duke 2009) and complements his academic work by sharing mashups and mixes online and writing for press outlets such as Wax Poetics and The Wire as well as on his critically acclaimed blog, wayneandwax.
co-edited Reggaeton (Duke 2009) and complements his academic work by sharing mashups and mixes online and writing for press outlets such as Wax Poetics and The Wire as well as on his critically acclaimed blog, wayneandwax.

Annie Goh


Annie Goh is an artist and researcher working primarily with sound, space, electronic media and generative processes within their social and cultural contexts. She holds an MA in Sound Studies, MFA in Generative Art and a BA(Hons) German & European Studies. She has recently published in MAP – Media | Archive | Performance, n.paradoxa: feminist art journal, Flusseriana: An Intellectual Toolbox & Unsound/Undead (forthcoming 2017). She has co-curated the discourse program of CTM Festival since 2013 and has lectured at Berlin University of Arts (Art and Media) and Humboldt University (Media Theory). She is currently undertaking a PhD at Goldsmiths University of London, Department of Media and Communications as a Stuart Hall PhD fellow and funded by CHASE/AHRC.



lecture title: Sounding Technofeminist Futures – Speculations on sonic unknowns

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