Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Ewan Stefani

Associate Professor

0113 343 2605

School of Music, Room 1.08

Office hours: 2016-17: Friday 11am (during term time)

ALCM, LLCM (Napier), BA, PGCLTHE, MMus, PhD, (Leeds)

Ewan’s research interests lie in different forms of practice-based research incorporating music software or electronic instruments. He lectures in the areas of electronic/computer music, composition, and applied music technology.

Biography

Originally from Edinburgh, Ewan studied piano with Margaret Murray and composition with John Macleod at Napier Polytechnic (1989-91), where he was given the opportunity to begin composing with computers such as the Atari ST, thanks to the generosity of the head of department, Philip Sawyer. Ewan has been composing with synthesizers and tape recorders since the early 1980s. With the assistance of successive Scottish Studentship awards, he studied Music at the University of Leeds from 1991 onwards until he completed his PhD in electroacoustic composition in 1999. As a composer, his works have been performed on BBC Radio 3 and at various national and international conferences.

Research Interests

  • Practice-based research, including collaborative practice
  • Multi-channel and site-specific sound installations
  • Computer music composition
  • Audiovisual composition
  • Free improvisation, particularly using electronic instruments
  • Sound in space and acousmatic sound theatre
  • Applied analogue and digital music technology
  • Applications of cognitive neuroscience research
  • Experimental audiovisual performance practice
  • Investigation of computer hardware and technology as musical instruments

Teaching

  • Composition (all levels); module leader for Level 3 Composition
  • Module leader for MA Electronic & Computer Music Practice / Portfolio modules
  • Music Technology
  • Applied Project module leader
  • Music in Practice: analogue synthesizer ensemble

Responsibilities

  • Director, Centre for Practice-led Research in the Arts (CePRA)
  • UCU representative

Publications

Journal articles

  • Stefani EJ, Lauke K (2010) “Music, Space and Theatre: Site-specific approaches to multichannel spatialisation”, Organised Sound Landy L (eds.). 15.3
    DOI: 10.1017/S1355771810000270

    Approaches to the multichannel spatialisation of electroacoustic music are described here with reference to musical case studies which focus upon the expressive functions of space and the theatricality of sound diffusion in an acousmatic context. A site-specific approach to spatialisation is proposed to enhance theatrical aspects of musical performance. Case studies include proposals for novel layouts of the diffusion system within the performance space and compositional techniques that are designed to re-evaluate our understanding of individual listening spaces.

Conference papers

  • Stefani EJ, de Bezenac C (2010) COMPUTER-CONTROLLED VIDEO AS A MULTIMODAL INTERFACE IN LIVE ACOUSMATIC MUSIC. International Computer Music Conference Proceedings: International Computer Music Conference 2010 International Computer Music Association.

    This paper presents techniques for the novel use of projected video in a live improvised performance context. In particular, the use of digital video camera and computer to reveal information about an otherwise acousmatic performance will be discussed. An investigation of acousmatic musical performance which goes beyond fixed media works will be considered, where electroacoustic and instrumental performers are hidden from view and where video provides the only visual interface to the musicians. Aesthetic issues linked to the control of live video by the performers will be discussed, including the expressive impact of selectively revealing details of live instrumental and electronic techniques to the audience in an otherwise predominantly acousmatic performance where such details are hidden. The potential ambiguity of the video interface will be explored where distortions of time are introduced to break direct causal relationships between visual gestures and sound, introducing moments of cross-modal discrepancy for audience members. Deliberate blurring of source identity between instrumental and electronic sounds in a live acousmatic context will also be considered.

  • Stefani E, Mooney J (2009) Spatial composition in the multi-channel domain: aesthetics and techniques. International Computer Music Conference Proceedings: Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2009 University of Michigan: International Computer Music Association.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80581/

    This paper outlines technical and aesthetic approaches to sound spatialisation for electroacoustic music composition. In particular, the paper discusses how spatialisation (sound diffusion) is used to realise specific musical objectives. Technological solutions to problems associated with adapting multichannel compositions for live spatialisation are explored, with particular reference to the open-source Resound system [2, 3]. Examples of Resound applications are provided to illustrate the potential of the system for controlling complex spatial behaviour during live performance.

Performances

  • Stefani EJ Klangfarben Study. 9 Dec. 2005

    Performance of acousmatic electroacoustic composition for multi-channel sound diffusion on the BEAST system.

  • Stefani EJ East Fortune Market (radio broadcast). FM broadcast and online 15 Dec. 2012

    This one hour radio programme explores the soundscapes of the East Fortune Market in Scotland, as recorded by Ewan Stefani. The programme includes a narrative added by the composer which explains the process and thinking behind the recordings.

  • Stefani EJ, de Bezenac C (In)Visible Sound.

    This project investigates techniques for the novel use of projected video in a live improvised performance context. In particular, the use of digital video camera and computer to reveal information about an otherwise acousmatic performance will be investigated. An exploration of acousmatic musical performance which goes beyond fixed media works will be undertaken, where electroacoustic and instrumental performers are hidden from view and where video provides the only visual interface to the musicians.

  • Stefani EJ, Altoft, Stephen Nítján. 16 Dec. 2011 (Accepted)

    Based on studio recordings of 19-division trumpet, Nítján explores the spatialisation of improvisations by the composer and Stephen Altoft recorded between 2011 and 2014. Musical themes include spectral dissonance, pitch-textures and boundaries between noise and microtonal pitch. Designed for 8-channel spatialisation, oscillating panning techniques are used throughout the piece to separate distinct lines within textures and create spatial ostinato patterns.

  • Stefani EJ, Hession P Vermeer Kankare. 16 Dec. 2003

    My objective was to mix the sonic power and complexity of acousmatic electronic music with the freedom and interactivity of live improvisation. I wanted the computer to be heard as an instrument that is able to match the rhythmic intricacy and dynamic range of Paul’s percussion, so I made software patches which allowed me to play freely and control sounds in an expressive, instrumental way. A different palette of sounds is used in each track, to give each piece a distinct character. My sounds are sampled live from long improvised recordings or pre-composed work that I then re-mix and transform as I interact with Paul, so the ‘concretes’ in these pieces for me are the fixed sound objects that are re-moulded into new musical structures as we perform.

  • Stefani EJ Vermeer's Mirror. 10 Dec. 2028

    Performance of acousmatic electroacoustic composition by Ewan Stefani, diffused by the composer.

  • Stefani EJ DT/P. 15 Dec. 2012

    DT/P represents three manifestations of Duty Cycle (D=T/P): 1. Firing neurons, muscle fibres, and cellular activity. 2. Electrical motors: overheating, and cooling-down. 3. Variation of pulse-width; cyclical modulation of time and density. The sounds for the piece were taken from many different sources made by the composer, such as recordings of improvisations on synthesizers from the 1980s, wind chimes, xylophone, clock chimes, contact microphones, and field recordings made for the piece in 2014. Sound processing was achieved using original patches made in Reaktor, with additional editing in Audition.

  • Stefani EJ DT/P. 15 Dec. 2026

    Programme note: DT/P represents three manifestations of Duty Cycle (D=T/P): 1. Firing neurons, muscle fibres, and cellular activity. 2. Electrical motors: overheating, and cooling-down. 3. Variation of pulse-width; cyclical modulation of time and density. The sounds for the piece were taken from many different sources made by the composer, such as recordings of improvisations on synthesizers from the 1980s, wind chimes, xylophone, clock chimes, contact microphones, and field recordings made for the piece in 2014. Sound processing was achieved using original patches made in Reaktor, with additional editing in Audition.

  • Stefani EJ We See Into the Life of Things (performance). Audio 6 Dec. 2000

    Performance of complete work as part of International Trumpet Guild 2006 conference, Rowan University, New Jersey, USA. Date of performance: 9th June, 2006.

  • Stefani EJ Blue Balloons (performance). Audio 1 Dec. 2000

    Live performance of blue balloons. Sonic Arts Network conference / Sonorities Festival, Queen's University, Belfast

  • Stefani EJ SansCulture (BBC Broadcast). Audio 2 Dec. 2000

    Broadcast of SansCulture on BBC Radio 3 as part of 'Hear and Now' programme (10.45pm, 23rd March, 2002).

  • Popat SH, Stefani EJ, Ng KC The Coat of Invisible Notes. 30 Nov. 2000

    Performance using new music technology to sense the movement of the dancers and translate it into sound. Sita Popat choreographed the dance, working in collaboration with Dr. Kia Ng (music technologist), Dr. Ewan Stefani (composer) and Christine Hughes (costume designer) Reviewed by Yorkshire Evening Post, 9th October 2000: “stunning new dance performance”. Performances and development were supported by Yorkshire Arts.

  • Stefani EJ Tilt (performance). Audio 3 Dec. 2000

    Premiere performance of Tilt as part of MAXIS International Festival / Symposium of Sound and Experimental Music. This multi-channel version of the work was designed for a fourteen speaker diffusion system.

  • Stefani EJ Forza (performance). Audio 30 Nov. 2000

    Live performance of Forza by Duo Contour. Center for New Music, University of Iowa

  • Stefani EJ A Garden Retreat (performance). Audio 8 Mar. 2001

    Live diffusion by Adrian Moore of "A Garden Retreat" as part of Digital Summer 98 in the Green Rooms, Manchester.

  • Stefani EJ Lametta (performance). CD 6 Dec. 2000 (Accepted)

      ta is an abstract acousmatic work that explores musical applications of convolution and time-compression techniques. Sequences of broadband impulses are convolved with pitched sounds to create percussive or bell-like timbres. Longer field recordings are time-compressed with high overlap settings to produce incomprehensible vocal passages which are then convolved with a predetermined series of chords. Overall, the intended effect is to create a composition that emphasises rhythm and pitch. The choice of timbres and soundscapes in the piece reflect my interpretation of the contrasting Italian and English meanings of the title. Performance details: Selected for performance as part of the 2006 International Computer Music Conference, 6th-11th November, Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. Performance date scheduled for Concert XIV on Friday 10th November at 8pm.
  • Stefani E Vermeer's Mirror. 9 Dec. 2024

    Premiere of piece as part of the Sound and Music Expo, Leeds, 25 and 26 September 2009

  • Hession P, Stefani EJ Concretes. Audio CD and online release 15 Dec. 2002

    Commercial CD and online release by the label Bruces Fingers.

  • Stefani EJ, Hession P Duet. 11 Dec. 2000

    Free improvisised performance featuring Paul Hession (drum set) and Ewan Stefani (live computer-controlled spatialisation and signal processing).

Compositions

  • Stefani EJ (2017) The Court of Miracles.

    Music composed as part of a reimagining of Ballet Royal de la Nuit by Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne to be performed in 2018.

  • Stefani EJ (2017) The Astronomer. Online

    The Astronomer is an abstract musical interpretation of the painting by Johannes Vermeer of the same title, where a process of successively re-working recorded sounds to create greater dynamic contrast and complexity is inspired by Vermeer’s painting techniques. All sounds in the piece were derived from electronic and acoustic instruments recorded by the author in 2010. Instrumental phrases that were originally composed as discrete microtonal melodic phrases were manually edited, combined, distorted and coloured with spectral editing tools. Finally, the completed phrases and textures resulting from this process were resampled and remixed live with Reaktor to create this version of the work.

  • Stefani EJ (2017) Minotaur.

    Minotaur is a miniature acousmatic work for FM synthesizer with quarter-tone tuning and soundscapes of water and steam. These sounds are convolved with the sounds of tapping an array of gas cylinders at different microtonal pitches to create a shroud of extended partials around the synthesizer phrases.

  • Stefani EJ (2017) The Quiet Place.

    The Quiet Place (2017) explores boundaries between dissonance and consonance, and different forms of dynamic spatial movement when performed in 8-channel surround sound. Pitched spectra, rhythms and spatial effects are created from convolution of the sounds of steam trains, noise patterns, and voices blended with analogue synthesizer timbres. Each of the parts in the composition was derived from improvised performances which were then edited, or convolved with recorded sounds and simple spectra. Subjectively, the music represents a process of re-focussing attention between the outside world and internal emotional responses.

  • Stefani EJ (2016) Nítján. audio

    Programme notes: Based on studio recordings of 19-division trumpet, Nítján explores the spatialisation of improvisations by the composer and Stephen Altoft recorded between 2011 and 2014. Musical themes include spectral dissonance, pitch-textures and boundaries between noise and microtonal pitch. Designed for 8-channel spatialisation, oscillating panning techniques are used throughout the piece to separate distinct lines within textures and create spatial ostinato patterns.

  • Stefani EJ (2015) DT/P. Digital; multi-format (Submitted)

    DT/P represents three applications of Duty Cycle: 1. Firing neurons, muscle fibres, and cellular activity. 2. Electrical motors: overheating, and cooling-down. 3. Variation of pulse-width: cyclical modulation of time and density.

  • Stefani EJ (2012) Compositions for a linear array.

    In this interactive multi-channel sound installation, asynchronous linear sequencing methods are explored in live performance. Parallel sequences of synthetic and sampled sounds travel along a linear array of 16 loudspeakers in front of the audience. The tempo and pattern length of each sequence is controlled by the performer in real-time, creating spatial polyrhythms and spatial patterns which drift in and out of phase.

  • Stefani EJ (2012) Type-writer.

    An interactive performance and site-specific sound installation by Ewan Stefani for 26 loudspeakers, arranged in the formation of a QWERTY keyboard. Each loudspeaker is controlled by the corresponding key of a computer keyboard, so that spatial patterns may be performed by the audience using a familiar tool. Patterns of key-strokes may be stored and recalled by the performer, allowing members of the audience to create their own compositions using the system. Different banks of sounds can be selected to play with the system, such recordings taken from a mechanical typewriter and recordings of a human voice. The computer recognises when keys are released, as well as repeated key strokes and a small vocabulary of common words, so that the resulting sounds respond in a meaningful way to the actions of the performer. As words are recognised, for example, sounds are arranged automatically into spatial patterns in response to these words.

  • Stefani EJ, Hession P (2012) Duet. Audio CD (and online) (In preparation)

  • Stefani E (2009) Vermeer's Mirror. Audio CD and 8-channel WAV

    Acoustic and electronic instrumental recordings are used in this work to provide a musical analogue of the photographic techniques used by Vermeer and other renaissance artists, who employed the camera obscura to provide a projected representation of the subject. This detailed, photographic-quality image was used to project detailed scenes for the overall composition of each work. Vermeer also made use of the mirrors to provide perfectly focussed smaller details which were then integrated with the rest of the painting. The instrumental phrases used in this work provide the musical references for the composition and are drawn from much larger, composed musical structures. Each note of the original material is ‘painted’ using the computer to re-colour, re-texture, re-synthesize and re-contextualise the source material throughout the piece.

  • Stefani EJ (2006) Lametta. CD

      ta is an abstract acousmatic work that explores musical applications of convolution and time-compression techniques. Sequences of broadband impulses are convolved with pitched sounds to create percussive or bell-like timbres. Longer field recordings are time-compressed with high overlap settings to produce incomprehensible vocal passages which are then convolved with a predetermined series of chords. Overall, the intended effect is to create a composition that emphasises rhythm and pitch. The choice of timbres and soundscapes in the piece reflect my interpretation of the contrasting Italian and English meanings of the title.
  • Stefani EJ (2006) We See Into the Life of Things. Audio

    Electroacoustic composition for live instrumental performer(s) and computer-generated sounds.

  • Stefani EJ (2005) Coldstone. Audio

    Electroacoustic composition featuring recordings of improvised manipulation of stone blocks to create musical gestures. The recordings are further manipulated by means of signal processing techniques and combined into a stereo work. Premiere: 24th February, 2005 in Sheffield as part of Sound Junction III concert series.

  • Stefani EJ (2005) Beginnings. Audio

    Electroacoustic piece for multi-channel diffusion exploring the use of voice and text in a programmatic context. This work is designed for multi-channel diffusion, but can also be made available as an audio CD.

  • Stefani EJ (2003) Tilt. Audio

    Electroacoustic composition featuring soundscape and processed electronic elements. Initial version for multichannel playback over fourteen loudspeakers. Stereo version also available.

  • Stefani EJ (2003) Boden. Audio

    Multi-channel electroacoustic composition.

  • Stefani EJ (2001) Blue Balloons. Audio

    Electroacoustic composition published on CD by CEC.

  • Stefani EJ (2000) Forza. Audio

  • Stefani EJ (1999) SansCulture. CD

      ulture [Electroacoustic, Stereo, CD] was commissioned by the Arts Council of England and premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London as part of Sonic Concrete (19 March 1999). Two further performances due to comply with commission requirements <p> SansCulture sought to express my own impression of European musical culture of the late 1990s. It belongs to a new musical sub-genre, influenced by the complex gestural structures of electroacoustic music combined with powerful percussive sounds more typical of contemporary popular music. Irregular pulses are combined with more uniform structures, abstract electronic pulses and a recurring Klangfarbenmelodie composed entirely of concrète timbres, digitally processed to emphasise certain pitched elements within each sound. Compression of specific frequencies, filtering, equalisation, delay, reverberation, and dynamic modification of amplitude envelopes were all used specifically to enhance the impression of contrast between the various percussion sounds and also between rhythmic and sustained events.
  • Stefani EJ (1998) A Garden Retreat. CD

      den Retreat [Soundscape, Stereo, CD] was commissioned by Sonic Arts Network. Performances: The Green Rooms, Manchester, 20 June 1998 (‘Digital Summer 98’); QEH Foyer, South Bank Centre (‘State of the Nation’), 10/11 April 1999; Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal (‘On the Edge’), 19-21 November 1999. <p> A Garden Retreat marks my research interest in the use of ‘collage’ electroacoustic composition techniques. The work was intended as a sonic ‘postcard’ representing the specific soundscape of a country garden. Sounds were recorded using close stereo microphone techniques and transferred to computer for editing and processing. My intention was to retain the original character of the sounds as closely as possible, so it was essential to use controlled digital signal processing techniques which would not produce artificial colouration of the audio. On a narrative and structural level, this work reflects my research interest in modes of listening and our capacity for imaginative interpretation of acousmatic sounds. Because of the lack of pitched sounds, metrical pulses, or other similar traits, the impression of ‘musicality’ in A Garden Retreat derives from the process of editing and mixing audio events to form what can only be perceived as composed phrases.
  • Stefani EJ (1998) Senecio.

    Senecio for Guitar and Tape was commissioned by Instituto Cervantes. Performances by Francesco Mariani (Leeds City Art Gallery, 9 December 1998, Leeds International Concert Season’s Spanish Festival); British Music Information Centre, London, 21 January 1999. <p> The commission for Senecio inspired me to combine elements of classical Spanish guitar music with more experimental composition techniques. Phrases and single notes were isolated from Mariani’s performance of De Falla’s Homenaje. These audio fragments were transferred to computer to be edited and transformed by convolution and other forms of signal processing into unique electronic sonic events. Patterns of such timbres were combined with samples of percussive guitar sounds and sorted into four categories which would then define the character of each movement in the final work. Special score symbols were devised to indicate the position and category of acousmatic sounds in relation to the conventionally notated guitar part, which was itself created from transcriptions of improvised guitar recordings.

  • Stefani EJ (1998) Altoft Suite. Sheet music

  • Stefani EJ (1998) Interior Voice. Sheet music

  • Stefani EJ (1996) Point-to-Point. CD

      -to-Point [Electroacoustic, Stereo, CD], performed ICMC '96 in The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, August 1996. <p> Point to Point marked the beginning of my research interest in the stylistic juxtaposition of contrasting musical elements in acousmatic music. Electroacoustic means were used to create an evocative presentation of contrasting musical textures. Using Csound created a unique character to the soundscape derived from research into additive synthesis. Using two such opposing musical forces enabled me to create an intentionally disjointed and evocative musical effect.
  • Stefani EJ Three Abstractions. (Accepted)

  • Stefani EJ, Altoft S Untitled. (In preparation)

    Research themes for this project will focus upon exploring different modes of interaction and improvisation between live instrumental performer and computer. Research outcomes will include online publications and an audio CD.

Others

  • Stefani EJ (2002) Commodity Music. Sonic Arts Network.

Research Centres & Groups

  • Centre for Practice-led Research in the Arts (CePRA)
  • Group for Research into Improvised Music (GRIM)
  • Music & Science research group group
  • Making Music research group

External Appointments

  • Reviewer for ICMC and ACMC conferences

External Examining

  • BEng/MEng Electronics with Music programme, Glasgow University, 2014-2017
  • BA(Hons) Music, Technology and Innovation, De Montfort University, 2012-2015
  • BA(Hons) Music Performance, Hull College (Leeds Metropolitan University), 2011-2014
  • BA(Hons) Music Production, Hull College (Leeds Metropolitan University), 2011-2014
  • BA(Hons) Drama, Music and Sound (validation), Edge Hill University, 2007
  • BA Creative Music Technology, School of Intermedia and Performing Arts, Doncaster College (2002-2007).

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

  • Electroacoustic composition
  • Applied music technology
  • Computer music practice
  • Electronic music practice
  • Soundscape composition / installation practice
  • Free improvisation performance practice (with technology)
  • Experimental audiovisual composition
  • Sound/multimedia installation practice

PhD Thesis

Portfolio of electroacoustic / multimedia compositions with written commentary (1999).

Links

 

 

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