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Christopher Haworth

Biography

Christopher Haworth is the 2013-15 Eyes High Postdoctoral Scholar in Network Music Performance and Composition at University of Calgary. He is an artist, audio researcher, and scholar working at the intersection of sound art, perception, and digital media. Much of his creative and scholarly work draws inspiration from a longstanding interest in audio technologies and hearing science research, especially the way the two intertwine. Christopher also writes about issues related to sonic arts, and has published on various topics including: the legacy of Iannis Xenakis’ sound technologies, ‘extreme’ computer music and noise, and the use of psychoacoustic phenomena as a musical material. He has presented his works at international festivals such as ICMC and EMS and published his research in such journals as Leonardo and Computer Music Journal. He is editor of Array, the International Computer Music Association journal, and board member of the ICMA. Christopher obtained a Ph.D. from the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, and has degrees from Goldsmiths College, London and Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts. Before taking up this position he was a postdoctoral fellow on the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice project at McGill University, Montréal. 

Research

My work as a composer and sound artist is research led, and typically draws upon adjacent fields such as music psychology, psychoacoustics, cybernetics and systems theory in order to derive sonic concepts and ideas. Recent computer music compositions such as a<<<>>>b utilise local computer networks running a self-authored feedback system for live sound generation. Future research in this area will focus on integrating machine learning and listening principles in order to develop these into fully autonomous systems to be performed over wide area networks. During my PhD I developed a number of novel techniques for using auditory distortion products (sounds generated inside the ear) as a sound synthesis material. A technical paper on the sound generating techniques is forthcoming in Computer Music Journal, whilst a piece composed from these principles, Correlation Number One, was the winner of a Shut Up and Listen! Award for young composers in 2011. My sound practice is always informed by my work as a scholar and audio researcher. I have published on a number of topics related to computer music and sound art, including: the late electroacoustic music of Iannis Xenakis’; musical subjectivity and affect; ‘extreme’ computer music and noise; and the impact of psychoacoustics research on 20th Century music. Later this year I will be presenting work on instrumentality and genre in underground computer music at both the American Musicological Society in Milwaukee and the Music and Genre: New Directions symposium at McGill University. 

Teaching

At University of Calgary I teach advanced courses in Telemusic (Network Performance) and Sonic Design. Telemusic focuses on the composition, performance and realisation of works for distributed performers over the network. The course is designed to equip students with the technical, creative and theoretical skills required to develop their own distinctive practice within this new medium. Although a fast developing and exciting field, the idea of globally networked events has permeated the thinking of artists, composers and philosophers since the late 19th Century, and so a supplementary objective of the course is to situate network music historically, in the ‘musical telephone’ of the late 1870s; the radio art explorations of the 20th Century; and systems theory and cybernetics thinking. Due to the nature of the medium, much of the work completed in class is collaborative; the course provides opportunities for students to perform with geographically distributed performers in such cities as Beijing, Montréal and Wellington, as well as across the Faculty of Arts here at the University of Calgary.

Sonic Design explores advanced sound synthesis and signal processing techniques and their application in computer music composition. Teaching in the course comprises lectures, labs and workshops where students work with the instructor and their peers in order to develop their computer programming, digital audio theory, composition and listening skills. Themes include sound spatialisation and spatial hearing; timbre composition; room acoustics and reverberation design; physical modelling; microsound composition; and nonstandard synthesis. An interdisciplinary approach to computer music composition is presented throughout the course. Working at the intersection of acoustics and psychoacoustics, audio engineering and composition, students quickly develop an integrated technical-creative approach to their own practice. 

Media