Sound Matters: a creative framework

Sound Matters: a creative framework

Research project and Online Gathering

Led by Ximena Alarcón and Cathy Lane

2015 - On going

Funding from JISC and London College of Communication

Sound Matters: a creative framework - A community creating interfaces for the use and re-use of field recordings and speech.

Sound Matters is a research project that brings together an interdisciplinary community working in the creative use and re-use of sound specifically field recordings and speech.

Ximena Alarcón and Cathy Lane worked to create together a framework that facilitates the interrogation and relational playback of sound in its own terms. They envisioned the framework as a ‘Listening-Led Environment’.

In the initial stages Sound Matters identified needs and coping strategies of UK and international interdisciplinary researchers, artists, students, archivists and librarians, working with non-musical sound material, specifically field recordings and speech, in their research process and creative practice.

Research Links:

The Proposed Framework

We envisioned the framework as a ‘Listening-Led Environment’ for the use and re-use of sound, and we have focused on the processes of Interrogation: a. Search and Retrieval (meta-data) and b. Analysis: sonic information retrieval (machine-led listening) ; and Relational Playback, meaning the process which involves the relationships between the sound materials according to different purposes (human-led listening)... read more

Schema image - text on page

Image text: The following three categories feed into an 'Archive / Database'; 1) 'Interrogation: a. Search and Retrieval (meta-data) and b. Analysis: sonic information retrieval (machine-led listening)'; 2) 'Relational Playback (human-led listening); and 3) 'Sonic Inputs'. The 'Archive / Database' feeds out to 'Sonic Outputs'.




Stage One – Interviews

Interviews were conducted with a range of researchers and practitioners about their experiences with field recording and speech sound recordings and the proposed framework.

Participants included Dr. Adam Parkinson, Andrea Zarza, Prof. Cathy Lane, Clay Gold, Holly Ingleton, Isobel Anderson, Prof. John Drever, Mark Peter Wright, Dr Michael Gallagher, Peter Cusack , Ron Herrema, Dr Rupert Cox, Sukanta Majumdar, Dr Tom Rice and Tullis Rennie.

Stage Two – Online Gathering

From May 20th to June 17th 2015, stories derived from interviews with artists, researchers, and archivists who use field recordings and speech in their work were published on the Sound Matters website. The stories were based on three themes: Field Recordings, Speech and Archive. A wider community of practitioners were invited to read, listen and comment on each story in an Online Gathering, each answering the questions - Do you identify with their practices and issues? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with sound in this framework?

In a parallel manner, contributors to the initial survey were invited to contribute further to the expanded framework via a site called

Stage Three – Co-Design Workshop

Researchers who participated in the survey were invited to gather in a co-design workshop. They discussing the created framework, experienced technical developments that aid the processes of Interrogation and Relational Playback of sound, and contributed to the ideation of interfaces that will make these processes accessible and flexible tackling the common needs identified by the community... read more.

Interface Development

In February 2016, Ximena Alarcón visited Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts (BEK) in Bergen, Norway, with the support of Erasmus staff exchange at the University of the Arts London to collaborate with Trond Lossius on a new interface with Jamoma. Together they explored how to create interfaces for accessing archives of sound, such as archives of field or speech recordings.

Read more on the Sound Matters website and on the BEK website.

Research poster