Stefano Catena

De Montfort University, Leicester, UK;


Space and spatiality have always been considered in the compositional practice by composers and artists. Throughout history many composers have exploited the spatial parameter in their music, actively using it inside their compositional practice. Particularly in fixed acousmatic music the spatial experience of the work has become primary, as a vast range of contemporary technologies for spatialisation permit sound to be positioned and moved through space with remarkable precision. However, space has been treated as a true compositional parameter only recently in music history: an established language and theoretical framework for articulating and analyzing the space and spatiality in creative practice is still underdeveloped. This research aims to create a new approach to the analysis of spatial music, particularly fixed acousmatic music, by introducing terminologies and categories for the identification of spatial placements and movements. Several works have been analyzed, ranging from Mozart’s Notturno in D major for four orchestras K286 to Ives’ Unanswered Question, from Xenakis’ Terretektorh to Trevor Wishart’s Encounters in the Republic of Heaven. These compositions have provided case studies for the development of a basic unit for spatial analysis, the “Spatial Sonorous Object”, and an ontology of roles that spatial movements and placements play in musical works, called spatial function. In this discussion, several types of spatial functions will be explored with relevant musical examples, along their functional purpose and link to their spectromorphological features.

Keywords: Spatialisation; Acousmatic music; Musical analysis.


Stefano Catena is an Italian composer and researcher: he specialises in acousmatic music, ambient and multimedia installation, sound synthesis, spatialisation and sound programming. He graduated at Milan’s Conservatory in Electronic Music with the 110/110 cum laude with the thesis “The Virtual Acousmonium: a study on expressiveness of musical gestures”. He also studied in the USA at Montclair State University (NJ) with Nathan Davies and at the Hochschule für Music in Detmold with Fabian Levy and Andrea Valle. His works have been included and performed in some of the most important international conferences such as Sound and Music Computing (SMC) and Colloqui d’Informatica Musicale (CIM). He is currently pursuing a PhD in Music, Technology and Innovation from De Montfort University in Leicester under Peter Batchelor, Leigh Landy and Scott Wilson.