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Mark Ferguson

Music, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Acousmatic music composition, guided by the inherent methodologies and approaches of wildlife sound recording.

Sound recording and studio-based composition are the two main components of my practice-based research.

I’m particularly interested in how the various methodologies of wildlife sound recording inform creative work in the studio, and vice versa. All of my compositions are created exclusively from my own library of natural sounds.

Research Area

  • Music

Publications

'Audio, by its Very Nature'.
Time for Nature, Conference Booklet: New Networks for Nature (Nov 2019)

'Of Bumblebees and the Homeland Compass'.
Freckle Magazine, Issue 8, pp. 66-69 (Summer 2019)
http://www.frecklenorthernireland.org/

Conferences

New Networks for Nature, 2019
'Searching for the Great Yellow'
15-minute presentation & panel discussion (November 2019)

Bumblebee Conservation Trust AGM, 2019
'In Search of the Great Yellow'
Keynote Speaker: 30-minute presentation with discussion (October 2019)

International Csound Conference, 2019
'Processing Nature: Recordings, Random Number Generators & Real-Intrinsic-Extrinsic Perceptual Threads'
20-minute presentation with discussion (September 2019)

Public Engagement & Impact

Exploring the Unique Sound World of the UK's Rarest Species
Arts & Humanities Research Council: blog post (October 2019)
https://ahrc-blog.com/2019/10/28/exploring-the-unique-sound-world-of-the-uks-rarest-species/

Great Yellow Bumblebees
Stereo Recording; South Uist, Scotland.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (September 2018)

Bumblebee Recording at Cribbs Causeway Shopping Mall
Cribbs Causeway Shopping Mall: blog post (April 2019)
https://www.mallcribbs.com/blog/2019/april/bumblebee-blog

Homeland (formerly Ashland)
Ongoing Landscape Recordings, Northern Ireland (March 2018).
Featured by the Woodland Trust in Broadleaf magazine, No.93 (Summer 2018)

Bumblebees (various species)
Stereo Recording; Bristol, England.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (March 2018) 

Waves & Sand
Stereo Subterranean Recording; Cushendun Bay, Northern Ireland.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (August 2017)

Submerged Branch
Mono Contact Mic Recording; Sperrin Mountains, Northern Ireland.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (July 2017)

Plastic
Stereo Audio-Visual Work (January 2016).
Selected for screening during the opening ceremony of the NaturVision Film Festival 2016 in Ludwigsberg, Germany

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Interviews

Great Yellow Bumblebee Recordings
University of Birmingham News Pages.
Interview (September 2019)

Exmoor Radio Show: Episode 11 (January 2019)
http://exmoorradio.com/countryside/the-sounds-of-silence-why-exmoors-aural-soundscape-is-special/

Revealing Field Recording Craft through Location. (October 2017)
Creative Field Recording website
https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/2017/10/04/revealing-field-recording-craft-through-location-interview-with-mark-ferguson/

Other Research Interests

The broader practice of field recording (and its associated technologies, methodologies, pedagogy and online community). Approaches to wildlife sound cataloguing and curation. The historical development of wildlife sound recording. Cross-disciplinary conservation projects.

Memberships

Wildlife Sound Recording Society. Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Academic Qualifications & Awards

University of Manchester: MusM, Electroacoustic Music Composition with Distinction (2012-2013)
Queen's University Belfast: BMus, Music with First-Class Honours (2009-2012)
M3C Doctoral Training Partnership for PhD in Musical Composition at University of Birmingham (2018-2021; ongoing)
AHRC BGP Studentship for Postgraduate study at The University of Manchester (2012)
Sir Hamilton Harty Scholarship for Binaural Field Recording Research (QUB, June 2012)
Degree Plus Award for Contribution to Academic Ensembles (QUB, 2009-2012)
Foundation Scholarship for Best Overall Academic Performance (QUB, 2010-2011)
Foundation Scholarship for Best Overall Academic Performance (QUB, 2009-2010)

List of Works

Mud Roots
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Birmingham (September 2019)

The Sunlit Thawing
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Birmingham (August 2019)

The Bumblebees of Winterbourne
Stereo Installation. Realised in the recordist's home studio, Bristol (May 2019)
— Three-Week Installation: Winterbourne House and Garden, Birmingham (September 2019) 

Cassiano's Blackbird
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Birmingham (May 2019)
— World Premiere: Barber Institue of Fine Arts, Cassiano dal Pozzo Paper Museum exhibition, Barber Lates Series, Birmingham (25 June 2019) 

Shorelines
8-Channel Acousmatic Work. Realised in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Birmingham (April 2019)
— World Premiere: BEAST (Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), BEAST FEaST Festival, Elgar Concert Hall, University of Birmingham (3 May 2019)
— Performance: Barber Institue of Fine Arts, Cassiano dal Pozzo Paper Museum exhibition, Barber Lates Series, Birmingham (25 June 2019) 

Deadwood
8-Channel Acousmatic Work. Realised in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Birmingham (January 2019)
— World Premiere: BEAST (Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), BEASTdome Concert, University of Birmingham (1 March 2019)
— Selected for ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) Feldstein Immersion Room, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York (17 June 2019 )
— Selected for NYCEMF (New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival), New York (16-23 June 2019 )

Alhambra Patch Panel
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the NOVARS Electroacoustic Studios, University of Manchester   (June 2013) 

Mancunian Canvas
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the NOVARS Electroacoustic Studios, University of Manchester (June 2013)

Invader
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the NOVARS Electroacoustic Studios, University of Manchester (November 2012)
— World Premiere: MANTIS Festival of Electroacoustic Music, Manchester (March 2013 )

Radioactive Morning Dew
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the NOVARS Electroacoustic Studios, University of Manchester (November 2012)

Rust
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the SARC Studios, Queen's University Belfast (June 2012)

Heiligenstadt Testament 2.0.
Stereo Acousmatic Work. Realised in the SARC Studios, Queen's University Belfast (June 2011)

Presentations & Talks

MiniBEAST Listening & Sound Diffusion Session, University of Birmingham
1-hour presentation of recent recordings & sound diffusion (November 2019)

LCAHM Research Forum, University of Birmingham
'Bumbling About: Current & Future Research at the UoB Electroacoustic Music Studios'
25-minute presentation with discussion (February 2019)

MiniBEAST Listening & Sound Diffusion Session, University of Birmingham
1-hour presentation of recent recordings & sound diffusion (February 2019)

MiniBEAST Listening & Sound Diffusion Session, University of Birmingham
1-hour presentation of recordings, equipment demonstration & sound diffusion (December 2018)


Employment & Industry Experience

Rycote Microphone Windshields
Product Engineer & Technical Support Advisor (2016-2018)

Prior to studying at the University of Birmingham, I was employed as Product Engineer and Technical Support Advisor at Rycote: an industry leader in microphone windshielding and suspension technologies. Reporting directly to the CTO, my role focused on new product development and testing within purpose-built audio facilities. I also coordinated the majority of the company's technical support channels, advising leading sound professionals (many of whom work on internationally renowned documentaries, dramas, films and video games) on audio equipment selection and maintenance.

In support of the company's Marketing Team, I conducted several, high-profile interviews with prominent sound recordists and designers, working with the CMO and Marketing Executive on various elements of the Rycote website.

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Wildlife Sound Recording & Audio Work

University of Birmingham (Doctoral Research, 2019-2021)

Barber Lunchtime Concert (Friday 3 May, 2019)
Location Sound Recordist

BEAST FEaST Festival (May 2019)
Festival Assistant & Crew Member. Hardware rigging/de-rigging, concert preparation and equipment testing.

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Freelance & Contract Work (2013-2018)

Interview with George Monbiot.
AGB Films: Sound Recordist (2015)

REGUA, with Michael Palin.
Short Conservation Film, Five Films: Sound Editing, Mixing & Design (2015) 

Uganda Wildlife Authority: Catching Poachers in Murchison Falls.
Short Conservation Film, Five Films: Sound Editing, Mixing & Design (2015) 

Uganda Wildlife Authority: Overview.
Short Conservation Film, Five Films: Sound Editing, Mixing & Design (2014) 

Uganda Wildlife Authority: Protecting the Critically Endangered Rothschild's Giraffe.
Short Conservation Film, Five Films: Sound Editing, Mixing & Design (2014)