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Mark Ferguson

Music, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

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

Sound recording and studio-based electroacoustic 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. All of my compositions are created exclusively from my own library of wildlife sounds.

Research Area

  • Music

Publications

Ferguson, M. (2020) 'Reflections on Reflectors: A Brief Chat with Klas Strandberg', Wildlife Sound, 14 (7), pp. 25-27.

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'Audio by its Very Nature', New Networks for Nature Conference Booklet (November), p. 26.

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'Of Bumblebees and the Homeland Compass', Freckle Magazine (June), pp. 66-69.

Ferguson, M. (2018) 'The Winds of Change', Woodland Trust Broadleaf Magazine [Northern Ireland edition] (summer), pp. 2-3.

Conferences

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'Searching for the Great Yellow' [audio-visual presentation], Nature Matters Conference. St. Peter's School, York, 2 November.

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'In Search of the Great Yellow' [keynote speaker; audio-visual presentation], Bumblebee Conservation Trust AGM. Old Trafford Cricket Ground & Conference Centre, Manchester, 19 October.

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'Processing Nature: Recordings, Random Number Generators and Real-Intrinsic-Extrinsic Perceptual Threads' [unpublished academic paper; presentation], ICSC2019: Fifth International Csound Conference. Cagli Municipal Theatre, Italy, 27 September.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwhXa2anbrA

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'On the Recording of Bumblebees' [PowerPoint presentation], Midlands4Cities Research Festival. Maple House Conference Centre, Birmingham, 23 May.

Public Engagement & Impact

Ferguson, M. (2020) Wildlife Sound Recording Society: Sound Magazine (No. 200; October).
-- 'Great Yellow Bumblebees at the Nest'. Stereo sound recording, tracks 19-20.
-- 'The Cuckoo and the Dartmoor Copse'. Stereo sound recording, tracks 39-40.

Phonurgia Nova Awards. Annual competition, 2020.
-- Nomination & jury mention for Présage, Field Recording category.
-- Selection for Elektrophonie festival, 2021.

Ferguson, M. (2020) Wildlife Sound Recording Society: Sound Magazine (No. 199; August).
-- 'Siskin & Crossbill Foraging'. Mono sound recording, tracks 33-34.
-- 'Real-Time Blackcap Mimicry'. Mono sound recording, tracks 59-60.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts (2020) 'Shorelines by Mark Ferguson', Sounds of Nocturnes webpage feature, 29 June.
Available at: http://barber.org.uk/sounds-of-nocturnes/?fbclid=IwAR3EjfMwsrSicfNcWuuygndijE62iRntg-8-bAF6rw19lxCZpcLLut0ijgs

Wildlife Sound Recording Society. Annual competition, 2019. [Awarded May 2020]
-- Winner, individual class (first-time entry).
-- Second place, species class (first-time entry).
-- Second place, combination class.

Telinga Microphones. (2020) 'Mark Ferguson--Avian Album', Telinga homepage news blog post, 10 May. Available at: https://www.telinga.com/

Cube Microplex Radio Hour feature (2020) Noods Radio, 4 May. [Blackbird recording, Bristol]. Available at:
https://noodsradio.com/shows/the-cube-an-hour-of-audio-from-bristols-eclectic-microplex-4th-may-20

On-air spoken promo (2020) Downtown Radio, 21 April. [for Avian Album, released April 2020]

Ferguson, M. (2020) 'Herring Gull on Car Roof'. Stereo sound recording, WSRS Sound Magazine (No. 197; January), tracks 35-36.

Ferguson, M. (2019) Interviewed by the Arts & Humanities Research Council for the AHRC Website News Pages, 28 October. Available at: https://ahrc-blog.com/2019/10/28/exploring-the-unique-sound-world-of-the-uks-rarest-species/

Ferguson, M. (2019) Interviewed by the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music for The University of Birmingham, 11 September. Available at: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/music/news/2019/bumblebee.aspx

Sunday Morning Magazine Programme: 'Slow Radio' Feature (2019) BBC Radio 4, 8 September. [Great yellow bumblebee mating activity: South Uist, Scotland]

Phonurgia Nova Awards. Annual competition, 2019. Nomination for The Bees of FDR Drive, Field Recording category.

Wildlife Sound Recording Society. Annual competition, 2018. Second place, combination class (first-time entry). [Awarded July 2019]

Cribbs Causeway Shopping Mall. (2019) 'Mark Ferguson's search for bumblebee sounds', Cribbs Causeway News Page post, 15 April. Available at: https://www.mallcribbs.com/blog/2019/april/bumblebee-blog

Ferguson, M. (2019) Interviewed by Keri Jones for Exmoor Radio, 22 January. Available at: http://exmoorradio.com/countryside/the-sounds-of-silence-why-exmoors-aural-soundscape-is-special/

Sunday Morning Magazine Programme: 'Slow Radio' Feature (2018) BBC Radio 4, 11 March. [Urban bumblebee recording: Bristol]

Ferguson, M. (2017) Interviewed by Paul Virostek for Creative Field Recording, 4 October. Available at: https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/2017/10/04/revealing-field-recording-craft-through-location-interview-with-mark-ferguson/

Sunday Morning Magazine Programme: 'Slow Radio' Feature (2017) BBC Radio 4, 20 August. [Subterranean recording of coastal waves: Cushendun Bay, Northern Ireland]

Sunday Morning Magazine Programme: 'Slow Radio' Feature (2017) BBC Radio 4, 16 July. [Internal recording of submerged branch: Sperrin Mountains, Northern Ireland]

Other Research Interests

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

Memberships

Bat Conservation Trust (BCT); Wildlife Sound Recording Society (WSRS).

Academic Qualifications & Awards

HEFi Horizon Award. (2018) For successful completion of modules in lecturing, small group teaching, assessment, feedback provision and HE practices. University of Birmingham.

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. (2018) Competitive award for doctoral research at The University of Birmingham [ongoing].

Master of Music with distinction. (2013) University of Manchester.

AHRC BGP Studentship. (2012) Competitive award for master's-level postgraduate study.

Bachelor of Music with first-class honours. (2012) Queen's University Belfast.

Degree Plus. (2012) Awarded for extensive extra-curricular contribution to musical ensembles & performance practice. Queen's University Belfast.

Sir Hamilton Harty Scholarship. (2012) Competitive award for binaural field recording research in Granada, Spain. Queen's University Belfast.

Foundation Scholarship. (2011) Awarded for best overall academic performance in academic year 2010/2011. Queen's University Belfast.

Foundation Scholarship. (2010) Awarded for best overall academic performance in academic year 2009/2010. Queen's University Belfast.

List of Works

In progress: 3rd-order ambisonic installation (~25' duration). Title TBC. Estimated completion month: April 2021.

'Hazel Trunk' (2020). 3' stereo/binaural electroacoustic composition [Habitats Suite, Work 1]. UK: Private Studio & University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.

'Woodland Understorey' (2020). 5' stereo/binaural electroacoustic composition [Habitats Suite, Work 2]. UK: Private Studio & University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.

'Pond Sediment' (2020). 4' stereo/binaural electroacoustic composition [Habitats Suite, Work 3]. UK: Private Studio & University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.

'Seabed' (2020). 2' stereo/binaural electroacoustic composition [Habitats Suite, Work 4]. UK: Private Studio & University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.

Humble. (2020) Digital Album. UK: Independent release & Bumblebee Conservation Trust fundraiser.

Avian: Selected Bird Recordings. (2020) Digital Album. UK: Independent release.

'Machair Impressions' (2020). 10' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • World premiere: MiniBEAST lunchtime concert series, Bramall Dome, University of Birmingham. 25 November, 2020.
'The Bumblebees of Winterbourne' (2019). 13' stereo bookshop installation, Winterbourne House & Garden. UK: Private Studio.

'Mud Roots' (2019). 7' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • Selection: BEAST FEaST festival concert, Elgar Concert Hall, University of Birmingham. 2 May, 2020. [Event postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.]
'The Sunlit Thawing' (2019). 4' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • Selection: Listening room concert at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Sonorities Festival, Belfast. 22-25 April, 2020. [Event postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.]
'Cassiano's Blackbird' (2019). 10' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • World premiere: Cassiano dal Pozzo Paper Museum exhibition, Barber Institute of Fine Arts 'Barber Lates' Series, Birmingham. 25 June, 2019.
'Shorelines' (2019). 10' 8-channel electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • World premiere: BEAST FEaST festival concert, Elgar Concert Hall, University of Birmingham. 3 May, 2019.
  • Gallery performance: Cassiano dal Pozzo Paper Museum exhibition, Barber Institute of Fine Arts 'Barber Lates' Series, Birmingham. 25 June, 2019.
  • Concert performance: SEAMS & KMH (Royal College of Music) concert, Stockholm. 13 December, 2019.
  • Concert performance: 'CCRMA at Bing' concert, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, California. 01 February, 2020.
'Deadwood' (2019). 7' 8-channel electroacoustic composition. UK: University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studios.
  • World premiere: BEASTdome concert, Bramall Dome, University of Birmingham. 1 March, 2019.
  • Concert performance: International Computer Music Conference, Feldstein Immersion Room at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York. 16-23 June, 2019.
  • Concert performance: New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Feldstein Immersion Room at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library), New York. 16-23 June, 2019.
'Green Space' (2017). 2' audio-visual work. UK: Private Studio.

'Plastic' (2016). 4' audio-visual work. UK: Private Studio.
  • Selection & world premiere: NaturVision Film Festival opening ceremony, Ludwigsberg, Germany. Summer 2016.
'Mancunian Canvas' (2013). 9' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: NOVARS Research Centre Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Manchester.

'Alhambra Patch Panel' (2013). 11' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: NOVARS Research Centre Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Manchester.

'Invader' (2012). 5' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: NOVARS Research Centre Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Manchester.
  • World premiere: MANTIS Festival of Electroacoustic Music concert, Manchester. March 2013.
'Radioactive Morning Dew' (2012). 4' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: NOVARS Research Centre Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Manchester.

'Rust' (2012). 11' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: NOVARS Research Centre Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of Manchester.

'Heiligenstadt Testament 2.0' (2011). ~5' stereo electroacoustic composition. UK: Sonic Arts Research Centre Studios, Queen's University Belfast.

Presentations & Talks

Ferguson, M. (2019) Curated listening and sound diffusion session, MiniBEAST informal concert series. Bramall Dome, University of Birmingham, 27 November.

Ferguson, M. (2019) 'Bumbling About: current and future research at the UoB electroacoustic music studios' [audio-visual presentation], School of Languages, Cultures Art History and Music research seminar series. University of Birmingham, 20 February.

Ferguson, M. (2019) Curated listening and sound diffusion session, MiniBEAST informal concert series. Bramall Dome, University of Birmingham, 6 February.

Ferguson, M. (2018) Curated listening and sound diffusion session, MiniBEAST informal concert series. Bramall Dome, University of Birmingham, 5 December.

Employment & Work Experience

University of Birmingham, Department of Music.
Postgraduate teaching assistant: Studio Composition, Year 1 undergraduate class.
(3 October to 12 December, 2019)

Product Engineer & Technical Support Advisor
(2016 to 2018)
Prior to studying at the University of Birmingham, I was employed as Product Engineer and Technical Support Advisor at an industry-leading microphone windshield manufacturer. 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 high-profile interviews with prominent sound recordists and designers, working with the CMO and Marketing Executive on various elements of the company website.