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Stefano Catena

Music, De Montfort University

Thesis title:

The Language of Music in Space: A Study of Listeners? Perception to Develop a New Vocabulary of Sound Movement

Contemporary technologies for spatialisation and virtual reality permit sound to be positioned in an acoustic space with remarkable precision. However, an established language for articulating spatial experience in creative practice remains underdeveloped, despite a very active field of related technical research spanning music and contemporary media (cinema, virtual reality and video games). Moreover, an understanding of how listeners receive and affectively interpret movements of sounds in space, and how the morphology of these movements might condition the sound-mediated experience, are important to the development of such a spatial language. 

The proposed research will study musical gestures and the movement of sounds in space by means of investigating their expressive potential and listeners’ reception, with the goal of developing a needed, authoritative and organised vocabulary of spatial attributes. This will be achieved through the analysis of spatiality in creative practice, categorising spatial gestures according to their intended musical purpose, and establishing their affective potential via a series of auditory tests for both specialist and non-specialist listeners. Concurrent praxis will complement the developing theory, integrating the novel spatial vocabulary into compositions and performances along with spatialisation software and hardware, thereby guaranteeing its applicability.

Research Area

  • Music
  • Musicology


  • S. Catena, A. Bolzoni, Distorsione di Massa, in Proceedings of the XXII Colloqui di Informatica Musicale (CIM), Udine, 2018, pp 237-242

  • S. Catena, A. Bolzoni, Virtual Acousmonium, a study on expressiveness of musical gestures, in Proceedings of the 18th Sound and Music Computing (SMC) Conference, Torino, 2021, pp 338-344

  • S. Catena, Real-time algorithmic timbral spatialisation: compositional approaches and techniques, in Proceedings of the 18th Sound and Music Computing (SMC) Conference, Torino, 2021, pp 323-339


Other Research Interests

DIY electronic instruments, music performance