Julia Schauerman profile

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Julia Schauerman

University of the Arts London (2023)


Dr. Adam Stanovic


Co-composing Acousmatic Stories: Hybrid strategies for exploring change, crisis and community through collaborative creative practice


Human beings have always used stories to make sense of the world. Now, as we struggle to cope with the effects of climate breakdown, we need stories more than ever. However, telling stories about present-day upheavals is proving problematic; writer Amitav Ghosh suggests that climate change may be resistant to language and talks of a need for hybrid genres (Ghosh 2016).

My research hybridises both storytelling and acousmatic music*, exploring the exciting possibilities of acousmatic storytelling as a method of collaborative creative practice with which to understand, reflect upon and communicate present day crises. Narrative, within the acousmatic story, is presented through the ‘combination and coexistence of multiple layers’ of recorded spoken word and composed sound scenes (Amelides 2016).

Rhetoricians describe the medium of sound as especially useful in communicating current ‘volatile experiences’, due to its temporal and vibrational nature (Comstock and Hocks 2016). Acousmatic composers talk of recorded sound’s ability to convey direct experience, for example, recorded rainfall can evoke the experience of being rained on (Andean 2014) and the disembodied voice can seemingly be speaking directly to the listener.

Five acousmatic stories, on subjects such as rising sea levels and loss of biodiversity, will be co-composed for the purpose of developing, testing and refining a ‘decision making’ framework. Each co-composer will bring expert know-how and/or personal experience to the subject of the composition being worked on and will be fully credited for their contributions to this research.

This research will make novel contributions to the field of acousmatic music; collaboration, storytelling and the consideration of ethical implications of recorded (referential) sounds have been largely unexplored within the field.

*Acousmatic music is composed in a composition studio, with recorded and/or transformed sounds, before being presented to audiences using loudspeakers; it deals with sound in powerful and poetic ways.