Discover the exciting world of electroacoustic music and learn to make music with sounds.

Michael Gatt: Sound Installation & Acousmatic Compositions

Michael Gatt

Name: Michael Gatt

Where do you live / work: Derby/Leicester

Favourite Transformations

AmpModBadge- Amplitude Modulation (AM)A type of manipulation in which one input signal modulates the amplitude of another sound.More infoAmplitude Modulation (AM)

ChorusBadge- ChorusThe use of multi-layering one or more sounds, often with the use of very small-scale delays. The chorusing effect leads to the impression of a duplication of the original input sound, a chorus consisting of an ensemble of the input sound(s).More infoChorus

- Convolutiona process by which two sounds are added together over time.a process by which two sounds are added together over time.More infoConvolution

DelayBadge- DelayA process in which an input signal is looped and repeated.More infoDelay

EnvelopeBadge- EnvelopeThe shape of a sound over time.More infoEnvelope Manipulation

FadeBadge- FadeA change of volume over time, usually moving from or too silence (fade-in or fade-out). More infoFade

FilterCombi- FilterA filter changes the frequency makeup of a sound by making parts of it weaker. Filters allow you to focus on parts of a sound that are of interest to you, or to take away parts that you don't like.More infoFilter

- GranulationA process which splits a preexisting sound file into many small grains and then re-assembles these into a cloud.More infoGranulation

PanBadge- PanningThe placement of sounds left and right between a stereo pair of speakers.More infoPanning

ReverbBadge- ReverbThe multiple short reflections of sound that give humans an immediate impression of space. Reverb effects can be used to impart a sense of space onto recorded or generated sounds.More infoReverb

Reverse Icon 2- Reverseto play a sound backwards.More infoReverse

- Time-StretchingA manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter.More infoTime-Stretching

TransposeBadge- TranspositionA manipulation which changes the pitch of a sound. More infoTransposition


What makes these manipulations your favourite?

They make it easier to remove any identical characteristics of a sound where necessary, or focus on particular aspect of it.

1. How would you describe the type of music that you make?

My musical work is split into two types: site-specific installations and acousmatic compositions. The site-specific installations focus on using specific places as a fundamental part of the work, whilst the acousmatic compositions usually only use one sound source as centre point for the entire piece.

2. If you had to use the genre categories to describe your music, which would it be?

Electroacoustic musicMusic in which electronic technology is used to manipulate, eventually generate, explore and combine sounds. More infoElectroacoustic music Sound ArtArt in which the sound (as opposed to the musical note) is the basic unit. Associated with both musicians and fine artists. It is a synonym of Sound-based Music.More infoSound Art

Sound InstallationThe sound installation can be a musical equivalent of a sculpture, an aural experience designed for a space generally used for the exhibition of visual art or a site-specific work.More infoInstallation


3. What types of sounds do you like to use when you compose?

Normally dissonant sounds, but this depends on the type of music I am composing. If I am creating a site-specific installation I might use site-specific sounds, which are chosen because of their relation to the place and not for their sonic characteristics.


4. What makes these sounds your favourite?

I enjoy using dissonant sounds, as they do not prescribe a particular scale in the mind of the listener. My focus is on the texture and gesture of particular sounds.


5. How do you go about starting or coming up with an idea for a composition? Do you personally use a similar approach each time? Or is it always different?

For site-specific installations I normally start with the place in question and form an idea based on its history and/or its acoustics. The acousmatic music I compose either starts from a particular sound or a narrative (which does not focus on a particular sound).


6. Which composers /musicians are an inspiration to you?

François Bayle, Denis Smalley, Max Neuhaus and György Ligeti.


7. What is it about this music that engages you so much?

The use of real-world sounds.


8. Could you pick a short section from one of your own pieces and describe how you created it?

Condemned (Installation excerpt)

There is little actual manipulation within this section. The majority of sounds retain their identity and are only amplified. The prominent sound gesture in this section was created using pitch shift and reverb to prolong the sound.



9. What were you trying to convey to the listener in this excerpt?

The sounds that maintained their identity were meant to provide a grounding for the listener whilst the prominent gesture was intended to sound at odds with the rest of the material.


10. If you were giving some general advice to someone who was beginning to compose a piece what would it be? What is the most important thing to remember when composing?

Focus on the sounds and how they work together.

Pick your sounds wisely.

Think about the pace of the music; try to gauge what feels right.

Don’t be afraid to have silence in a piece; you don’t always need to have something happening. The silence can aid in changing the focus/mood.

Additive Synthesis

A process of creating sounds in which complex sounds are made from the combination of simpler elements (such as sine waves). Different types of simple sounds can be combined to create ever more complex sound textures.

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Electronic Music

Music in which the sound material is not pre-recorded, but instead uniquely generated electronically, through oscillators and noise generators.

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Elektronische Musik

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A piece of electrical equipment that produces a back and forth motion in electricity, thus inducing an AC current which can be sonified by a loudspeaker.

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