"TopoPhonien" (1990-1999) by Sabine Schäfer is a series of sound installations.


TopoPhonicPlateaus (Sabine Schäfer)

The sound installations in the TopoPhonien project are the result of a research project Sabine Schäfer has been working on since 1990. The basic idea of the project is to move music three-dimensionally through space. The concept of including sound movement as a supplementary parameter in composition is a consequence of her special interest in electronic music.

A special characteristic of electronic music is its medium -- the loudspeaker, the so-called sound source, the source of electronic sound. In acoustic instruments, the location of sound production is identical with the location of the sound itself; in contrast, in electronic music these two events occur at different locations. The arising possibility to position sound sources at any location required, thus creating separate sound-spaces in the overall space, promoted Schäfers interest in the development of loudspeaker installations. The loudspeakers form a matrix by which sounds are positioned in space or moved through space.

The result is a sounding body which emits music in different states of motion. The listener is confronted with virtual sound-spaces, their specific character being the real three-dimensional movement of sound. The spatial sound movement emerges as a significant component in the conception of music, furthermore structuring the course taken by the composition.

Three-dimensional sound movements require substantial hard- and software, which has been especially conceived and built by Sukandar Kartadinata. In the course of the past few years he has realized the technical work on the project. The sound distribution systems are controlled digitally. Up to eight acoustic signals may be moved over sixteen or twenty-four individual outputs. Thus several sound layers perform different movements at the same time.


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