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Space Base: A Database for Spatial Music Recordings

Friedemann Sallis
Division of Music
School of Creative and Performing Arts
University of Calgary
Jeffrey E. Boyd
Department of Computer Science
University of Calgary


Contemporary music composers and performers are constantly seeking to expand the creative affordances available to them by incorporating new electronic technologies into their work. Among these technologies, multi-channel audio systems present opportunities for spatialized sound in which composers create two- or three-dimensional sound fields that are a salient element of their music. Beam forming, ambisonics, and wave-field synthesis are among the techniques used to create and manipulate a sound field. At the time writing, we are seeing a rapid expansion of spatial techniques used in music. Nevertheless, the resources to capture and analyze this music remain expensive and out of reach to many that are interested.

This document describes Space Base, a database for spatial music recordings at the University of Calgary. The goal of the repository is to give researchers in music, musicology, science, and engineering access to high-quality recordings of spatial music, in a format that facilitates the spatial analysis of the music. Space Base also serves to maintain the cultural capital inherent in the recordings. While the initial contributions to the repository use ambisonic technology (see Section on Initial Content), the repository is open to recordings that use other methods to record a sound field. The authors and creators of the repository recognize that the recording techniques and data formats are evolving and that the repository must keep pace with that evolution. Given this evolutionary state of the art, users of Space Base require expertise in spatialized sound to use the recordings.

The following describes recommended usage of the repository and the initial contributions.

Usage and Citation


The contributors of data to the repository control the copyright of their contributed material. While the copyrights on the individual contributions may vary, the content may be used for personal and academic purposes only. For other uses, including commercial use, users of the repository must seek the permission of the copyright holder.

How to Obtain Recordings from the Repository

At the time of writing, Space Base is hosted on the NextCloud storage server of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. Space Base resides within the the collection of one of the authors (Boyd), and is not normally visible to the public. The procedure to obtain recordings from Space Base follow these steps.

  1. Contact Dr. Jeffrey E. Boyd to request access to Space Base. The request should indicate who you are, and how you intend to use the recordings so that we can be sure usage will fall within the copyright holders' wishes.
  2. Dr. Boyd will respond with email containing a link to the relevant part of Space Base.
  3. Using the web browser of your choice, follow the provided link and download the relevant files.

The link will be active for a limited period of time. If the link expires before you have completed your downloads, contact Dr. Boyd for a new link.

How to Contribute to the Repository

Other researchers may contribute to Space Base. To do this, contact Dr. Boyd. Include a description of what you wish to contribute. If the contribution is appropriate for Space Base, Dr. Boyd will arrange for the transfer of the data to the University of Calgary NextCloud servers.

How to Cite the Repository

Researchers who use the repository and publish their results should cite this web page. In addition, they should cite the individual works that they use from the repository.

Initial Content

Luigi Nono, A Pierre, dell'azzurro silenzio, inquietum for contrabass flute, contrabass clarinet and live electronics (1985).
Performed by Marieke Franssen (contrabass flute), Carlos Noain Maura (contrabass clarinet), and Juan Parra Cancino (live electronics), at the Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, February 2009.

This contribution was the subject of research conducted by Zattra et al. (2011) and details may be found in their published work. The spatial recording was done with a Soundfield MKV first-order ambisonic microphone. Notably, this contribution also contains recordings from various points in the electronic apparatus used in the performance in addition to the ambisonic microphone.

Keith Hammel, Touch for piano and interactive electronics (2012).
Performed by Megumi Masaki (piano) and Keith Hammel (live electronics), at the Rosza Centre, Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, and the National Music Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, December 2017.

These recordings are the subject of research conducted by Sallis and Boyd. They feature recordings at two separate venues:

  1. the Eckhardt-Grammaté Hall (a 384-seat music hall on the University of Calgary Campus), and
  2. the National Music Centre in downtown Calgary.

The recordings from these venues provide a juxtaposition of two performance venues of different size and acoustic characteristics.

The recordings used an MH Acoustics em32, 32-element microphone array on an 84mm sphere.

Hans Tutschku, Zellen-Linien for piano and live electronics (2007).
Performed by Xenia Pestova (piano) and Hans Tutschku (live electronics), at the Rosza Centre, Eckhardt-Grammaté Hall, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, May 2018.

As with the previous contribution, these recordings are the subject of research conducted by the authors, and use the MH Acoustics em32 microphone.


The authors hope that the Space Base repository will become a valued resource for researchers in a variety of fields and encourage those with the appropriate resources to contribute.


The authors also wish to acknowledge the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada for supporting the research that lead to the creation of the repository.


Laura Zattra, Ian Burleigh and Friedemann Sallis (2011), Studying Luigi Nono’s A Pierre. Dell’azzurro silenzio, inquietum (1985) as a performance event, Contemporary Music Review, Vol 30, No 5, p 411-439.

Page last modified on February 14, 2019, at 03:41 PM