SSMN intends to develop a conceptual framework and a tool set that allows composers to integrate spatialization in musical notation from the onset of the creation process.
As the composition takes form and graphic symbols expressing spatialization is introduced into the score, instant audio rendering provides feedback within a surround sound configuration.
In parallel, SSMN helps interpreters and audio engineers to learn and master scores that contain complex instructions of motion in space easily recognizable both in printed and animated electronic format.

At first a SSMN Spatial Taxonomy was established to identify key motion in space possibilities within musical context; consequently, a collection of SSMN Symbols has been designed and implemented in a software library of graphical objects within a dedicated editor, “MuseScoreSSMN”,  that has been developed to allow interactive use of this library along with common western music notation (CWMN).
In order to bridge the gap between visual elements and audio perception, an SSMN-Rendering-Engine application is at the heart of OSC inter-application communication strategies allowing the use of DAW and user-defined programming environments along with MuseScoreSSMN.

A prototype has been prepared and tested by a user group consisting of composers and performers. Further research shall address other user cases integrating electroacoustic paradigms.


Notation of spatialization, Symbolic music representation, Graphic score editing, Spatiomorphology, Audio rendering of musical scores, Live electronics composition, Taxonomy of space.

This is a research project from the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology ( ICST ) at the ZHdK ( Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ) in Zürich .

Research Team:

Emile Ellberger / Germán Toro-Pérez / Giorgio Zoia / Christian Schweizer / Johannes Schütt / Linda Cavaliero / Basile Zimmermann

SSMN team members biographies

Emile Ellberger has been applying his skills in electroacoustics and digital audio research ever since 1969. As composer, researcher and teacher he has concentrated on issues of physical space and physiological response to sound motion. While integrating spatialization engineering into his musical output, spatialization being an inherent ingredient of musical performance, he investigated new strategies in musical notation of spatialization, and in 2004, he began researching into scoring for WFS (Wave Field Synthesis) with Giogio Zoia at the EPFL (2004-2005). Consequently, he undertook a research project on spatial vocabulary and paradigms in Geneva and led a symposium with Bertrand Merlier (2005a). This ongoing research developed into the premises of the present SSMN submission. In parallel, at the Physics Department of the University of Geneva, he researched into spatial multi-media interactivity and designed his audio/video system Cosmophone-II (2004-2007). In the ICST 2008 Sommerkurs in Zurich, he taught the seminar on practical applications in audio spatialization in art installations. A large number of his multi-channel compositions have been created in collaboration with artists, physicians (2005b) and sculptors (2008). As professor of electroacoustics and founder of the computer music division at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Genève he organized events and supervised the live-electronics works of student composers wherein spatialization was a primary objective. In this context, he initiated and coordinated collaborations with various institutions (IRCAM, RSR, HES Beaux Arts, AMEG), and lectured on audio applications in installations at the Haute Ecole des Beaux Arts (2001-2006).

Johannes Schütt has done intensive spatialization research work on tool development for implementation of ambisonics with Gerald Bennett at the Swiss Center for Computer Music. Since 2005 at the ICST, he helped to develop VST plug-ins together with Dave Malham (University of York), C-Sound Instruments and the first generation of Max/MSP Tools. As the person responsible for the computer music studio and for the composers’ residencies program at the ICST, Johannes Schütt worked as Musical Assistant to various composers (1). Through his collaboration with them, he was confronted with managing various parameters of spatialization (i.e. orchestration of sound in space, controlling distance, trajectories and masses, virtual room characteristics, etc.). The issue of graphical symbolic representation arose when scoring was needed. As a result, several at temps led to the formalization of the concept of a catalogue of spatialization symbols that could be available to composers and be understood by interpreters. As a composer and interpreter (clarinetist), he has experimented with spatialization notation in his compositions and is currently involved in SSMN research. (Schuett et al. 2010), (Schuett 2007, 2008). Today, Johannes Schütt’s activities include courses for computer music students and master students in electroacoustic composition, and continues his activities as Musical Assistant for visiting composers and the performance of their pieces in concert.

Giorgio Zoia has worked for nine years at EPFL as assistant and scientific advisor in multimedia and signal processing; all along those years he developed research interests spanning from virtual architectures and fast execution engines for digital audio processing, 3D spatialization, audio synthesis and coding, representations and description of sound, interaction and intelligent user interfaces for media control.
He has been actively collaborating with MPEG since 1997, receiving three times the ISO Certificate of Appreciation for work in the audio and systems groups, including one for being co-editor of the synthetic and natural hybrid coding of sound (Structured Audio) and the last one for being chair and co-editor of the Symbolic Music Representation ad-hoc group. This last activity started with a proposal of the MusicNetwork European network of excellence and led to several workshops and development meetings with worldwide experts in the domain of music representation, notation, editing and distribution. An international MPEG standard has been developed in parallel and finally approved by ISO in 2008 for symbolic music representation in electronic format (MPEG-4 SMN); during the last phase of this standardization process, Giorgio Zoia was involved in the SSMN initiative providing technical consulting and IT engineering support. He has also collaborated in the last few years in contemporary music concerts with live electronics and in multimedia artistic expositions in Switzerland and abroad.

Germán Toro Pérez is composer, professor for electroacoustic composition and director of the ICST. The study and use of typomorphologies as well as the use of different strategies to represent and describe sound in a discursive or in a graphic manner root on eleven years of experience teaching analysis of electroacoustic music at university level (1999-2010). A paper on composition theory of electroacoustic music deals with the difference between stereo and two-channel and the consequences from the point of view of musical form (Toro Pérez, 2007). There is a connection to another actual DORE-submission (Disembodied Voice) concerning research of sound typomorphologies. Anyway, the focus on sound typology within artistic research at ICST is new. His catalogue of works includes over 50 compositions for different instrumental groups and media. Among them there are several compositions with different formats and strategies of spatialization (Toro Pérez, 2010a, 2010b, 2006), (Schuett, Toro Pérez & Schuetz, 2010).

Linda Cavaliero (SSMN Designer)
BACHELOR IN ARTS & DESIGN, section  MEDIA, Central Saint Martins, Londres
DIPLOMA in Foundation studies in Arts & Design, Central Saint Martins, Londres
GRAPHISME et WEB DESIGN free-lance 2003-2011
selon les projets: site web, ligne graphique, logo, flyer, affiche, carte de visite, portfolio, photographie
REALISATION et MONTAGE  free-lance 2003-2011
2008-2011 Prise de vue, montage vidéo, création de DVDs ; 2006-2010: Conception d’une vingtaine de vidéos ; 2007 Création d’un morphing ; 2004-2005: Réalisation de documentaire et Montage vidéo
Installations vidéo, exposition: Galerie Hors-Jeu (2004 Genève), Freud Museum (2001 Londres), Bar Local (1999 Barcelone), Central Saint Martins (1998 et 2002 Londres)

Basile Zimmermann is Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where he teaches China studies and conducts research in the fields of Chinese studies, science and technology studies, and sociology of art. He is also director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Geneva, a platform for scientific exchange between China and the West. He is the author of Waves and Forms: Electronic Music Devices and Computer Encodings in China (MIT Press, Inside Technology, 2015).