Thomas Grill: Machine based comparative studies

This talk shall provide some insights into the possibilities and challenges of machine based analysis of electroacoustic music, and specifically its application for comparative studies. The examples will be chosen from works by Iannis Xenakis, who, as other composers, has re-used concrete sound materials in his compositions within pieces and also across pieces. Machine based methods provide tools to trace such occurences of materials and their interrelations, thereby uncovering structure in concrete music. Sound processing and transformations, like filtering, tempo/pitch changes, mixing, etc., as well as noise artefacts, require refined strategies of inquiry, often guided by listening experience or visual cues. Despite various shortcomings, machine based methods can provide valuable aids for analysts in the presence of expansive works and indistinct or varied sound material.


Thomas Grill works as a composer and performer of electroacoustic music, as a media artist, technologist and researcher of sound. His artistic work encompasses most varied fields of audible and trans-media art, focusing on loudspeaker-based music, electroacoustic improvisation, as well as installations and interventions. His education includes studies of technical physics in Linz, of computer music and electronic media and of interactive electronic instruments in Vienna. He earned a doctorate in composition and music theory at the University for Music and Performing Arts, Graz. Post-Doc research followed at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI) in the domain of machine listening and learning. He is currently heading the Certificate Program in Electroacoustic and Experimental Music and the project of artistic research “Rotting sounds” at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Grill has been awarded with a Honorary Mention of the Prix Ars Electronica, with the Theodor-Körner prize, the Award of Excellence of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Outstanding Artist Award for Interdisciplinarity (Bonus prize) of the Austrian Federal Chancellery and various work stipends.