Page  00000001 STUDIO REPORT: MUSIC RESEARCH CENTRE, DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC, UNIVERSITY OF YORK Dr Tony Myatt Director Music Research Centre Department of Music University of York Heslington York, YO10 5DD, UK. http://music.york.ac.uk/mrc/ ABSTRACT The Sir Jack Lyons Music Research Centre (mrc) opened in April 2004 as a new addition to the Department of Music at the University of York. This paper describes the concept and design of the Centre, its development and facilities. The mrc was created to provide high quality acoustic spaces for practice based research, technical research and postgraduate training in contemporary applications of technology in music. 1. INTRODUCTION Composition, technical and creative research have been a significant thread of activity at York since the founding of the Department of Music in 1968. The history of work at York, documentation of previous computing resources and approaches to resource provision for research and teaching have been previously presented [1]. This paper will focus on the design, construction and specification of a new ~2.5M facility, currently in its first year of operation. Despite good levels of equipment provision in an academic context [1] it has long been the aim of the Department of Music to establish a centre to provide appropriate acoustic spaces for critical audio and music research. The context for computing provision in this field has changed in recent years to a point where computational performance is less of an issue in many areas of music based research, but the provision of suitable listening, recording, measurement and performance spaces remains a significant factor, e.g. in research in surround sound reproduction, perception and creation. The University of York as a whole is now entering a major period of expansion and will double in size over the next 10 years by adding new departments. This expansion will include a new Department of Film, Theatre and TV which will be closely linked to the Music Department. 2. FUNDING The project to build the mrc followed a complex funding route for an academic capital building programme. Funds were raised through a ten year campaign led by the head of music for much of this period Prof Nicola LeFanu and the now Director of the mrc, Dr Tony Myatt. The University supported a funding strategy in which they matched funds raised by the Department. The fund raising campaign was conducted through the Heslington Foundation for Music and Associated Arts (a charitable foundation), and funds were raised from a combination of generous individual benefactions and grants from other charities and foundations (including the purchase of a Fazioli grand piano for the Rymer Auditorium supported by the UK's Foundation for Sports and the Arts). Sufficient funds were raised to proceed with the building programme The project inevitably followed a series of value engineering exercises to remain within its original budget. Figure 1. Music Research Centre at night, York (photo: Peter Mackinven) 3. MRC DESIGN The mrc was designed by a team who developed a close working relationship with staff of the University and the mrc Director. This team was led by the project architects van Heyningen and Haward. From the outset, van Heyningen and Haward's approach to design involved an established team of consultants who worked together throughout the project under their direction. This ensured that no design decisions were taken that might compromise the building's performance; heating engineers worked closely with acousticians, structural

Page  00000002 engineers etc. to establish a holistic approach to the design and construction of this acoustic led centre'. 3.1. Acoustic Design All acoustically sensitive rooms were modelled on computer by Arup Acoustics prior to construction. Arup designed bespoke, cost effective acoustic treatment solutions for all spaces, which were constructed largely on site. The computer modelling of acoustic spaces and their design is documented in Colam, Orlowski and Hargreaves [2]. 4. SPACES The building design has a number of ecological features, including an automated solar shading system which tracks the sun to prevent excessive heating and glare during daylight hours. The shade system closes at night to provide an additional insulation layer that retains heat. The mrc is built on three floors with the main production facilities and recording studios situated underground. The design of a central stairwell and atrium allows natural light to penetrate into the underground production zone, where the combination of coffee tables, a kitchen and seating provide break-out spaces from the intense working environments of the studios. 4.1. The Arthur Rymer Auditorium The Arthur Sykes Rymer Auditorium is designed for research and experimentation into sound reproduction techniques, as a critical listening environment and as a performance space of 140 seats. It has facilities for video and film projection and a Genelec surround sound system. The space has a fixed seating rake and high specification seats to prevent the seating systems from becoming sources of noise. The space is fitted with support systems for multiple loudspeakers which are designed to allow easy access for adjustment and movement of loudspeaker positions. The space is specified to have a very low noise transfer specification which is greater than PNC 15 (see Figure 5. The auditorium is constructed on a separate foundation from the other spaces of the building and is separated from them by an unbridged, double wall). The room acoustic has been measured by Arup Acoustics as shown in the graph of Figure 22 1The design team were: John Bell and Tim Lynch working with Joanna van Heyningen and Birkin Haward, architects; Raf Orlowski and Stewart Colam, Arup Acoustics; Adam Ritchie and Nigel Marcussen, Max Fordham Ltd.; John Hellier, Price and Myers; Ian Hutchingson, EC Harris. 2All data was measured by Arup Acoustics Ltd. Graphs courtesy of Stewart Colam, Arup Acoustics. The space is air-conditioned by a high volume/low velocity system which operates via lined ducts and two acoustic attenuators. This produces silent air movement in the auditorium. Lighting is controlled by remote dimmer packs to eliminate noise. 0 0.6 0.4 Frequency, Hz Figure 2. Rymer Auditorium: reverberation time in seconds. The Rymer Auditorium is also linked by audio cables to the Jones studio control room and can be used as a recording space. Ethernet cameras provide visual feedback to the control room (or any computer monitor in the centre). 4.2. The Trevor Jones Recording Studio The control room of the Trevor Jones Recording Studio has the acoustic specification shown in Figure 3 and is windowed onto the Jones recording space. The recording space is fitted with a manually operated variable acoustic system which allows the reverberation time to be almost continuously varied from 0.2 to 0.6 seconds, as shown in Figure 4. In addition, the space houses a small, nonresonant environment for dry acoustic recording. or 0. Frequency, Hz Figure 3. York mrc Jones control room and RVW composition studio, reverberation time in seconds.

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Page  00000004 The gallery was constructed to enhance the artistic environment of the centre and provide an opportunity for researchers and visitors to experience contemporary visual work within an audio art based research environment. 5. COMPUTING The mrc has dedicated computing servers and a dedicated network. The centre is connected to the joint academic network in the UK at 1GB/sec. In addition to high performance computing and desktop machines, the centre houses file servers which are used for all audio storage and backup, accessible from any space within the building. The studios, research facilities and research student computers all access the central file servers. The mrc network bandwidth is not shared by other departments of the university. Web servers and internet streaming servers are also housed in the building. The centre has a multi-point wireless network to allow Virtual Private Network access for all users of the facility. The mrc currently runs a wide range of commercial and public domain software for recording, editing, signal processing, interaction and performance applications. 6. ACTIVITIES The centre opened with a series of composer residencies and performances of new work. Resident artists Yasunao Tone, Mark Fell, snd, Richard Chartier, Tina Frank and Ramon Bauer (Mego) all performed work in the centre during the launch festival. Within its first year the centre has hosted recording projects by Metier Records and Gavin Bryers, performances by Vicki Bennet and has become one of the venues for artists appearing at York's annual international festival of digital arts, SightSonic. The centre has become a regular feature of the musical life of the city through various concerts and presentations. Additionally, the mrc was host to the UK's Digital Music Research Network one day conference in 2004, which included industry speakers from Dolby Inc. and contemporary sound artist Oswald Berthold (Farmers Manual). 2005 will see the start of mrcbroadcast which will establish audio and video internet streaming activities from the centre along with low-latency video conferencing for coaching and seminar activities [3]. 7. COURSES AND PROGRAMMES The University of York Department of Music offers the following postgraduate courses based in the new Music Research Centre: * PhD in Music Technology * PhD in Composition * MPhil in Composition * MA/MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in Music Technology * MA by Research in Composition with Digital Media The Music Research Centre is also able to offer Internships associated with a variety of current research projects. 7.1. Visiting composers/researchers We are currently developing a programme to continue our residencies for visiting professional composers and researchers. These provide an opportunity to create new work, with research support, and to present and perform work in an extremely high quality listening environment. 8. CONCLUSIONS The centre focuses on new and creative applications of technology to music, particularly in the creation of electronic music - aesthetic and technical research, sound spatialisation, reproduction and perception, contemporary electronica, digital and post-digital creative applications of technology for music and sound art. The University of York is now well equipped to pursue a series of research programmes, residencies, commissions, performances, archive developments and postgraduate teaching in purpose build accommodation of an international standard. 9. REFERENCES [1] Myatt A. "The Design and implementation of an integrated high performance computer music system for research and postgraduate teaching at the University of York, UK", Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Beijing, China, 1999. [2] Colam S, Orlowski R, Hargreaves J. "Absorbtion and diffusion: Research into practice - York University Music Research Centre." Proc. of the Institute of Acoustics, Research Symposium on Surface Acoustics, Salford, UK, 2003. [3] http://music.york.ac.uk/musiconline/