Artistic Practices Between Soundscape + Landscape

Hugh Livingston
6 Sessions »Thursdays, February 22–March 29

6:30–9:30pm | Studio 18 | $295

No prerequisite. No musical background or programming experience required.


This class will delve into arts and histories of outdoor music-making, mapping neighborhoods, and understanding sensory environments in which we live, work, and play. You will have the opportunity to compose personal music, create a handheld device app, build a hand-drawn or online soundmap, and program soundscapes for a public space. Participants from summer 2017’s Escape, With Landscape and Soundscape will be able to travel deeper into these areas of inquiry, with new exercises and ideas, and new students will be led through our learnings from the summer into a highly engaged level of artmaking, sensory observation, and ecological participation. Themes to be explored:


Landscapes: Built, Imaginary, Virtual, Utopian: Develop generative landscapes, exploring points of view from historical landscape painting to virtual and augmented realities, animation, dystopian and utopian landscapes.

Bioacoustic Partitioning: Defining Sound Space: Capturing nature sounds in your area, you will craft a musical composition that responds to the environment, using accessible software that provides rhythm detection, pitch analysis, and countermelody generation. We will conduct fieldwork in urban and rural environments, culminating with a musical composition that draws on a given sonic environment.

Performance and Landscape Context: Traveling to a Bay Area site to explore performance action and space, we will use bodies, vocalizations, and found natural objects as percussion instruments to discover rhythms and textures which illuminate the outdoors, matching movement to landscape. We will look at histories of traditional and contemporary arts, and consider yodeling, Native American prairie singing, and the shepherd’s flute.

Sound & Sanctuary: We will consider how sound creates individual calm, and extensions to public space. The phenomenon of the personal soundtrack will be explored and expanded upon, as we parse the soundscape into the sonic and the acoustic, and discover solutions for personal and public benefit.

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Hugh Livingston creates large-scale digital media installations related to natural and built spaces. Hugh graduated cum laude in music from Yale, recipient of the Bach Society Prize for excellence in musicianship. He has an MFA in contemporary music from the California Institute of the Arts and a doctorate from UC San Diego. Hugh composes situational music: responses to spaces, landscapes, history and people. He has catalogued 120 different pizzicato techniques for the cello and conducted research in China on contemporary and historical music. His most recent publication is on contemporary sound garden design, from Harvard University Press.

He has composed a large-scale outdoor opera to be performed on a river, and is artist in residence at the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Washington, DC. He has been the McKnight Foundation Fellow Composer in Residence in Minneapolis, and is the recipient of numerous grants from foundations such as Rockefeller, Getty, Doris Duke, Andrew Mellon, Fleishhacker, and Haas. Hugh is a 2016-17 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at Fort Mason.