The way we listen to music is changing along with technology, and IU’s vocal ensemble NOTUS is at the forefront of it all.
NOTUS will work with IU’s Audio Engineering and Sound Recording Department, in association with Professor Konrad Strauss’ Immersive Audio class, to record music in 360-degree sound, an inventive new way to listen to music, on Saturday, Oct. 8.
NOTUS, directed by Dominick DiOrio, a professor of music at the Jacobs School of Music, is a student vocal ensemble specializing in performing modern classical music that highlights the diverse landscape of America.
“When we’re trying to represent our world in music, it should represent the demographics of our world as closely as we can,” DiOrio said. “It’s inspiring for students to see their stories and identities represented on stage.”
The vocal ensemble is transcending the stage and moving to the recording studio to practice recording in 360-degree sound. This form of recording allows the listener to hear different orientations of a piece as they move their head.
“If the voice is in front of you and you turn, you would then hear a different voice from this new angle,” DiOrio said.
The vertical sound element allows DiOrio to stagger his ensemble on various levels in the recording booth to fully embrace all the potential in performing a piece by composer Stephen Murphy.
“The work we’re doing is ‘Oh Perfect Love,’” DiOrio said. “It was written for the Oakwood Aeolians, an amazing chorus from Oakwood University.”
For an added challenge, DiOrio gave his chorus members the music five days before the recording session.
“I wanted to give them a challenge I knew they could meet,” DiOrio said. “They’re highly skilled and excellent. I also wanted to give them new music we hadn’t done yet by a composer from the African American choral tradition.”
The layers that can be unearthed through 360-degree sound is something DiOrio is extremely excited about, he said. DiOrio finds the new recording process allows for an intimate level of listening not previously available.
“You can actually hear the differentiation of the individual voices,” he said. “When we hear a chorus from the audience, we usually hear a composite sound that the [performance] hall creates, but this gives you the chance to feel like you’re right there in the midst of the chorus as they’re singing.”
DiOrio is excited for the future of NOTUS and the art of music as the field changes with the technology used to preserve it. He said the more recordings like this that are made, the greater the reach the music community can develop.
“This community is mutually self-supporting because everyone feels that they can belong in this space even if they didn’t initially think they could,” DiOrio said. “They inspire a greater sense of the whole.”