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Major new art work made possible by music research

Posted on 17 February 2009

University of York expertise is at the heart of a spectacular contemporary art project unveiled in Seville and set to feature in leading galleries around the world.

The Morning Line, a 17-tonne aluminium structure eight metres high and 21 metres long, features a complex sound system developed specially for the project by the University of York’s Music Research Centre.

In addition to its striking visual impact, The Morning Line is a space designed to allow people to experience sound in a new way. The Music Research Centre was commissioned to work on the project last year because of its formidable reputation in the field of surround sound technology.

The Morning Line was conceived by New York-based artist Matthew Ritchie, working with architects Aranda/Lasch and civil engineers Arup AGU, and was commissioned by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary foundation (T-B A21) led by Francesca von Habsburg, one the leading figures in the world of contemporary art.

Galleries all over the world are now exhibiting spatial sound art. It’s rewarding to be at the forefront of that work and to be doing it with partners who work to such an incredibly high standard

Dr Tony Myatt, Director of the Music Research Centre

The structure is the second in a series of contemporary architectural pavilions commissioned and developed by T-B A21. It is currently on display at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, in Seville, after being unveiled at the city’s Biennial of Contemporary Art and discussions are already underway with galleries around the world with a view to further exhibitions.

Dr Tony Myatt, Director of the Music Research Centre, said: "This was a considerable technical challenge that involved calculating appropriate locations for the 53 speakers placed in the structure and devising a computer system and software to co-ordinate them, in order to produce a flawless three dimensional surround sound experience.

"The software also supports the creation of spatial audio works and can move hundreds of simultaneous sounds in different parts of the sculpture to produce complex, multifaceted soundfields.

"For many years we’ve pursued theoretical research related to the perception and creation of surround sound which we’ve been able to put into practice. It’s also exciting to be working with some of the most talented and significant artists, curators and commissioning organisations in the world.

"Galleries all over the world are now exhibiting spatial sound art. It’s rewarding to be at the forefront of that work and to be doing it with partners who work to such an incredibly high standard."

Eight new pieces of music have been specially commissioned for The Morning Line in Seville using the computer and software system developed by Dr Myatt along with his team of postgraduate students and staff. The team worked closely with all the artists during the creation of their work.

The Centre has also been asked to support the composers commissioned for future installations of The Morning Line, and to continue working with T-B A21 on the development of software for future installations of the piece.

Francesca von Habsburg said: "I have to thank Tony Myatt for making this possible. Without his profound experience of sound production, I am convinced that we would not be where we are today with this project. This is a dream come true."


Notes to editors:

  • Images of The Morning Line can be downloaded from
  • Stereo examples of the music heard by visitors to The Morning Line can be found here.
  • The Music Research Centre is part of the University of York’s Department of Music. It promotes and supports creative research into the use and application of technology in music. It is housed in a building with extensive facilities designed to the highest acoustic standard.
  • Information about the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary foundation is available at

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James Reed
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