Floating Sound Gallery

Michael J. Schumacher

Michael J. Schumacher
is a composer, performer and installation artist based in New York City. Working predominantly with electronic and digital media, he creates sound environments that evolve over long time periods. He imbues these generative, algorithmic structures with an abundance of sonic material, resulting in forms that flow through a wide range of moods, timbral combinations and textural densities.
Schumacher’s sound installations have been heard at Art in General, Apex Art, PS 1, The Kitchen and Sculpture Center in New York City, CCNOA in Brussels, Singuhr Gallery and Tesla in Berlin, the Museum for Applied Arts in Frankfurt , the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, Triskel Arts Center in Cork, Ireland, Transmissions Festival and ESS in Chicago, Tone Deaf Festival in Kingston, Ontario, The Sound Art Museum in Rome, )toon Festival in Haarlem, RADAR in Mexico City and others.
Founder and director of Diapason Gallery for sound art – the sole venue in New York City and one of few internationally dedicated to the presentation of multi-channel sound installation.

Room Pieces (series, since 1993).


@ AVA Gallery, New York, 2011

The Room Pieces are modular, algorithmic, multi-channel compositions that explore various modes of listening. Room Pieces define points in space and coordinates these points by the juxtaposition of related sounds, weaving a spatial geometry, a continuously shifting grid of multi-point relations with the listener as axis. Recurring events create grids of remembered time as complements to the geometry of space. Autonomous sound elements combine to form clusters of disparate structures, shifting contexts and remembered places and moments. Personal memories clash with collective; cultural influences inform the reception of compositional decisions. Every element remains highly independent, articulating its unique path into the future, but tied at every moment to coincidental, unpredictable simultaneities.

Filters and Filtered.

Variations (2017).


(c) ursula scherrer

this set of pieces applies the classical idea of variation to spatialization techniques. sounds – sonorities, motifs, phrases – are transformed through placement in a variety of sonorous spaces, which act somewhat like filters, emphasizing specific perceptual aspects. in contrast to the classical method there are no clearly stated “themes”, but rather a continual process of spatial redistribution.

two exemplars that informed my compositional process were webern’s variations op. 27 and the late, short prose works of beckett such as ping; the webern for its clarity of construction, its specific technique of variation and its referencing of past procedures to achieve new results; the beckett for the “aha” moment it inspired when its underlying structure became evident, revealing its radical take on point-of-view, a perceptual shift like re-interpreting a reversible figure.

“variations” began as performances on the “portable multi-channel sound system”, a complete 12 channel system that fits in a suitcase, with which i’ve been gigging for the past couple of years. performances on this system involve interacting with algorithmic processes that engender the basic structural aspects of the music including not only pitch, rhythm and timbre but also spatial parameters, which determine distribution among the 12 speakers, as well as eq settings, delay and reverb mix. recordings of a number of performances were edited and manipulated and ultimately reduced to 8 channels.

from the start, it was my intention to explore the possibilities of recreating the sense of immersion one experiences in multi-channel listening within a stereo field. therefore, the stereo versions of variations aren’t intended as reference tracks or substitutes for the “real thing”, but as fully realized statements in their own right, with perhaps a shift in emphasis from spatial characteristics to the act of filtering.

the set, 12 pieces in all, is available in three formats: stereo uncompressed files for download; stereo mp3s for streaming; 8 channel .wav files for playback, via the daw of ones choice, on an 8 channel sound system. additionally, contour editions is offering a complete system for 8 channel playback which includes the files on ssd card, a “waveplayer” device, amplifier and 8 custom speakers made with high quality drivers and improvised resonators. an example of this complete system is shown in the linked photos.

Michael J. Schumacher on Room Pieces @ Gogolfest, FSG pavilion (Kiev, 2010):