Workshop program

Scroll down to read the abstract of the speakers' presentations.

9:00 - 9:30
Welcome and registration

9:30 - 10:00
Opening and greetings from the authorities

10:00 - 11:00
Keynote lecture by William Storm

11:00 - 11:30
Coffee Break

11:30 - 13:00

Session 1 - chair: Federica Bressan

Nadja Wallaszkovitz, Between Standards And Arts: Digitisation And Restoration Of Audio Material – A Balancing Act Between Authenticity And Manipulation?
George Brock-Nannestad, What Has Changed? Why Our Approaches To Recorded Sound Need To Incorporate A Special "Digital Philology"
Marc Leman, Archiving And Preservation Of Tape Music And Multimedia Installations

13:00 - 15:00
Lunch break and guided tour through the Villa

15:00 - 16:30

Session 2 - chair: Angela Ida De Benedictis

Matthias Kassel, Strangers In Paper Paradise: On Audio Sources In The Manuscript Collections Of The Paul Sacher Foundation
Brecht Declercq, Developing A National Strategy For The Digitisation, Sustainable Storage And Access Of Audiovisual Heritage
Veniero Rizzardi, Digitized Tapes For A Philological Approach To Performance: The Acousmatic Rendition Of Luigi Nono's Works For Live Sources And Tape

16:30- 17:30
Round table / discussion

18:00 - 19:00

Concert/lecture with "Y entonces comprendió" by Luigi Nono

Live Electronics: Alvise Vidolin
Audio system: Matteo Costa
Introduction: Veniero Rizzardi

Thanks to Casa Ricordi for supporting the Workshop.


Keynote lecture by William Storm

For far too many years audio archives around the world have given too little time, money and effort to developing scientifically defensible transfer methodologies. There are very understandable reasons for this. The time-driven challenge of just trying to save the physical copies of the original recordings is staggering. In many cases, the very real threat of losing the sonic content has made it necessary to hurriedly transfer the audio signal from the original medium to alternate recording systems and media. Not surprisingly, not all the means and resources are currently in place to do the optimal job in re-recording the audio content with any kind of assurance of maintaining its integrity. Furthermore there are archivists that have little interest in moving beyond a subjective approach to re-recording techniques. A fresh view is needed to evaluate potential solutions to these short-comings.

One of the roadblocks to achieving better strategies is an often made assumption that major archives and archive associations have the requisite expertise to solve all of the problems. They don't. The size of an archive or its institutional or private affiliations does not in itself certify that its practices and procedures are quantifiably correct or better than another organisation or individual's approach. As this pertains to transfer methodologies, more archivists need to comprehend what differentiates the actual skill sets of a practicing transfer engineer and those of an investigative scientist/research engineer. Although there are engineers competent to work in both domains, the primary day to day job focus is not the same. Audio archive engineering is in its infancy with yet so much to learn and improve upon. Sadly what little is known is about to be lost forever and represents the number one looming time-driven crisis facing audio archives. The culprit is life expectancy – human life expectancy.

There are few remaining transfer engineers alive with first-hand experience with legacy audio equipment and associated recordings. Their knowledge and actual techniques must be captured by all means possible. However, no safeguard system has been developed to objectively ascertain how their technical choices may be influencing the sonic outcome. That's a problem. Do we know if all the current experienced transfer engineers follow the same procedures and using comparable equipment based on agreed upon best practices? If so, what were the metrics that determined these practices and technical choices? If there are variations how do we determine which outcome has validity for archival masters versus which may need to be discarded as inappropriate? Do common approaches like “flat “re-recording all of the signal including noise really represent the best or correct way to tackle the problem? What we do know is we need to take into account what, why and how they did their work and build upon their strengths while not repeating weaknesses. Unlike records, we will never have the chance to find a copy of these pioneering individuals.

Striving for that level of oversight and objectivity in transfer methodologies has been dismissed by some archivists as neither possible nor practical and, by others as an affront to their perception of re-recording as an “art.” With so much to do in so little time, those reactionary stances need to be constructively challenged. In this year 2015, science and modern communications exist that may be used to dramatically improve the accuracy, and speed of transfer processes, as well as provide a roadmap for training future engineers. The time to open a dialog about this potential is now.

William Storm, USA


Presentation by George Brock-Nannestad

It is a global trend that sound will be handled digitally in the broadest sense. This means that almost all access will be via a digital medium. "Digital" is commonly considered to be transparent and reliable and hence without any need for reflection and critical approach. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Born-digital" is commonly regarded as a stamp of quality and is considered to be a linear and undistorted representation of an original sound in air or perhaps of a synthesised product. This has changed materially with the democratisation of access to recording: "born-digital" now frequently means one of several types of physiologically data-reduced formats. Different formats create different digital files. Hence one and the same content may be represented by different versions. For this reason a philological approach to the extraction of information becomes essential. The fundamentals of philology are wellknown but the application in the digital domain requires special digital tools, which are not yet available. A need for such tools has not even been suspected!

In the other case - analogue material converted to digital files - we have a parallel problem: the original system comprising generator/sound recording/reproducing equipment is broken by a transfer to digital, but the transfer must under no circumstances generate artefacts that cause a misrepresentation of the intended content. Certain important manipulations can only be performed in the analogue domain, unless the transfer is structured very carefully, and certain important digital manipulations need a very careful understanding of the digital version of the analogue original. For this reason we need a comprehensive understanding of the intended and ancillary information represented by the original and we need to ensure its co-transfer.

The paper will structure the various aspects and establish a number of requirements that have to be fulfilled by a digital approach to content extraction and utilisation. A number of examples will be discussed.


Presentation by Brecht Declercq

The classic challenges for audiovisual heritage today are well known: carriers of audiovisual information degrade very quickly almost invariably and playback technology becomes obsolete. In addition, audiovisual media play an increasingly important role in our society, and the demand for easy access to cultural heritage in the form of audiovisual media increases in parallel, coming from different angles, such as education, scientific research or the general public. The answer to these challenges is equally classic: digitisation and sustainable storage of digitised or born digital material. But digitisation and long-term storage are technically complex and costly, while audiovisual archive collections are spread across a very wide range of institutions and organisations. So if we want to concede as little as possible when it comes to quality, and time is not on our side, we better develop a very cost efficient approach.

This paper discusses the national strategy developed and implemented in Flanders in order to meet this challenge. This strategy is based on a joint approach of libraries, archives, museums and broadcasters using economies of scale, a special care for quality, combined technical expertise and customer satisfaction. It is coordinated by VIAA, the Flemish Institute for Archiving.

VIAA was founded at end of 2012 by the Flemish government with a mission to preserve the audiovisual heritage of Flanders in a sustainable manner and to make it accessible to everyone. To achieve that objective VIAA works in three areas: digitisation, archiving and interaction. In the paper and presentation, these three activities are presented based on examples of archive collections. They focus on VIAA's five core values:
  1. VIAA acts as a networked service organisation, so it is not an archival institution in the classical sense. It makes use of the knowledge and expertise existing among its partners and ensures that they can achieve their goals easier, better and more efficiently. VIAA is also versatile and an important link in the Flemish digital infrastructure.
  2. VIAA considers preservation, storage and access not as static, but as active processes. A qualitative and cost effective digitisation is followed by a long term preservation striving to meet the increasingly stringent standards in this domain, even in a world where digital formats are constantly evolving. Access and re-use should not only be allowed but also encouraged, because they reaffirm constantly the social legitimacy of the audiovisual heritage, which can be considered a long-term preservation measure in itself.
  3. VIAA will actively encourage users to use digital archive material, to increase the digital competences in Flanders via education among others. This objective is realized through libraries, public websites and on site. VIAA tailors its offerings continuously to the demand of different target groups in order to maximize its effectiveness.
  4. The position of VIAA as an important node in the Flemish digital infrastructure, the long-term relationship with its partners and the nature of the mission of VIAA all create high demands on its functioning. VIAA therefore strives to measurable operational excellence and a transparent way of communicating. VIAA wants to be a reliable long-term partner, a sustainable organisation with a sustainable supply.
  5. VIAA wants to be demand driven, but innovative at the same time. Questions from its customers, both content providers and the re-users, must be translated into concrete services, and satisfy early adapters as well as followers. Simultaneously VIAA has an important role as a catalyst for innovation. VIAA wants to make it easier for other organisations to roll out innovative services themselves and to react quickly to new developments. The VIAA infrastructure must not only be beneficial for its direct partners, but also for start-ups and the local industry while creating, testing and deploying new technologies and services.


Presentation by Matthias Kassel

Planned and established as an archive for composers' manuscript in the 1980s, the collections housed at the Paul Sacher Foundation (Paul Sacher Stiftung, PSS) today mirror the media developments in music composition of the 20th and 21st centuries. Although the core of the archived documentation has been – and still is – consisting mostly of paper documents (sketches, drafts, scores, etc.) and their modern digital successors, the audio-visual components expanding music composition since more than 50 years add materials of all different kinds to the archives. This challenges the conservational efforts in several ways, affecting staff management, budget planning, technical facilities, long-term storage, in-house accessibility, and more. And it has to be applied on sections of the archive which, at best, are considered as secondary against the precious handwritten sources. In this way, the PSS shares problems with many mixed archives and specialized archives with deviating particles (and is the counterpart to the tape music collection plus additions, as described by Marc Leman in this workshop). In general, such a classification might be considerable when comparing an autograph score with a recording of that same piece. But it fails when we come to the more experimental and media based compositions, where audio and video processing gets essential in the compositional process and in the final works themselves. Focusing mainly on audio tapes, I will try to describe strategies of the PSS to handle these challenges, from the early attempts to digitize audio in the 1990s, up to the special project on digital preservation of Luciano Berio's tapes, currently in progress at the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale in Padova.


Presentation by Marc Leman

In this talk I will present the state of the art of the IPEM tape music collection, and the ongoing effort in digitalisation and preservation of the archive. This tape music collection was built up, mainly in the 1960ies and 1970ies. It contains a testimony of the electronic and mixed media of that time, also known as avant-garde music. An overview is given of the state of the art in digitising this archive in collaboration with VIAA (Flemish Institute for Audiovisual Archiving). Particular attention is also drawn to other types of documents (texts, letters, photographs, videos and so on) that accompany this collection, providing a rich context for the archive. Based on the state of the art of the work on this archive, I will move to the current area in which tapes have been replaced by computer programs, sensors, and interactive installations of all kind. Based on a concrete interactive multimedia installation developed at IPEM, an overview is given of the state-of-the-art in archiving this type of "document". It is argued that new approaches to archiving may be needed in order to document Europe's current unique development in art.


Presentation by Nadja Wallaszkovitz

Within the broad discussion of technologies and algorithms for the digitisation and restoration of audio signals, the question of evaluation of the sounding result of audio transfers and restorations is still underrepresented. Why does it sound as it sounds? The paper outlines the implication of different signal processing procedures and compares the professional guidelines of the audio archiving world with classical restoration in cultural heritage. What is lost in a conventional transfer? A wide knowledge about the original source and its production process, artistic intentions, storage conditions and re-recording influences is essential to properly decide if and how artefacts should be restored in a historically and ethically accurate way. Starting with a critical assessment of the source material and its artefacts, exemplified by means of measurements, spectral analyses and audio examples, the discussion addresses ethical and aesthetical questions and traces the various stages between restoration, re-issue, re-mastering and re-interpretation. Practical experiences with specially demanding materials are outlined to explore the various stages between information carrier and artistic object.


Presentation by Veniero Rizzardi

Archival tapes could be invaluable documents for study and analysis when one investigates the creative process, especially in the case of early electroacoustic compositions. But they may have other uses as well, and even a second life as tools for actual performances. The paper takes into account the case of present-day ‘acousmatic rendition’ of some works for live sources and fixed media that Luigi Nono composed at the Studio di Fonologia of the RAI, Milan, in the course of the 1960s. The concept of ‘acousmatic rendition’ has been introduced by Alvise Vidolin and myself while trying to restage some of those works, originally to be performed by several live instruments and voices with multi-channel sound projection of a 4- to 8-track tape, substituting the live parts with their ‘copies’ on fixed media. The aim was to maintain the original spatial configuration of the sound sources – an essential aspect of Nono’s compositional conception and performance prcatice as well – while making the voices of the original performers audible again, whereas those specific performers were essential in defining the musical text itself. Three works will be discussed, which represent from our perspective as many different cases of approaches in dealing with archival tapes and their use in performance.

In collaboration with:

And with the patronage of:

Regione Veneto Provincia di Padova Città di Piazzola sul Brenta