This summer, postgraduate students across the Reid School of Music are working towards submitting their final projects. For some, the project is practical; for others, it’s a dissertation. In this series, we meet a number of the students and hear about their masters-level study at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Here, the spotlight is on Sound Design - MSc by Research student, Kirsty Keatch.

Kirsty is a sound designer, creative programmer and digital curator. Having graduated with First Class Honours from our Music Technology - BMus (Hons) programme, she describes doing a Masters degree by research as “a natural progression. I enjoy the international dynamic here and the exciting approaches to sound. I am in my element experimenting with all the different things sound and music can be”.

Her final project focusses on processes for developing dynamic sound participations, mediated through the familiarity of the smartphone and game driven experiences. As she says “It's a valuable area of study because, despite enormous smartphone uptake, there are still opportunities to design better and more accessible user experiences, on account of rapidly evolving sound and mobile technologies”.

Katakata, Hedra and Freq

Kirsty’s project is being presented as a portfolio of sound design:

Katakata is a sound installation, where visitors to a gallery can manipulate the sound and movement of a kinetic sound sculpture by way of their smartphone. Kirsty was delighted to be given the opportunity to present the work at the Talbot Rice Gallery in 2015 as part of the Gap in the Air festival of sonic art.

Hedra is an infinite scrolling game for iOS and Android, with an innovative mechanic whereby the player rotates 3D shapes to land them on a series of platforms. It has been presented at various gaming events which, as Kirsty says, “has been great for gathering feedback”.

Freq is a sound game for smartphone, exploring audio Pelmanism, where players listen for pairs of matching frequencies, useful in ear and memory training.

What I’ve learned and future plans

Asked about her experience of the project, Kirsty says “One of the interesting things to come out of the research was discovering a technique for integrating procedural audio in the Unity game engine.

As the smartphone has many competing requirements for storage space, the benefit of procedural audio is that it saves space by building sound from scratch, instead of using recorded sounds that increase the game size.

As for future plans…, I would like to become part of Scotland's thriving computer game industry and take some of my ideas for gamifying sound to incubator schemes”.

Are you interested in studying Sound Design at ECA?

We offer postgraduate MSc programmes in Sound Design and Sound Design by Research.

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