Themes and activities

Dr René Mogensen
Dr René Mogensen was a guest presenter for Colloquium #1 in March 2017.

Each academic year the NOVARS research centre produces a series of research group activities such as:

  • NOVARS matinees
  • MANTIS activities (Festival events and tours)
  • Collaborative research projects
  • Focused symposia
  • Residence scheme (for artists and enginners)
  • Composer and research forums in Music
  • Research assemblage groups
  • Colloquium guest debates
  • Coupland hub (space for student-built projects)

Find out more

NOVARS matinees

Informal listening and sound diffusion discussion sessions presented by students, staff and special guests, typically on Thursdays; from 11.30am to 12.50pm.

Since 2009 we have been live broadcasting and podcasting them, with the hope of creating an audiovisual collection of knowledge and sonic memories.

Sines and Squares Festival

'Sines and Squares' is one of UK's first festivals and concert series celebrating the recent resurgence of analogue and modular synthesizers. Featuring some of the most renowned UK and international performers, composers, lecturers and designers working with Buchla, Serge, Eurorack, Hordijk and EMS modular systems.

A novel workshop from Tom Bugs of Bugbrand introduced attendees to building their own analogue synthesizer/processor. The event featured Rob Hordijk (The Hague), one of the most most creative designers in modular synthesis today, and presented five concerts of live modular free improvisation and fixed media compositions rooted in modular synthesis. It also included theoretical "Patchbay Sessions" with papers and presentations focused on modular synthesis, a Modular Lounge (system demos) and installation performances and the MANTIS System.

MANTIS activities

Created in 2004, the MANTIS Festival is held twice a year; typically in October and March. These two long-weekend events include a series of performances and workshops. We have an annual call out for pieces.

Although usually held at the University of Manchester, the festival has a clear vocation to reach out to new audiences. We aim to do this through collaborating with other institutions to co-share the festival. Examples of this have been with the Sonic Arts Expo in 2006 (MANTIS-EXPO) and with the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts (LICA-MANTIS) in 2008.

In parallel to the festival, MANTIS promotes MANTIS-in-Motion, which consists of organising MANTIS concerts abroad.

Network projects and symposia

NOVARS people are often immersed on a number of network projects, working together as a research group.

Examples of network projects:

  • NESS project
  • Music4Media
  • S.LOW projekt
  • Timbila project
  • Tornado project
  • SonicMaps
  • LocativeAudio
  • South-North
  • MANTIS-in-Motion
  • We also organise residencies abroad.

More to explore

Residency scheme

Back in 2008, NOVARS launched two Residency Schemes for Artists and Engineers, to procure the advancement of existing areas of research and to commission new work.

Since 2009 we have run an artist-in-residence scheme, investing locally with the Trio Atem and providing opportunities to local musicians and former graduates to stretch a longer relationship with our centre.

NOVARS strongly encourages its postgraduate students and researchers to apply for funds and schemes in order to undertake residencies abroad, aiming to increase the awareness of research collaborations and culture among our research community. A number of postgraduate composers have taken residencies abroad.

Composer and research forums in Music

Although primarily focused on music composition, the entire Music research community is welcome. Presentations are given by guest composers, members of staff, postgraduates, and there is a degree of vocational interface when publishers or members of the BBC, for example, are invited to speak.

Along with the composer workshops held throughout the academic year, these forums help to provide training for postgraduate composers. Composer workshops feature Psappha, the Music department's contemporary ensemble-in-association, and all postgraduate composers are given the opportunity to have at least one of their works performed professionally.

Research assemblage groups

A research assemblage is a group of people who share similar research interests and who gather, collect, aggregate and assemble knowledge which may take their individual learning a step further.

Each assemblage may be associated with a single research focus, or may stretch across more than one subject area, encompassing existing research.

Individuals may belong to one or more research assemblage.

Colloquium guest debates

A new research activity begun in 2017, Colloquium consists of invited guest debates on technology-related 'trendy topics' to stimulate postgraduates thinking on emerging research.

Our first Colloquium guest was Dr René Mogensen who joined us to talk about 'Machine Improvisation in Music and Artificial Intelligence' in March 2017.

Coupland hub

Coupland hub is an eco-system builder space started by NOVARS as a framework to facilitate projects built by students.

The hub allows for the exploration, discussion and understanding of how our subject areas can encourage entrepreneurship projects and knowledge-transfer in the intersections of research, technology and society.

Audification and Sonification

Audification, sonification, data analysis and interpretation. Numerical information flow, from the perspective of sound and musical creativity.

UNSuPeRViSEd - Machine Learning for Music

uNsupErviSed is a new concert series created by the Machine Learning for Music (ML4M) Working Group – a community of composers and audiovisual artists exploring the creative use of emerging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies led by PRiSM Lecturer in Composition, Dr. Sam Salem and Professor Ricardo Climent, Professor of Interactive Music Composition and Director of NOVARS Research Centre at The University of Manchester.