Spatial Audio: Composing Soundscapes, RISD Summer Programs course

Spatial Audio: Composing Soundscapes

Across creative industries—including interaction and product design, gaming, cinema, performing arts, installation art, public art, architecture and music—designers and artists are seeking powerful ways to envelop listeners in composed soundscapes. In parallel, advances in 3D immersive sound technologies are increasingly accessible, having kept pace with visual simulation methods such as virtual reality and 360-degree video.

This intensive course focuses on the creation of spatial audio experiences. Students analyze and explore how the sensation of space is activated in the listener while gaining the technical and theoretical knowledge necessary to work with emerging standards for 3D immersive sound, including high order ambisonics and binaural audio. Coursework involves computational approaches to sound design and composition, with instruction in Reaper, a highly flexible software application well suited to multichannel sound systems. Compositional exercises draw from a rich history of electroacoustic, spatial music. Students access RISD’s new Spatial Audio Studio, featuring an array of 25 independently addressable loudspeakers in a hemisphere configuration. This environment provides an ideal setting for learning, artistic production, critical listening and discussion. Students may bring audio files from earlier work for use as source material to jumpstart a new project.

Students exhibit their work at Open Studios held 4–6 pm on the final day of class.

Prior basic experience with digital audio software is recommended, such as Reaper, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Ableton Live or Cubase. Student laptop required with MacOS (10.13 or higher) or Windows 10 and Reaper installed (free, 60-day trial available at Students must provide their own headphones and external USB hard drive (1 TB recommended). Space is limited; register early. Questions about the course or prerequisites may be sent to the instructor at:

Course #3263
Shawn Greenlee

Schedule 1
June 22–July 2, 2020
9 am–4:30 pm

Tuition $2,975
Tuition for RISD Alumni and Students $2,380

3 Credits


Shawn Greenlee

Shawn Greenlee is a composer, sound artist and associate professor at Rhode Island School of Design. He has performed extensively across the US and Europe, appearing on several conferences, festivals and tours. These include New Interfaces for Musical Expression (2018 Blacksburg, 2015 Baton Rouge, 2014 London, 2013 Daejeon), International Computer Music Conference (2018 Daegu, 2011 Huddersfield, 2005 Barcelona), BEAST FEaST (2017 Birmingham), PdCon16 (2016 New York), Cube Fest (2019, 2016 Blacksburg), Re-new (2013 Copenhagen), IN TRANSIT (2008 Berlin), and Elevate (2007 Graz), among others. Greenlee’s solo and group discography spans over fifty releases to date. At RISD, Greenlee is the programs head for Experimental and Foundation Studies. He completed his PhD in computer music and new media at Brown University. In 2014, he was awarded the MacColl Johnson Fellowship for music composition by the Rhode Island Foundation.