THE CENTRE FOR SOUND COMMUNITIES is a world-class digital arts and humanities research lab at Cape Breton University. It fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement on sound, movement, and performance toward the exchange of knowledge and the production of creative, critical research. The Centre for Sound Communities was jointly funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) in support of the Canada Research Chair in Communities and Cultures, Dr. Marcia Ostashewski.

The Centre for Sound Communities produces both tangible and intangible research outcomes. These include sound and movement performance pieces, and other creative works; digitized and born-digital artifacts such as audio/visual materials such as CDs, DVDs, and documentary films; as well as publications for both academic and public audiences. The research of Dr. Ostashewski and her research collaborators seeks to expand possibilities for research, both in terms of modalities and methodologies.

The Centre for Sound Communities hosts speakers, workshops, rehearsals, performances, recording and production sessions. The on-campus lab location, which includes specially-designed performance floors and equipment as well as work stations and meeting rooms, serve as a collaborative work space for researchers, artist-practitioners, project groups and committees. The state-of-the art technologies of the facility are also portable, allowing work to be carried out in-community, locally and globally.

Details of Centre for Sound Communities Technologies and Space

The Centre for Sound Communities is composed of 3 rooms: the Studio; the Media Lab; & the Meeting & Research Room. They function separately as a performance, post-production & meeting room; as well as together, as a creative rehearsal, performance, recording, documentation, analysis, production, research, meeting & presentation space. Together, they support the research & analysis of sound, movement, and performance, using audio/visual documentation to demonstrate relationships between them. This research facility is a multi-camera & immersive sound environment for creativity in performance, recording & analysis.

The Studio provides an informal space for sound/movement/performance & those who come to work there will have a sense that it is a space for creativity & performance rather than only a documentary recording space or concert hall. In addition, the A/V & other technologies that are part of the Studio are portable & adaptable to situations outside the university: the equipment is be used for research in community organization spaces, schools, community centres and public libraries, homes, the outdoors, concert halls and other spaces that constitute the field. They allow for high definition, high resolution audio & video solution for post-production back at the Media Lab, while continuing to use the Studio as a rehearsal & performance space in the absence of the A/V equipment. Creative projects are also being explored in terms of industry applications. For instance, the recording technologies allow the production of new kinds of sound/movement art that fits into broadcast or documentary film; livestream technologies allow for engagement with broad audiences; iPad apps support the instruction of dance and the dissemination of research through interactive educational resources.

The Studio is a sound-treated 35'x40' room with sprung dance floors suitable for dance. This large room facilitate the collaborative practice of music & dance toward research aims. It is equipped with a glassless mirrored wall (with curtains to cover the mirrors when videorecording); rehearsal barres; a multi-camera recording system; surround audio recording; playback capacity for audio & video; a short-throw projector and 8-foot high screen to enable digital presentations; & an upright piano for rehearsals & performance. In it, we record A/V materials at commercial production quality, online uploads & livestreaming, as well as archival storage.

The Media Lab is a small soundproofed room with a work station; audio/video recording & editing capacity; 3D digital scanner and printer; large flat-bed scanner; and a digital storage & backup system. With controlled acoustics, researchers are able to analyze music & sound for linguistic & musicological analysis, as well as edit the material for presentation purposes, educationalor commercial. The room features a computer system that runs the industry standard recording & editing software for both audio & video, making projects in any stage transferable to any recording studio in or outside of the university. The backup system allows for thousands of hours of recordings to be stored safely for further analysis, as well as integration into CBU's library network for digital archiving & remote retrieval. The Lab’s Storage Room houses specialty equipment, & spare equipment parts. This includes a complete lighting kit; and a portable 20-iPad system.

The midsize Meeting & Research Room has 4 workstations & desktop Mac computers, scanners and printers; an adjacent meeting area; and kitchenette. Equipment in the meeting area (including projector and screen) facilitates presentations & video-conferencing. Storage cabinets house project files and material culture items. Workstations support researchers & research assistants. Resources, such as books & digital materials (including the Ostashewski Special Collection, accessible through NovaNet), & material produced in the Centre for Sound Communities, are stored on shelves. Modular desks can be grouped to facilitate research meetings, roundtable discussions, or workshops. A Digital Media Kiosk displays the Centre for Sound Communities website, featuring ongoing project work.

The Centre for Sound Communities complements & works synergistically with the Centre for Cape Breton Studies (CCBS). Projects that require further audio editing, mixing & mastering, are seamlessly integrated into that post-production facility. This becomes especially useful for creating music albums, broadcast documentary work or dance & other performance based capture.