The Utility of Space

Natasha Barrett

Programme Notes

The Utility of Space

Between the earth and sky
The space is like a bellows,
Empty but unspent,
When moved its gift is copious.
Tao Te Ching (translated by Raymond B Blakney, 1955)

The Utility of Space is an exploration of spatial musical structure. This exploration is manifest in two ways: through poetic spatial implication, and through carefully controlled real spatial locations, trajectories, and sound magnitudes.


The Utility of Space was realized in 2000 in the composer’s studio with spatialization research carried out at Notam (Norsk nettverk for Teknologi, Akustikk og Musikk / Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music) in Oslo (Norway). The ambisonics version premiered on October 7, 2000 at the Space Escape NICEM (Norwegian Section of the International Confederation for Electroacoustic Music) concert during the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (Norway). The Utility of Space was commissioned by NICEM with support from the Norsk Komponistforening (Norwegian Society of Composers). The Utility of Space was awarded a First Prize at the 28th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music and Sonic Art Competition (France, 2001). The original concert work was realized in the ambisonics format (hexagonal loudspeaker arrangement) combined with traditional stereo diffusion; this CD version has been remixed for stereo listening (either version is suitable for concert performance).


Stereophonic remix of the original concert work in ambisonics format.

  • Instrumentation: stereo tape
  • Composer(s): Natasha Barrett
  • Year composed: 2000
  • Premiere: October 7, 2000, Concert, Oslo (Norway)
  • Commission: NICEM with support from the Norsk Komponistforening
  • ISWC: T0006107330
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISRC: CAD500214820