"The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds"
My research focuses on music production and audio technologies, but also on any multi-disciplinary aspects of art-meets-technology. I'm Professor of Creative Industries and Commercial Music at the University of Westminster, London, which allows me to collaborate with many musicians, engineers, programmers, artists, filmmakers, game designers, app developers, scientists, therapists and literary experts.
I'm regularly publishing my work in books and journals and presenting at international conferences and industry events. I'm supervisor to a number of PhD students and I'm regularly examining UK research students and music technology courses. I'm on the committee of the British Audio Engineering Society Section and a co-chair of the Innovation In Music Conference, I also work closely with the UK Music Producer's Guild.
Interactive Digital Music
I've been collaborating with the London College of Music (University of West London) on an innovative project exploring interactive digital music apps. The research is funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) via its 'Digital Transformations' theme.
The project investigates the app as a potential album-release format of the future in an initiative to lure the consumer away from the ‘single track download’ mentality. Whilst a number of music app releases have exploited playfulness and a degree of interactivity for the user, past releases were not chart-eligible and the music itself is yet to be wholly at the core of this potential format.
In addition to incorporating extended media content and social networking, most importantly, a system for interactive playback is included, either machine-controlled or user-influenced. This allows a dynamic listening experience that might cross genres within a given track or offer the impression of a unique live performance, with the aim of forging new user experiences and opening a number of artistic and commercial opportunities for the future.
Download the completed app for free here..
And read my publication on a previous abum app development project here...
High Definition Music
The future of music lies firmly in high-definition recording, production, distribution and playback systems - I truly believe the music and audio industries are on the cusp of new technologies that will revolutionise the way we make and consume music. Exciting times are ahead.
I'm currently building collaborative working groups and developing research projects on the topics of HD music, specifically looking at the chain of operations from the day the artist sets foot in the studio to the time their song is heard by a listener. There are so many technologies involved in the process, from recording and mixing systems, broadcast and streaming technologies, audio formats, codecs and playback hardware, as well as new user interfaces to bring deep and intimate connections between the artist and their fan base.
I'm starting to make music productions at 192kHz to generate source material for listening tests and looking to evaluate the true power of HD audio. This is a very common approach in the film industry for moving picture and it's only a matter of time before the music industry follows suite and takes advantage of the high quality approaches that are evermore becoming realistic commercial propositions.
In my freelance music production activities I always involve innovative and reflective approaches to sound capture, audio mixing, sound analysis, artist relations and creative aspects of music production.
In particular I have published and evaluated considerably with respect to dynamic range and loudness wars in commercial music (see example here). Additionally I have worked with the UK Music Producers Guild to consolidate new approaches for embedding ISRC metadata in digital audio files (paper here).
I've also written on mixing and mastering techniques and been featured in Sound on Sound magazine a number of times (for example here). I've also recently started writing a number of music production chapters for a series of academic textbooks, including the Bloomsbury Handbook for the Singer-Songwriter (to be published in 2016).
Music Production and Audio Analysis
For many years I've been researching percussion acoustics, particularly with the aim of assisting drum tuning through the use of microphones and software. In 2012 I developed and launched the iDrumTune iPhone app, which does exactly this. It's like a guitar tuner, but for drums and has received excellent reviews from the drummer and pro-audio communities - check it out at www.idrumtune.com.
I also have relevant academic papers published by:
- The Acoustical Society of America: access here
- The Art of Record Production (1): access here
- The Art of Record Production (2): access here
Internet of Things and Embedded Systems Design
Before moving fully into music production I worked predominantly in the electronics industry. My book 'Fast and Effective Embedded Systems Design: applying the ARM mbed' was first published by Elsevier in 2012, with a Chinese translation also published in 2014. My work in electronics has allowed me to bring a valuable technical insight to artists and musicians who want to develop bespoke technical artefacts and installations. Most notably is my work with the internationally renowned artist Eduardo Kac and the Lagoglyph Sound System, which is a painting utilising conductive ink, to trigger vocalisations as a viewer caresses the canvas.
I am now developing Internet of Things (IoT) related research projects, continuing my collaborations with ARM and specifically looking at at IoT research projects within the audio industry.
I also have significant experience as a control systems engineer in the automotive industry, and my 2008 paper on hybrid vehicles, published by the IEEE, is regularly cited by other academics (paper available here).
Alongside my research projects, I am involved in a number of knowledge exchange and business support projects, specifically helping small businesses to take on new engineering capabilities and to offer consultancy support in areas of digital signal processing and embedded systems design.
I have assisted companies by developing Matlab systems for, for example, testing audio analysis and classification algorithms, acoustic modelling, audio fingerprinting algorithms and electric network frequency (ENF) analysis for forensic audio purposes.
Additionally I have helped companies in new product development and quality management in electronic engineering, specifically helping Calex Ltd to develop new touch screen user interfaces for their industrial temperature sensors, and helping STV International Ltd to develop ultrasonic pest control devices, from concept development to commercialisation.
I was recently given Anglia Ruskin University's Knowledge Exchange and Innovation award for 2015, recognising the collaborative work I have conducted with local commercial organisations.
Knowledge Exchange and Business Support
Books, Patents and Publications
I am author/editor of the following books:
Innovation in Music III, published by Routledge
Innovation in Music II, published by Future Technology Press
Innovation in Music, published by Future Technology Press
I have worked on a number of patent applications, in particular the Percussion Instrument Tuner which can be accessed here:
My full publications list is below:
Toulson, E.R. 2020 - Consumer Music Formats: Past, Present and Future, In: Bloomsbury Companion on Music Production, Bloomsbury Press. (accepted for publication in 2020).
Toulson, E. R, Paterson, J. & Hepworth-Sawyer, R. 2019 - User-Influenced/Machine-Controlled Playback: The variPlay Music App Format for Interactive Recorded Music, Arts, Volume 8, Issue 3. online here.
Toulson, E. R. 2019 - Analog reconstruction of transient digital audio workstation signals at high resolution sample frequencies, accepted for publication as a book chapter in Innovation In Music: Performance, Production, Technology and Business, Routledge, New York. Amazon link here.
Sheppard, M., Toulson, E. R & Fachner, J. 2019 - Acoustic transmission of metadata in audio files using Sonic Quick Response Codes (SQRC), accepted for publication as a book chapter in Innovation In Music: Performance, Production, Technology and Business, Routledge, New York. Amazon link here.
Toulson, E. R & Hepworth-Sawyer, R. 2018 – Connected Learning Journeys in Music Production Education, Journal of Music, Technology and Education, Intellect, Volume 11, Number 3, pp. 269-286(18). online here.
Toulson, E. R. and Paterson, J.P. 2018 - Interactive Music: Past, Present and Future, proceedings of The Audio Engineering Society Conference, New York, October 2018. online here
Toulson, E. R. 2017 - The Resonant Tuning Factor: a new measure for quantifying the setup and tuning of cylindrical drums, proceedings of The Audio Engineering Society Conference, New York, October 2017. online here
Toulson, E. R. & Burgess, R. J. 2017- Singer-Songwriter meets Music Production and Studio Technology, in: The Bloomsbury Handbook for the Singer Songwriter, Bloomsbury Press, ISBN 9781628920291.
Toulson, E. R. 2017 - The Dreaded Mix Sign-Off: handing over to mastering, in: Perspectives on Music Production: Mixing Music, Routledge, ISBN 9781138218734
Toulson, E. R. 2016 - Interview with Mix Engineer David Wrench, in: Innovation In Music II, Future Technology Press, October 2016, ISBN 9781911108047.
Toulson, E. R. & Paterson, J. 2016 - Interactive Digital Music: enhancing listener engagement with commercial music, in: Innovation In Music II, Future Technology Press, October 2016, ISBN 9781911108047.
De Groen, P. C., Lopez, M., Patel, S., Szewczynski, M. & Toulson, E. R. 2016 - Combining Science with Art to Educate and Motivate Patients prior to Colorectal Cancer Screening, in: Smart Education and e-Learning 2016, Springer, June 2016, ISBN 9783319396897.
Toulson, E. R & Shakhovskoy, J. 2015 - Future Music Formats: evaluating the ‘album app’, The Journal on The Art of Record Production, Issue 10, ISSN: 1754-9892. online here
Toulson, E. R., Campbell, W. & Paterson, J. 2014 - Evaluating harmonic and intermodulation distortion of mixed signals processed with dynamic range compression, in: Innovation In Music 2013, Future Technology Press, Dec 2014, ISBN 9780956151681. online here
Toulson, E. R., Grint, B. & Staff, R. 2014 - Embedding ISRC Identifiers in Broadcast Wave Audio Files, in: Innovation In Music 2013, Dec 2014, ISBN 9780956151681. online here
Campbell, W., Toulson, E. R. & Paterson, J. A 2014 - Quantitative Evaluation of Signal Masking in Summed and Compressed Audio, in: Innovation In Music, Dec 2013, ISBN 9780956151681. online here
Hepworth-Sawyer, R., Hodgson, J., Paterson, J. and Toulson, E. R. (editors) 2014 - Innovation In Music 2013, Future Technology Press, Dec 2014, ISBN 9780956151681. online here
Toulson, E. R. & Cirstea, S. 2014 - Holistic Acoustic Absorber Design: from modelling and simulation to laboratory testing and practical realization. Proceedings of The Audio Engineering Society Conference 2014, Los Angeles, Oct 2014. online here
Patel, S. & Toulson, E. R 2014 - Educating and Enhancing Compassion, Emotion and Reflective Professional Practice through Contemporary Digital Filmmaking, SMART Digital Futures, IOS Press, ISBN: 978614994046 Jun 2014. online here
Sanaei, A., Toulson, E. R. & Cole, M. 2014 - Tuning and optimisation of an Electric Network Frequency extraction algorithm, The Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, Jan 2014, ISSN: 15494950. online here
Toulson, E.R. 2013 - Music Technology and Sound Engineering at Anglia Ruskin University: Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer, Audio Engineering Society British Section seminar (held at Dolby Labs HQ), Nov 2013. online here
Toulson, E.R. 2013 – Mastering a Multi-Genre Compilation Album in the Era of the Loudness War. Proceedings of The Art of Record Production Conference, Quebec City, Canada, July 2013, download slides
Toulson, E. R. & Wilmshurst, T. 2012 - Fast and Effective Embedded Systems Design: Applying the ARM mbed (academic textbook), Elsevier Publishing, Oxford, Aug 2012, ISBN: 9780080977683. online here
Aaron, S., Cross, I., Gill, S., Himberg, T., Hoadley, R., Odell-Miller, H. & Toulson, E.R. 2012 - Touching Sound: technologies for mediated interaction in music therapy, 7th Nordic Music Therapy Congress, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, June 13-17. download slides
Sanaei, A., Toulson, E. R. & Cole, M. 2012 - Tuning and optimization of an Electric Network Frequency extraction algorithm, The Audio Engineering Society’s 46th International Conference on Audio Forensics: Recording, Recovery, Analysis, and Interpretation, June 2012.
Gadde, Y., Cirstea, M., Toulson, R. & Allingham, E. 2012 - An optimised development model for high volume electronic products, Proceedings of Optimization of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (OPTIM), 2012 13th International Conference, Romania, May 2012, pages 1325 – 1330. online here
Richardson, P. G. M., Toulson, E. R. & Nunn, D. J. E. 2012 – Analysis and manipulation of the modal ratios of cylindrical drums, The Journal of The Acoustical Society of America, vol. 131, issue 1, p. 907. online here
Toulson, E.R. 2011 – Exploring Digital Culture: case studies and opportunities. Audio Engineering Society Lecture, Cambridge, November 2011. download slides
Toulson, E. R. 2011 – Media and music technology education, The Journal on The Art of Record Production, Issue 6, July 2011. online here
Richardson, P. G. M. & Toulson, E. R. 2011 – Drum tuning education, The Journal on The Art of Record Production, Issue 6, July 2011. online here
Toulson, E.R. 2011 – Creation of Media-Based Learning Material for Audio and Music Technology, Networks, Issue 14, January 2011. download paper
Richardson, P. G. M. & Toulson, E. R. 2009 – Clearing the Drumhead, Proceedings of the Reproduced Sound Conference, Cardiff, Wales, November 2009. download paper
Toulson, E. R. 2010 - Audio Signal Processing and Rapid Prototyping with the ARM mbed, Presented at The Audio Engineering Society Cambridge UK Seminar, October 2010. download slides
Campbell, W., Toulson, E. R. & Paterson, J. 2010 - The effect of dynamic range compression on the psychoacoustic quality and loudness of commercial music, Proceedings of Internoise 2010 Conference, Lisbon, June 2010. download paper download slides
Toulson, E. R. 2010 - Mixing can be simple, you just have to think one step ahead... Sound On Sound, March 2010, p202. online here
Toulson, E. R. & Campbell, W. 2009 - The life and death of dynamic range: who decides how loud? Proceedings of The Art of Record Production Conference, Cardiff, Wales, November 2009. download slides
Toulson, E. R. 2009 - Percussion Analysis and Quantitative Drum Tuning, tutorial presentation at The 127th Audio Engineering Society Convention, New York, October 2009. download slides
Toulson, E. R., Cuny-Cringy, C., Robinson, P. & Richardson, P. G. M. 2008 - The perception and importance of drum tuning in live performance and music production, Proceedings of The Art of Record Production Conference, Lowell, Massachusetts, November 2008. download paper
Toulson, E. R. 2008 - Can We Fix It? The consequences of ‘fixing it in the mix’ with common equalisation techniques are scientifically evaluated, The Journal on the Art of Record Production, Issue 3, November 2008. download paper
Toulson, E. R. 2008 - Instrument Tuning Device, International (PCT) Patent application number PCT/GB2009/002017. online here
Toulson, E. R. 2008 - Managing Widening Participation in Music and Music Production, Proceedings of the Audio Engineering Society UK Conference, Cambridge, April 2008. download paper download slideshow
Toulson, E. R. 2008 - Evaluation of a Hybrid Hydraulic Launch Assist System for use in Small Road Vehicles, Proc. of IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics, ISIE 2008, Cambridge, UK, June 2008. download paper download slideshow
Toulson, E. R. 2008 - Advanced Rapid Prototyping in Small Research Projects with Mathlab/Simulink (tutorial presentation), Proc. of IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics, ISIE 2008, Cambridge, UK, June 2008. download slideshow
Toulson, E. R. 2007 - Instrument Tuning Device, British Patent application number GB0713649.2. online here
Toulson, E. R. 2006 - A Need for Universal Definitions of Audio Terminologies and Improved Knowledge Transfer to the Audio Consumer, Proceedings of The Art of Record Production Conference, Edinburgh, September 2006. download paper download slideshow