Researcher Creates State-of-the-Art Music Studio at Acadia University

This fall, students of Acadia’s School of Music should expect to get an earful – of sound that is.  

Dr. Derek Charke, Professor of Composition and Theory in the School of Music at Acadia University is the creator and director of the new Acadia Electroacoustic Music Studio (AEMS). With his summer break nearing its end, the award-winning composer and flutist is getting ready to welcome students into the studio for the first time. 

“We haven’t had a studio like this in Nova Scotia,” says Charke. “I’ve been here since 2005 and I’ve never had the ability to demonstrate what I do effectively to the students or to have the students participate and create works using electroacoustics on their own.”  

The AEMS is the first fully functioning multi-channel spatialized studio of its kind in Nova Scotia. In 2017, Charke received a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund and matching provincial funds from Research Nova Scotia (RNS) to help build the state-of-the-art studio. 

Dr. Steven Naylor, Adjunct Professor in the School of Music at Acadia University, who was consulted by Charke to help select equipment for the studio, describes the AEMS as an incredible resource for the region. “It’s really a unique facility in this part of Canada,” explains Naylor. “I’m not aware of any studio east of Montreal that has the capacity for 16 high quality loudspeakers in two rings of eight.” 

Charke designed the studio to support three main areas of innovative music research. The loudspeakers will be used to explore of the motion of sound through space, known as spatialized research. The studio will also support the creation of original soundtracks using both acoustic and electronic sounds, referred to as acousmatic research. Finally, the AEMS will facilitate electroacoustic research, a process where the sound of live music from an individual performer, band or orchestra is paired with equipment and digitally transformed.

Charke believes the studio has the potential to benefit the music industry across the province. “We have world class musicians in Nova Scotia already,” he affirms. “But to have a focal point, to have one place where all researchers and independent composers can come and fully develop, test or work on their pieces is really important.”  

According to Charke, a studio of this caliber will attract talent and position the province to pursue collaborations and opportunities for growth with researchers across Canada.   

“When people have been working and learning about this music and this kind of work in other areas of Canada, Nova Scotia has not been on their radar, I think, simply because there hasn’t been a place for dissemination, for creation, for research,” he explains. “Now we do have this studio, now you can come here and do your work in what is a beautiful part of the country.” 

Construction on the AEMS wrapped up in July. In recognition of the studio’s completion, Charke and Naylor are both featured in Research Nova Scotia’s latest segment of #ResearchersMatter, a campaign showcasing RNS funded researchers. 

To learn more about the AEMS visit: