Dr Christopher Haworth in action performing.
Dr Christopher Haworth in action performing.

The paper is a collaboration with Esteban Gutiérrez and Rodrigo Cadiz. It was initiated several years ago, in 2011, when Haworth, Cadiz, and Gary Kendall presented Sound Synthesis with Auditory Distortion Products at the 2012 International Computer Music Conference, later published in the Computer Music Journal (2014).

The project concerns the use of auditory distortion products in musical sound synthesis. Sometimes called difference or combination tones, auditory distortion products are ‘phantom’ tones that occur in the ear and brain, and are only audible to the hearer. They are a product of normal hearing and are usually heard when in the presence of loud sound, like whistles or sirens. The methods Haworth and his collaborators have worked on render them as musical sounds that can be very precisely controlled, and generated with comfortable volumes. The result is a strange, intimate auditory experience produced via loudspeakers, yet akin to listening on headphones.

I’m delighted to receive this award from the International Computer Music Association. Sound synthesis with auditory distortion products has been an ongoing strand of my work since before my PhD, and it is wonderful to receive recognition for it.

Dr Christopher Haworth - Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Birmingham.

Haworth has used these sounds in his music since for over 13 years. His 2011 piece Correlation Number One won a Shut Up and Listen! Prize for its use of auditory distortion to create ghostly tones. Earlier in 2023, his short album Auditory Distortion Synthesis was released by the influential Italian computer music label, Superpang. On December 02 2023, Haworth is a guest composer for the University of Sheffield’s Sound Junction concert series.

The award winning paper presents new methods for matching the phantom sound of the auditory distortion products to a target timbre, making possible the creation of illusory brass instruments, clarinets, and other harmonic sounds.

Listen to the Superpang release