Spencer Topel

Assistant Professor of Music

Spencer Topel is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore relationships between architecture, space, and form. He is a recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Danish International Visiting Artist Residency in 2013 (DIVA), the Palmer Dixon Prize from the Juilliard School for best composition, BMI and ASCAP Awards, and was an artist-in-residence with the Meitar Ensemble in July 2014 (Tel Aviv).

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Recent premieres and shows include Echoic Memory I, II (The drawing Center NY; Estonian Music Days 2016, Tallinn), Vox Nihili (HAU, Finkenau, American Modern Ensemble), String Quartet (FLUX Quartet), Palavers (String Noise), Listening Glass (P.3+ Bamboula NOLA), Capturing Resonance in collaboration with Soo Sunny Park (DeCordova Museum), Callings (TonBurst Ensemble,Chosen Vale Festival, FIGURA Ensemble), and Details on the Strasbourg Rosace (Third Sound, Meitar Ensemble). 

As an artist of both sound works and musical composition, he has produced works for many of America's premiere music and art institutions, including the Drawing Center NY, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Juilliard Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, TILT Brass, FLUX Quartet, and the Callithumpian Consort. Notable national/international collaborations include HUB New Music (Boston), FIGURA Ensemble (Copenhagen) the Contemporarte Ensemble (Venice) and the Meitar Ensemble and the Israeli Conservatory (Tel-Aviv).  

As a researcher, Topel is primarly interested in the development of sound synthesis techniques in acoustic systems, with particular attention to accurate damping of resonances. This has led to the development of new acoustically augmented modular acoustic synthesizers and instrument modifications. 

Topel received degrees from Cornell and The Juilliard School before joining the Tenure-Track Faculty at Dartmouth College, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Music. 

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Hallgarten Hall, Music
HB 6187
Department(s): 
Music
Education: 
D.M.A. Cornell University
M.M. The Juilliard School
B.M. The Juilliard School

Selected Publications

Chang H.C., Topel S. “Electromagnetically Actuated Amplitude Modulation Synthesis.” Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). Griffith Univ., Brisbane Australia, 2016.

Rector. D, Topel S.  "EMdrum: An Electromagnetically Actuated Drum." Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). London, UK, 2014.

S. S. Topel, M.A Casey. "Elementary Sources: Latent Component Analysis for Music Composition"In Proc. Of ISMIR, Miami, United States, 2011.

Grani, F., Serafin, S., de Gotzen, A., Overholt, D., & Topel, S. (2013, July). Investigating the relationship between pressure force and acoustic waveform in footstep sounds. In Digital Signal Processing (DSP), 2013 18th International Conference on (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

“Extensible Spectralism: Revealing Latent Structures in Music Audio for Composition, Analysis, and Retrieval”. D.M.A. Dissertation, Cornell University, 2012.

M.A. Casey, S. Topel. “Timbre-Based Percussive Rhythm Classification and Retrieval”. In Proc. Of ISMIR, Utrecht, Netherlands, 2010.

Selected works and activities

Vox Nihili 2016
[Sound Installation]
hybrid electronic-acoustic instruments
SMC 2016, HAW Finkenau
Hamburg, Germany, August, 2016.

Echoic Memory II 2016
[Sound & Sculpture Installation]
monochords, wood, steel piano strings, metal pins, magnetic resonators, amplifiers, wire, microphones, computer.
Academy of Music and Theatre, Tallinn, Estonia, April, 2016.

Echoic Memory 2015
[Sound & Sculpture Installation]
monochords, wood, steel piano strings, metal pins, magnetic resonators, amplifiers, wire, microphones, computer.
The Drawing Center, New York, NY, September, 2015.

String Quartet 2015   22 minutes
[String Quartet and Live Electronics]
Premiere scheduled with the FLUX Quartet
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, February 2015.

Details on the Strasbourg Rosace  2012 Rev. 2015
[Chamber Ensemble with Electronics]
flute, clarinet Bb, violin, cello, piano, and electronics.
Third Sound, AMF Delegation to Cuba, 2015.