The Kyma International Sound Symposium KISS 2020: the Sound of Science is an intensive 4-day symposium highlighting the sounds of science through lectures, live cultural performances, scientist/composer collaborations, data sonification, attentive listening sessions, hands-on data-mapping workshops, and more. Whether you are a sound expert, a sound-obsessed aficionado, or simply curious about the potential power of sound, we invite you to join us for KISS 2020 — the Sound of Science (Origin Stories) — held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 13-16 August 2020.

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having it’s own function and character, contributes to the whole.


Sound permeates our lives 24/7, from ubiquitous personal sound tracks conveyed through earbuds, to the disturbing maskers of HVAC systems, traffic, and other stress-inducing noises of urban life. Immersed as we are in this unrelenting sea of sound, it can be easy to take sound for granted or to let it fade into the background.

The year 2020 has been designated the International Year of Sound, and at KISS 2020 we will be giving sound our undivided attention as we celebrate the power of sound in culture, in communication, in education and in science. Sound is a powerful channel for communicating meaning — whether it is the first protophones uttered by an infant, the sonification of data from a high-energy physics experiment, or the supra-linguistically powerful experience of a live musical performance. When we listen attentively, we discover that sound is a complex, rich and meaning-laden signal. Yet sound is currently underutilized, shoved into the background, and masked by noise from the mechanisms of everyday life that were designed without heed to potential stress-inducing acoustic side-effects.

A numinous location

I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H-A-L plant in Urbana Illinois on the 12th of January 1992.HAL, the Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

The University of Illinois, location for KISS 2020, is the setting for several origin stories, hence the sub-theme “Origin Stories” — it’s the birthplace of the HAL 9000, of sound-on-film, of computer music, voltage-controlled synthesizers, the SalMar Construction, early developments in cybernetics and neural networks, the plasma screen, computer-based education, the Continuum Fingerboard, the LED, Kyma, and more! University of Illinois researchers continue along that trajectory of exploration and discovery in Speech and Hearing Science, Acoustics, Digital Signal Processing, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Music.

The Experimental Music Studios (EMS) were established at the University of Illinois in 1956 by Lejaren Hiller — a chemist who was inspired by John Cage’s “Music for Magnetic Tape” to change his life’s direction, get a music degree and write a paradigm-shattering book, Experimental Music, that would forever change the way people think about music, experiment, and science.


Please join us for 4 days and nights devoted to the Sound of Science and Origin Stories, explored through lectures, live cultural performances, science/composer collaborations, scientific visualizations with data sonification, listening sessions, hands-on sound creation activities, lively discussions and interaction.

Learn, share, connect, discuss, and enjoy!

Registration includes access to paper sessions and live performances, hands-on workshops, an opening reception, 3 lunches, 4 dinners, coffee breaks, Club Night, and an after-KISS day-long tour of the sound-related research labs on the University of Illinois campus.

…the pursuit of origins is a way of rescuing territory from death and oblivion, a reconquest that ought to be patient, devoted, relentless and faithful.

—Amin Maalouf


KISS, the annual Kyma International Sound Symposium, is talks, workshops, demos, and live performances presented by Kyma practitioners, all connected by a unifying theme. You are invited to learn, to share, to meet, and to enjoy!

Previous Symposia