Call for Proposals

The KISS 2020 organizers — in collaboration with the University of Illinois School of Music and Symbolic Sound — invite you to submit proposal(s) for a talk, a live performance, a hands-on workshop, or one of the special projects (outlined below) on the theme: Sound of Science  or the sub-theme Origin Stories.

Sound of Science (and the science of sound)

What does it mean to design an experiment, to evaluate alternative hypotheses, to build generative models, to test and to revise the hypothesis based on the outcome? Is this a methodology employed by artists as well as by scientists? Do we share any common approaches or ways of thinking? What are the essential distinctions between art and science? Have you ever collaborated with a scientist or been inspired by scientific research in your own artistic practice? How are scientists inspired by art and artists? Have you ever used data generated by a scientific model or experiment as the structural basis for a new kind of music?

Or flip the word order and use “the science of sound” as your thematic inspiration — anything from acoustics, to source-separation, to physical models, to hearing science, to noise-conscious urban planning, to digital signal processing and synthesis algorithms.

Are “music” and “sound” phenomena that can be studied by a scientist? What can the practice of music reveal about human cognition and consciousness? Nearly every living creature generates sound; what can the sounds produced by other living beings teach us about human language and cognition?

Origin Stories

University of Illinois, the site of KISS 2020, is the setting for several origin stories — it’s the birthplace of the HAL 9000, of sound-on-film, of computer music, voltage-controlled synthesizers, the first web browser, of Wolfram’s Mathematica, the Continuum Fingerboard… and Kyma! — to name a few.

Everyone from superheroes, to families, to bands, to companies, to nation-states, and cultural/ethnic groups have origin stories and creation myths. What’s yours? Whether your back-story arises from the stories of your parents and grandparents, or the story of your own professional journey, there tend to be archetypes and underlying similarities among creation stories — including perseverance in the face of adversity and the inspiring support of loyal friends.

Create a new live narrative performance that you will recount around the virtual campfire at KISS 2020, inspired by ideas on the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of Spiderman, the emergence of order from chaos, or your favorite cosmogony.

Better yet, write the origin story for something that has yet to be created — historical documentaries from the future!

There are several ways to participate; we encourage you to follow your interests and, if you like, submit more than one proposal in more than one of the categories.

A Lecture, Talk or Elevator Pitch on the themes

Propose a presentation on the themes: Sound of Science, Origin Stories or both! Select your preferred format:

30′ or 60′ Lectures on the theme, the sub-theme or both, intended for a general audience. Think TED talks or keynote lectures intended to inspire and make connections between the topics of the symposium.

30′ Talks answer the question: What have you been doing with Kyma this year? Share some of your results with the audience who can appreciate and understand it better than any other — your fellow Kyma practitioners.

15′ Elevator Pitches. Have you just finished a Kyma project or are you working on a Kyma project that’s still in progress? Give us the condensed summary in 15′ or less. It’s an opportunity to put some ideas out there to ask for feedback, suggestions and encouragement from your fellow, intrepid sound explorers.

Click here to propose a Lecture, Talk or Elevator Pitch

Live Kyma performance inspired by the theme or sub-theme

Each year, Kyma practitioners continue to raise the bar on creativity and technical achievement. KISS performances expand the notion of what it means to make music with technology in the 21st century. They are meaningful, disruptive, innovative, moving, often beautiful and always experimental. A KISS concert is more than just a one-off performance; it includes after-concert lecture/discussions to share ideas and techniques with an audience who can appreciate your clever, creative solutions to technical challenges.

Additional Resources
    • The University of Illinois School of Music is home to the Illinois Modern Ensemble, a group of talented, professional-level student performers. If you have an idea for a new composition for acoustic instruments with Kyma, please contact us prior to submitting your proposal to find out whether there is an aspiring professional eager to perform in the world premiere.
    • If you would like to propose a live performance utilizing the MacFarland Carillon, please contact us for more details on the available pitches, maximum re-strike rates, etc.
    • We will be posting links to datasets and audio samples particular to central Illinois and Champaign County that you can utilize in your live performance.

Click here to propose a Live Kyma Performance

The Scientist/Composer Collaboration Project

Would you like to collaborate with a scientist this summer, each learning about what the other does, together creating a new work mutually inspired by each other’s research, knowledge and creativity?

There is an art to science, and science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.

Isaac Asimov

We are issuing a call for composer/performers and scientific researchers interested in working together on a new performance piece for KISS 2020. We will ask a few questions about your interests, your working methods, and your inspirations and our expert “matchmakers” will introduce you to your potential collaboration partner. After the introduction, you can use Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts, phone call or email to collaborate with each other on a new work. We suggest that you plan to arrive a day early for KISS, if possible, so you can finalize your collaboration and rehearse together before presenting a lecture/performance on one of the KISS 2020 concerts.

Click here to fill out a profile and help us find your collaboration partner

Inspiration plays no less a role in science than it does in the realm of art. Both are frenzy (in the sense of Plato’s “mania” and “inspiration”).

—Max Weber

live sound track for a scientific data visualization

Would you like to compose and perform a live sound track for a scientific data visualization video (possibly even based on the same datasets that generated the images)? Choose one of two categories: an explanatory scientific data sonification (for outreach and understanding), or a live performance (an artistic work inspired by the science). In the submission form, you’ll answer a few questions about your interests so we can connect you with a researcher who can share the video and data. The live pieces will be performed on a KISS 2020 Lecture/Performance concert. Fixed sound tracks will be presented on an Attentive Listening with Discussion session.

Click here to propose a scientific data visualization collaboration

Hands-on Workshop for Kyma practitioners

Propose a hands-on activity that inspires symposiasts to set up their Kyma systems in the CAMIL (Computer Assisted Music Instruction Laboratory) and start making sound. Whether it’s a group project, a sound-themed game show, a brain-storming session on how to solve a particular sound design challenge, a data sonification challenge, or some other brain-stimulating, collaborative group programming and sound design activity, the goal is to learn from each other, have fun, and establish some life-long friendships in the process.

Click here to propose a Hands-on Workshop

Outdoor Carillon Concert

Is it the Dark Tower glowing with the Eye of Sauron? No, it’s something even more intriguing for sound afficiandoes — the 185-foot tall McFarland Carillon featuring 49, live MIDI-controlled bells. Imagine the kind of eco-systemic environment you could create using Kyma to transform live audio feedback into MIDI outputs to control the bells for the live outdoor concert-on-the-quad.

Click here to propose a Carillon performance

Club Night

Make us dance! We’re partnering with a downtown Champaign venue that has a dance floor for the final, open-to-the-public Club Night performances featuring food, a cash bar (and did we mention the dance floor?) Propose your live, movement-inspiring Kyma performance for electronics and controllers with or without acoustic instruments designed to get Champaign-Urbana up out of their seats and dancing together.

Click here to propose a Club Night performance

All things are aggregations of atoms that dance and by their movement produce sound.

—Alexandra David-Neel


Please join us in Champaign-Urbana as we explore the multifaceted concept of Sound of Science and Origin Stories through talks, workshops, and live musical performances at KISS 2020.

Propose a talk or hands-on workshop

Propose a live performance and talk

Important Dates

15 March: Deadline for submissions
30 March: Notification of acceptance & start of early registration
13 August: First day of KISS 2020
16 August: Last day of KISS 2020
17 August: Special after-KISS Tour of sound-related research labs

What happens next?

We recommend you send in your proposals as soon as you think of them, before life gets too busy (and definitely before the 15 March deadline).

A selection committee will review all proposals in terms of practicality and relevance to the theme. We may contact you with questions. We look forward to reading your proposals!


If you have a question about KISS 2020, please use this email address. Thank you!  We look forward to hearing from you!

The Alma Mater & her two assistants — Learning and Labor — Welcome You