The Experimental Acoustics Research Studio (EARS) is making waves at UC Riverside. EARS is a studio within UCR’s Department of Music that focuses on facilitating research and advances in music technology and multimedia. An interdisciplinary group made up of sound engineers, musicians, writers, video editors, cinematographers, and even game designers congregate at EARS to redefine each of these genres through sound design and music composition.
Located on Chicago Avenue in Riverside, EARS works on innovative projects year-round, testing the boundaries between music and other disciplines. The studio was started by UCR Music Professor Paulo Chagas in 2008.
“It’s important to have a studio because it’s necessary to have a place where people can share experiences, ideas, and collaborate,” Chagas said. “It creates a sort of synergy that helps creativity, where people are exposed to new ideas and are getting feedback on their own ideas.”
EARS doesn’t have a budget, according to Chagas, subsisting entirely on grants and fundraising. “It’s been a very big effort to create and support this,” he said.
“One of the things we’re going to do is design some sounds using synthesizers to emulate existing sounds,” said Christiaan Clark, one of EARS’ music graduate students.
Clark will be using these sounds to test listener reactions, according to Ethan Castro, the third-year music major who serves as the vice president for EARS’ undergraduate division.
“The idea is that, if you’re sitting and facing in one direction and you have two rows of speakers to the left and right of you, since there are eight speakers there, you could hear a sound come from behind you and we could send that sound through eight speakers so it sounds like it’s moving, like a gunshot or something whizzing by you,” Castro said.
EARS has also been known to help with different endeavors around campus. EARS Student Group, launched in 2018, works closely with Gamespawn, a game development club at UCR. EARS Student Group helps with sound design and music for Gamespawn’s projects, specifically at their twelve-hour game jams, where teams attempt to make game demos in a short amount of time.
“EARS is a really great organization to work with,” Yvette Chen said. Chen serves as Gamespawn’s Outreach Coordinator and a second-year psychology major. “They are all super enthusiastic about music and we all mutually benefited from working together. They're fun people to game jam with and our longer running projects are even more amazing because of them.”
EARS is a studio for research, collaboration, and learning, but it’s also a place that musicians call home. “People in EARS are quite friendly,” Ahn Quang said, a fourth-year psychology student. “They’re people with a lot of knowledge about music, and if you’re interested in learning more about music or even making your own music, you’re welcomed there.”