Spiddal profits from sound investment


When Britain's National Centre for Popular Music opened recently in Sheffield, it did so with a little help from its friends in Spiddal, Co Galway.

The software for the NCPM's "soundscape" three-dimensional music room was developed by Dr Charlie Lennon's young technology company, Cuan Audio Visual, in the Connemara village.

As a result of the deal, Cuan Audio Visual has signed a partnership agreement, whereby it will supply audio software services to the NCPM for the next five years. The £15 million British centre is expected to attract half a million visitors annually, and will present the latest in "surround sound" technology. Cuan's software package for three-dimensional mixing was written in association with Lake Electronics of Sydney, Australia.

The software allows a music-mixer to trace the source of the sound on screen. It is one of many packages offered by the new studio-cum-audio-visual technology base, which opens its own doras today with a visit from the Minister of State for Arts, Mr Eamon O Cuiv.

The initiative is yet another string to the bow of Dr Lennon, Leitrim's best-known nuclear physicist and traditional musician. He is one of three entrepreneurs in Cuan AV. His partners are his daughter, Eilis Lennon, an economist and musician, and Dr Culann Mac Caba, a Trinity College Dublin lecturer and acoustician.

Cuan Audio Visual employs six full-time and up to four part-time staff. It is hoped to increase this to 20. The type of work will allow skilled people to remain in the Gaeltacht, rather than seek similar employment "in Dublin or LA", Dr Lennon says.

Designed by Galway architectural and London studio consultants, it combines recording facilities with the design and production of audio software products, sound effects and "plug-ins".

Its live room is capable of accommodating a 60-piece orchestra, and the control room can handle stereo, digital video disc and three-dimensional sound production. A second studio doubles as a mastering suite and a green room for performers to absorb the panorama of Galway Bay and the Burren beyond. There are also meeting rooms, offices and a software development laboratory.

Digital video disc, an emerging CD format, means musicians can record high-quality soundtracks, in contrast to the narrowly defined field offered by stereo. The integrated digital recording facility will, of course, complement existing media companies in Connemara.

Only last year a new 24-track digital recording studio was opened five miles west, at Cor na Ron. Stiuideo Chois Fharraige was set up to serve bands, individual musicians and composers, including film and video-makers seeking the latest in recording technology.

Owned by two Dubliners, Gearoid O Murchu and Colm Mac Sealaigh, it secured some of its earliest business with a local record label, Clo Iar-Chonnachta. John Faulkner, well-known Galway musician, also used the studio to record the music score for the latest Concorde film, A Very Unlucky Leprechaun.

Mr O Cuiv will acknowledge all this activity O Cuiv and may even have some news on a Government initiative. It is expected that a music board may soon be established.