Sam Erpelding - Composition

Ecoacoustic Research and its Representation through Intermedia Sound Art: Sonic Health of Protected Ecosystems and Anthropogenic Impacts on their Ecological Communities

The focus of this artistic-scholarly dissertation is ecoacoustics and ecological sound art and it investigates the relationship between soundscape complexity and biodiversity regarding urgent ecological issues.

The objective is to measure and compare the presence of anthrophonies, biophonies, and independently measured biodiversity in two Austrian national parks (Donau-Auen, Kalkalpen) with adjacent human-altered landscapes. Various ecoacoustic measurements are conducted to record the characteristic soundscapes, biodiversity, and human impacts in both national parks. In order to capture a soundscape in all its dimensions, high-resolution immersive, automated continuous, and ultrasonic sound recordings are carried out. This facilitated recording avian, insect, and mammalian vocalizations alongside subterranean and aquatic organisms, including sounds emitted by arboreal structures.

Through soundscape analysis and ecological data evaluation, meaningful ecoacoustic intermedia artworks, such as immersive sound installations and compositions are developed to represent soundscape quality, habitat ambience, species abundance, human impacts, and the spatio- and spectral-temporal dynamics of natural soundscapes.

Combining socio-ecological research with artistic approaches shall enhance the communication of complex ecological results to the public, and in doing so, raise awareness of the uniqueness, complexity, and fragility of the acoustic environments of these protected ecosystems.

First supervisor: Ao Prof. Mag. Andreas Weixler, ABPU
Second supervisor: Associate Prof. Dr. Jana Petermann, University of Salzburg


Sam Erpelding (*1992, Luxembourg) is a sound engineer, composer, sound artist, field recordist and soundscaper and builds his own acoustic elements and experimental musical instruments. As an electric guitarist he performs in various formations, including the trio "ARGON", with whom he has toured Central Europe. Under the pseudonym "Dankwart" Sam publishes his compositions mostly by himself, but also on various labels. He works as a freelance sound engineer and produces sound recordings and concerts in the fields of classical music, jazz, rock and electroacoustics.

Erpelding completed his studies in sound engineering at SAE Vienna with distinction and produced a sound documentary about the nature reserve "Prënzebierg" in Luxembourg. Furthermore, he studied music theory and basic harmonic research with Kurt Haider in Vienna. In 2018 he completed the course in Computer Music and Electronic Media at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. In 2019, he completed the master's programme in Digital Media Technologies at the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten and conducted an Ambisonic Soundscape investigation in the Donau-Auen National Park as part of his master's thesis.

In 2018, he was artist in residence at the Kunsthalle Groß-Siegharts in Lower Austria and published his sound installation "Prënzebierg". In 2020, he won the ORF Art Radio Art Competition together with the language artist Elif San. He is co-founder of the Luxembourgish art collective "D'Kréiennascht" and since 2021 member of the radio art network of the Greater Region "Radiôme". He is currently doing his doctorate at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz, Austria.