Mark Ballora

Mark Ballora

  • Professor of Music Technology; Theatre

Mark Ballora joined the Penn State faculty in 2000. He holds a joint appointment in the School of Music and the School of Theatre. Ballora teaches courses in music technology, history of electroacoustic music, musical acoustics, and software programming for musicians. He received degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles, New York University, and McGill University. He is the author of Essentials of Music Technology (Prentice Hall, 2002), and a number of “Square One” columns written for Electronic Musician magazine from 2004 to 2008. Early work includes sound designs and electroacoustic scores for modern dance, theatre, animated films, and radio dramas. His compositions have been played at international electroacoustic music festivals, and his piece for flute choir, Squid Sarabande, was a finalist in the 2012 National Flute Association’s newly published music competition. He has also written articles describing uses of sonification (rendering scientific datasets with sound) in the areas of cardiology and computer network security. His sonifications of astronomical and physiological datasets have been used by percussionist/ethnomusicologist Mickey Hart as part of performances of the Mickey Hart Band, and on their albums Mysterium Tremendum and Superorganism, as well as the film Rhythms of the Universe,which Hart conceived with cosmologist George Smoot.

Mark Ballora has completed an introductory textbook in digital audio and music technology. Titled Digital Audio and Acoustics for the Creative Arts, it should be available in October 2016 from Oxford University Press.

This semester, he is finishing up sonifications for an animation showing a year’s worth of storm activity over 3 minutes of viewing time, shown on a global map. This will be added to a kiosk that’s in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum that displays sonifications of storms created for Jenni Evans of Meteorology. They are pursuing funding to continue this work.

He was selected to participate in the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative annual workshop/thinktank in November (NAKFI 2016). The Futures Initiative is designed to enable scientists from different disciplines to focus on new questions, upon which they can base entirely new research, and to encourage and reward outstanding communication between scientists as well as between the scientific enterprise and the public. This year’s theme is Discovering the Deep Blue Sea.

In November, he will also attend the 12th annual NeuroMusic Conference in Toronto. He will be meeting with faculty from Vanderbilt’s Music, Mind & Society Group, as well as from McGill and McMaster Universities, to discuss a pilot project in designing auditory alarms in hospital settings.

In June 2017, he will be co-chairing the International Conference of Auditory Display, which will be hosted by ADRI. The focus of this annual conference is presenting research on the use of sound to display data, monitor systems, and provide enhanced user interfaces for computers and virtual reality systems. It is unique in its singular focus on auditory displays and the array of perception, technology, and application areas that this encompasses.

Find out more about his work at: