Part of the Week of Speakers 2010
Tuesday 25 May 2010 -> 19.30
Featuring works of various format by students and staff of the University of Huddersfield, with guests from Manchester and London.
Programme notes appear in composer surname order.
Warp (8-channel plus omni-speaker and live piano - 8’)
By dissolving and resurfacing at any given location, both spatially and temporally, Emil LaSalle / Warp constantly shifts through portals, moving around previous material or material yet to come. This alternate, tampered version of events is juxtaposed with a real-time live form with which it continuously falls in and out of sync, until both sides end frozen.
Narrows (stereo - 6mins)
The chief component of this work consists in a steadily shifting spectral form, which absorbs and recasts a range of less prominent but none less significant articles, rather like some transparent adhesive substance coursing through the debris of a recent devastation, churning up once intact, now nebulous materials and forging unique configurations from their bounty in its train. At once neutral and tenacious, this fluid form plays host to a series of molecular interventions, such as the volatile iterations which interrupt its deep molten flow, or the glacial drape that hangs off, or spills from under its accumulative mass.
Narrows refers to the streams of nebular activity, whose composite fibres describe serpentine routes and trace irregular trajectories through and around the transparent primordial substance, decorating and animating its otherwise featureless façade. In isolation, this fundamental property becomes an unconsummated body of potential, comparable to the sculptor’s stone before it is distinguished. As such, it relies of the influence of its environment, and the memory of its encounters, to develop some kind of identity.
(8 channel - via REAPER, Soundflower and Max/MSP)
The piece is an attempt at unifying my multiple musical personalities (classically trained pianist, improviser, composer and producer of electronic music), which although have been developing in parallel and influencing one another, have not taken on a cooperative project before. Although it is performed at WOFS 2010 as a fixed media piece it was composed with future live performance in mind (most of sound processing was done in Max/Msp).
The inspirations were drawn from classical music (opening and closing melodic ideas come from Chopin’s Etude f-minor no. 9 op. 10, as a homage to the composer for the 200th anniversary of his birthday), electroacoustic/acousmatic music (John Palmer, Francis Dhomont), as well as my own explorations of the piano as an improvisational tool, with its broad pallet of extended techniques and experiments with granulation as both improvisational and compositional tool.
in_stasis (fixed media - 10mins)
in_stasis explores motion and stasis through Noise and Ambience.
Synth Radio (8-channel fixed media and live radio, 5’42)
“Synth and Radio were introduced to each other through my friend Max. Though they argue a bit I know that deep down they’re in love.”
In Synth Radio multiple recordings of dirty buzzing synthesizers are sequenced with live broadcast talk radio across an eight-channel speaker system. Structured in block sections with hard cut editing it could be seen as an argument between the two sets of materials, one confident in its fixity, the other resplendent in knowledge that it is the here (hear?) and now.
Dog Star Man (video - 6mins)
Brakhage once described music as “the sound equivalent of the mind’s moving”. His films are unique in their attempt to achieve ‘visual music’, or perhaps better to say ‘music by visual means’, and his deliberate occupation with silent filmmaking was in fact partly due to the desire of creating the visual equivalent of the mind’s moving. He writes:
“The more informed I became with aesthetics of sound, the less I began to feel any need for an audio accompaniment of the visual I was making. […] Ironically, the more silently-orientated my creative philosophies have become, the more inspired-by-music have my photographic aesthetics and my actual editing orders become, both engendering a coming-into-being of the physiological relationship between seeing and hearing in the making of a work of art in film.” (Brakhage, film and music, 1966)
He then goes on to say, “I seek to hear color just as Messiaen seeks to see sound”. It therefore seems a contradiction in terms that one should want to compose a sonic counterpart to one of Brakhage’s silent masterpieces. The work already contains a pure form of musical construction, both in terms of rhythmic interplay and its formal approach to motion and growth processes. But here I should point out that the current audio-visual experiment presents my interpretation of Brakhage’s film and is by no means an attempt to improve or complete the original work.
My own research has led me to the conclusion that musical experience is not purely auditory even-though musical thought is transmitted through sound alone. This is particularly apparent in more abstract acousmatic works where the sounds are mentally represented and imagined as visuospatial entities. Interestingly the more abstract sonic identities become - both through the absence of visual information and recognisable sound sources - the more visual the experience of music becomes. In the same way that Brakhage internalises sound in his silent films we could say that acousmatic composers can internalise vision in their music. Here I have attempted to establish a relationship between Brakhage’s internalised sound and my own internalised vision. In doing so I have essentially reinterpreted and modified the experience of the original work, I dare say for the worse. However, I hope that the residual vestiges remaining from this destructive act make the process worthwhile and rewarding for the audience.
Needless to say that the original work of Brakhage is a silent film and must be viewed in silence in order to remain true to the filmmaker’s intentions and vision.
I would like to thank Marilyn Brakhage for her permission and encouragement towards the realisation of this project.
Stumm (2008) (video, 5.1 Surround Sound - 7mins)
This piece remixes Le locataire diabolique (1909) from director Georges Méliès, one of the ﬁrst directors in the silent ﬁlm era to use stop motion techniques. In this piece, a “diabolical renter” moves into his new accommodation. He unpacks his bag, and somehow all of his possessions are crammed inside: tables, chairs, a piano, even his family. For use in my composition, I changed the speed, direction and coloring, and set it to music/sound, mostly foley. As the piece progresses, the viewer is gradually pulled into the visual space by way of sound design. The presence of the virtual space is dynamic and unfurls during the piece, beginning as a mono signal, symbolizing one-dimensionality, and suddenly expands (a tablecloth gesture triggers it) into a contrasting auditory spaciousness.
it’s all in your head
short ‘pieces’ conceived as/based on hearing/listening tests (an on-going project). In part, a response to discussions on the live-ness of acousmatic music. Please move your head to explore the changes in perceived sound.
you might say hi and i might say hey
simple, quiet, music.
Of Noise Alone (stereo - 4mins)
Of Noise Alone consists of the sound of applause and the sound of hand clapping to investigate the use of ubiquitous sound sources in acousmatic music. Applause today has perhaps become the autonomous automatic response to all sound presented to the listener in the concert hall. My piece tries to focus the listener on the deviations of noise/applause/clapping by allowing them to respond accordingly after the end of the piece. In this case the sound of applause is presented to an audience in the concert hall, where, traditionally the audience show their appreciation by clapping their hands.
Emak-Bakia (video, dir. Man Ray - 1926) (6’10)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (dir. Walter Ruttmann - 1927) (4’10)
the imagined sound (fixed media - 10’)
“When I work in institutional studios, my back aches afterwards, I’m not breathing properly, I just simply feel very tired and exhausted. I actually experience it as a huge contradiction to what I’m trying to do in the pieces.” - Hildegard Westerkamp
“Most of the time, what you hear in these [soundscape] recordings is someone who sat long enough between periods of airplanes and cars passing that they could get something that appears to be a pristine recording. To put that forth as the reality is a lie.” – David Dunn