6 channel soundscape composition
6 channel soundscape composition
Audiorama del Bosque de Chapultepac.
November 4th 2012
The opportunity to present a sound performance in this unique location intersects with a growing area of interest for the artist – namely that of archaeoacoustics – the positioning and understanding of sound in ancient societies. This area of research is emerging and much work remains speculative, however there is a growing discourse around the the sonic properties of ritual spaces and the importance of site-bound performativities. Specific issues relevant to sonic meditation may be outlined as follows.
There is the recognition that sound often takes a central role in human ritual – this appears to approach a universality, yet also displays great variation across spatio-temporal cultures. Researchers in the field propose that ritual sound provides the historical antecedent of music, with such speculations also argued by such theorists as French economist Jacques Attali – to whom we will shortly return. The diversity of ritual sound practice, its role in the performance of community and its close connection to place can only be hinted at here. We may wish to consider for example the depictions of auditory phenomena in the “sound scrolls” in the Codex Borbonicus, where Xochipilli, the Aztec god of music, is marked with a jewelled flower indicating the poetic importance of song and sound to this pre-Hispanic culture. Mayan “speech scrolls”, common in the classical period, as well as examples found in Zapotec culture further underline the significance of sound in pre-Cortesian Iberoamerican societies. Such a sonic sensitivity is not limited to these pre-Christian examples, we can also extend this analysis using Zeilinski’s notion of a “deep time of sound media” pausing our playback to consider the impressive acoustics of Christian churches and cathedrals, then fast forwarding in time to the more contemporary experiences of the “electric church” of the rock concert and the powerful sound systems of today’s bass cultures (techno, reggae, dub, jungle, hip-hop, dubstep and so on).
Such temporary acoustic communities are both centripetal and and centrifugal – on the one hand attractive and bounding to believers, and on the other hand repulsive, disturbing and excluding non-initiates, evil spirits and the damned. While many ritual musics refer towards transcendence and the evocation of entities exterior to human consciousness (gods, spirits etc.), the piece to be presented here explores a different plane – that of immanence (the “who-here” and “who-now”).
Archaeoacoustic studies, and sound studies more generally, draw attention to the continuum existing between internal experience and external phenomena, and indeed challenges a (Western) ocularcentric paradigm which operates to enforce such problematic distinctions. When we speak, for example, we sound. This sonic entity, betraying intimate secrets of ourselves (Barthes “grain of the voice”) exists both “over-here” inside our bodies, and simultaneously (in fact with a degree of delay) “over-there” inside the bodies of those able to hear us. Sounds exterior to us touch us with vibration – we have no distance from sound – it passes through us, and something of it may continue to metaphorically resonate within us, once the actual sound itself has dissipated.
Let us now return Attali. Writing in 1977 he outlines the positioning of auditory culture relative to society’s modes of production and the associated power relations. He proposes four major periods of sound-making in deep historical time – ritual, representation, repetition and composing. He argues that the primary function of sound, as introduced above, was the reinforcement of community through ritual practice. Once its power to do this is recognised by early centralising states (e.g. Mayan), it becomes co-opted by the elite classes, and it is used to represent the interests of these groups to the rest of society. As society evolves, sound-making becomes detached from this explicitly representative function, and sound-makers, though still bound to dominant modes of production enter a period of repetition. This is articulated by Walter Benjamin in his 1936 text The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, where the repetitive reproducibility of the modernist art object (prints, books, LP’s, CD’s) involves a loss of aura. His historical positioning, on the cusp of such significant sonic mutations as punk rock and disco (the latter innovating the development of the dance music sound systems mentioned above), suggested the fourth period – that of composition. Though not fully explained, he proposed that sound makers would seek to reclaim their role as auratic community formers, composing novel forms of future-facing micro-societies, where the exchange between sound-maker and audience/congregation would no longer be over-determined by a financial transaction (a cost of entry/purchase), but be based upon a participatory post-humanistic encounter. It is with such thoughts in mind that I accepted the invitation to present a piece in the Meditatio Sonus series.
The piece, performed in real-time with open-source/FLOSS technologies, intends to fold together these historic, social, aesthetic technical considerations. The sounds to be used are exclusively sine tones – “pure”, characterless, non-representational and total sonic abstractions derived from the mathematics of the ancient Greeks. Such tones will be used to explore the resonances of the site. At the same time, difference tones (“beatings”) between the resonant frequencies of the Audiorama will be used to activate psychotropic frequencies in the consciousnesses of the congregation. The intention is to guide the brain state rhythms of the gathered listeners from the usual frequency of waking consciousness (the so-called “beta rhythm” 13 – 30 Hz) though the base frequency (“alpha rhythm” 18 – 13Hz) down to the hypnogogic meditative state (“theta rhythm” 4 -7 Hz). This gradual journey inwards and outwards will resolve with a return to the beta rhythm.
It is with the greatest pleasure that I embark on the composition and performance of this work. It is my hope that the openness with which I was invited to participate is echoed and returned in my conception. It is my belief that a sonic meditation, shared between friends, family and strangers is a wonderful opportunity to experience ourselves as a collective body composed of humans, non-humans and sonic entities alike.
11th September 2012: Die Alter Feurwache, Cologne
12th September 2012: Scheune Schall, Stommeln
Custom electronics,, live video (vvvv).
Curated by Georg Dietzler.
Raumklänge – visual notations – musik intermedial – No 1
Ahad`s Masters Garden | Musik für’s Deutsche Haus
Animationsfilm und live-elektronische Musik mit selbstgebauten Instrumenten
Zsolt Sörés I Budapest | HU
Christian Skjødt | Aaalborg | DK
J. Milo Taylor | London | UK
Andrea Pensado | Salem, MA | USA
Zeitsprünge: Alte Stummfilme hat Zsolt Sörés bisher als filmische Notenschrift für die Konzerte zu Ahad’s Masters Garden ausgewählt, diesmal gibt’s einen veränderten Ansatz mit einem neuen Computeranimationsfilm. Mal abstrakt, mal animierte Zeichnungen mit fliegenden Schallplatten, Wortfetzen sowie bewegten Werbegrafiken von Schellackplatten aus den 20/30ern »Musik für’s Deutsche Haus« aufgespürt im Archiv von a-musik, Köln. Mit Originaleinspielungen aus dieser Zeit, Deutsche Swing- , Jazz-, Tango- , Kirchenmusik und Chansons, kurz mit dabei: Marlene Dietrich. Das Filmkonzert, ein Hörspiel im Notentakt eines Films erzählt Zeit-/Geschichte/n mit selbstgebauten Instrumenten, Kurzwellenempfängern, Radiosignalen, Frequenzen, Klangverfremdungen.
AVAGRDE har gleden av å åpne sin trettende sesong, høsten 2012, med festivalen:
Pannekaker: Konserttur gjennom syv byrom
1. september 10:00-23:00
Kl 10:00 Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek
Kl 12:00 Konsertpaleet KP 9
Kl 14:00 Bredsgården, Bryggen
Kl 16:00 Studentsenteret
Kl 18:00 Musikkpaviljongen
Kl 20:00 Bergen Kjøtt
Kl 22:00 Kosmo klubben
Medvirkende: Jazkamer, Bergen Impro Storband, Ny Musikk Bergen og Avgarde
Festivalen foregår på syv forskjellige steder i Bergen, i løpet av en dag! Turen begynner på Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek kl 10:00. En lang dag, med mye fantastisk musikk tar publikum fra sted til sted, scene til scene, og de akkustiske rom fylles med fine klanger, spilt av Jazkamer og Bergen Impro Storband. Konsertdagen avsluttes i Kosmo klubben kl 22:00.
Det er gratis adgang til alle konsertene. Kom og bli med på tur!
Listening Strata: Tito Rivas & J Milo Taylor
The proposed work – a collaborative sound piece by Tito Rivas and Dr. J Milo Taylor – will be the fulfilment of a long-held mutual interest in working together. While meeting at a festival of contemporary dance (Oaxaca and Mexico City 2009) and spending time in conversation and experiencing interdisciplinary performances, workshops and discussions, a shared fascination in the possibilities of sounds and listenings was discovered. Both artists have, quite independently, and with their own particular working methods, continued to explore this domain since that time (2009).
Let us for example, accept an idea of sound as a creative practice. Within this practice we find a number of different groupings. An influential one of these, existing since the early publication of Vancouver-based Canadian composer/academic R. Murray Schafer’s The Tuning of the World (1977), is around an ecological and sociological sensitivity to the transformation or eradication of natural and historical sounds by an on-going homogenising modernisation.
A second approach might be described as documentary, or archival. Recent and ongoing work for both artists in archives in their respective cities (Mexico City, London/Cologne) and a shared critical use of phonographic techniques indicates some idea of sound as preservation. Recording and archiving these sounds somehow saves them from extinction.
Freezing time for a future listening.
Recording as testimony.
How you situate your work when you start recording is fundamental.
However nothing is ever neutral.
Another method – the self-named schizophonic – disregards the source of the sound and the notion of location would be entirely irrelevant to a another Schaeffer, the French engineer Pierre Schaeffer. For those following in this tradition, the work focuses upon fixed sound – the sound as presented by media technologies – tape machines, synthesisers, record decks, computers. In this domain sound is autonomous – it refers to nothing.
It simply is.
A sound in, and of, itself.
An object that is a not-quite-an-object.
Something separate from origin, site or location.
Francisco Lopez would propose these works as new realities – in, and of, themselves – new entities.
The use of recorded sound refers somewhat to its origin – it does point to the past. Yet it also exists and moves towards the future. A form of sonic time travel – the poetics of autonomous sound.
Combining these with other ideas, notably Zielinski’s “deep media time”, the artists are confronted by the area of archaeoacoustics, presenting a notion of the object as sonic : thereby durational, spectral, relational, in flux . As sounds appear and disappear, so objects seep through time – moving both from the past and to the future. Entities endue, but eventually decay.
They decay and they sediment – into strata – layers made in time, like the laying down of a lake bed or ocean floor. Igneous forces may metamorphose such entities into entirely other forms – how may sound and listening cultures be said to be affected by such forces, such a geological, metaphorical morphology?
We may, following this, accept an idea of a soundscape as inhabited by both humans and animals, organics and inorganics, the living and the dead. A notion of the poetics of sound always remain close to our practice.
We are proposing an urban sound-based project exploring exploratory ecological theory, social research alongside recycled soundworks to be presented in Mexico City (and London?). We suggest that spaces may be changed through a transplantation of mass sounds – a de-textualisation of one soundscape and the transformation of the other – if only for a short time.
The piece will be a sonic dialogue: between two continents, two cultures, two cities, two artists – sonic beings sharing space in time.
Recent ideas have been moving towards archaeologies of listening . Archaeologists work with objects. If we are interested in cultures of listening, how can we study sounds when they are not properly objects. The hearing act. How can we detect the archaeological strata of listening to discover how listening cultures are made. These are one of the area we would like to explore further and to inform to working methods
We are asking how we compose new things. Yet things new things are not that new.
What do Mexican people listen to and what about Londoners? Why does a culture follow specific sounds? This shows us how we are as societies. In what way? What are the shared structures that make these possible? How can this be articulated more fully, more poetically?
Inherent in the work will be a sounding comparison of listening cultures in London and Mexico City. We will take these sound documents, our recordings, and try to illuminate these. To create hypothesis. antithesis and synthesis.
[nggallery id=12 w=800 h=600]
4-channel spectral improvisation with Joel Cahen and Wajid Yaseen
CHIESA DI SANTA EULALIA (Istituto Cervantes), Via Argenteria Nuova 33, Palermo
These images document an emerging methodology for working with situated sound recordings (a term I prefer to field or environmental recording – perhaps phonograph is preferable). I do not consider these digital files to point backwards in time towards some imagined documentation of a contingency typified by excess. They do present some trace of dynamical spectral activity. Such activity I understand to occur both in the frequency domain and also a mythical, haunted domain of lack, loss and absence.
The spectrograms, while found useful when dealing with many recordings of various duration, are of course an abstraction of the sound itself – they do however present, by this very abstraction, a playful means of re-rendering the recorded sound into something other.
This performance, as part of the Opensound project also suggested to me to explore a means of realtime 4 channel spatialisation using FLOSS tools. This performance was my first live experiment using a mashup of TouchOSC/PD/Ableton to move though an recombinatory 4 channel matrix of the spectral abstractions
WFAE 2011: Crossing Listening Paths
R. Murray Schafer, Katharine Norman, Allen S. Weiss.
‘Crossing listening paths’ is the main theme of the Conference of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, which took place at the Department of Music of the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece from 3-7 of October 2011.
The conference was endorsed by the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology and the Hellenic Society for Acoustic Ecology, was organized and co-sponsored by the Department of Music of the Ionian University and the Electroacoustic Music Research and Applications Laboratory (EPHMEE) of the Ionian University, and was supported by the Computer Music Laboratory of the Department of Music Technology and Acoustics of the Technological and Educational Institute of Crete.