Velocity - The concept of "sound-objects" (Shaeffer's term for discrete sonic occurences) never made sense to me when I was involved primarily in creating "strata" of sound. Recently I've been collecting separate (rather than continuous) strikes, scrapes, thuds, bangs, pings, whips, gongs, drops, clatters, clinks, cries, rumbles... These occurrences form themselves into chains (sometimes with some help). The attack and decay of each event can be manipulated. The speed, power and physicality of attack and decay build velocity. While the composition moves at an overall pace, velocity works through individual sound objects. Velocity indicates force, aggression and physicality - occurring as an object which has weight and implied materiality.
Material Index - the term derives from Michael Chion's analysis of film sound, and refers to the way in which material density and substance is inscribed into recorded audio, and the way that sound might either correspond with or contradict visual information. Tati's footsteps are an example, in the way different, often very unrealistic foley effects determine a character's presence. The use of ping-pong balls for footsteps creates a hollow, springy character, often without our conscious awareness. This indexical and sensual aspect of sonic material has always interested me, and in the use of simple materials for sound production (metal, wood, glass, etc.) I have realized the degree to which we are able to decode and imagine the tactility of those materials through their resulting sonic character. The "woodness" of sound from wooden objects (for example) is intrinsic and almost impossible to obliterate.
The character of sound matter is imbedded deeply in my work despite modifications and alterations (pitch manipulation, reversing, layering, editing, etc.). In my opinion, this creates a primary complication to the idea of "reduced listening" through using acoustic sources. However obscured or hybrid, something of the initial material is retained. The ear is finely attuned to the qualities of weight, density, rough and smooth - sensations to which sound experiences are connected in daily experience. My own interests include the full range of mutation, hybridity, obscurity, confusion and recognition, while avoiding illustration or description.
Sounds are always (as has often been stated) sounds within a space - which carries its own material index. Mediation (the imprint of media on the spectral or textural character of a sound) provides another aspect of material index which can be manipulated. The particular and unique combination of matter, media and space for every recorded sound is what makes Shaeffer's goal of a complete solfege of sound impossible (though it shouldn't preclude attempts at precise description).
White noise and artifacts - I previously identified this as a component of "awkwardness" and I've been lately listening to clicks, pops, distortions, traffic sounds, far-away voices, tape-hiss, etc with increasing pleasure, as an integrated component of the sounds. I don't want the process to be invisible.
Depth - As I construct flocks of sounds, I work with them at a specific distance in representational space, imprinted by the material index of real acoustic spaces. I work with the ear's movement between different depths, and the dynamic of sounds which move or interact among and between different depths. Thinking of these flocks as points of activity at various distances, producing a complicated mobile - never static.
Tangentiality - A compositional strategy of decentered elaboration. Mutating and disturbing individual sonic elements, allowing a piece to follow multiple possibilities with a limited range of sources, shifting them in space, density, depth, interaction, etc. Shifting views of sonic clusters to reveal a variety of perspectives.
May 22, 2007
Flock & Tumble - a definition of terms.
The composition of Flock & Tumble combined the intensely detailed and the haphazard. This methodology meant being open to chance while paying attention to the "purpose" or necessity of every sound at every moment. Recording and manipulation of sounds involved strategies for random behavior, including: